Saturday, August 27, 2011

Greensboro vs. Roanoke- Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Entry 4 of 6)

We have not had an entry in this series since the Fourth of July when we compared two eateries, the Texas Tavern the 24/7 mini-diner in Roanoke and Fincastle's, which is a burger joint in Greensboro.

Ironically, Fincastle's is indeed named for Fincastle, Va., a small town 20 miles north of Roanoke.

Today, we are comparing the cities' two minor leage baseball teams. For those who are not familiar with the Roanoke Valley, Salem, Va., my hometown, is the main 'suburb' of Roanoke. There is actually a 'lemon tree' rivalry between the two cities which is made a bit ridicilous because Roanoke, with a population of 92,000, has a lot more folks than Salem, which has a population of 25,000 (ok, we actually need to confirm that through Wikipedia or the U.S. Census, but I do want to get out of the house today).

So the Salem Red Sox serve as the main baseball team for Roanoke. The team has been called the Salem Avalanche, the Salem Redbirds, the Salem Bucaneers and the Salem Pirates over the years. Former Pittsburgh Pirates great Dave Parker, who helped the team win the 1979 World Series over the Baltimore Orioles, is arguably the best player to play for a Salem team.

The most noteable thing about the Red Sox has to be their mascot Muggsy, a tall dog, which replaced a nut as the team's mascot (yes, we are not making this up) during the Salem Avalanche years.

The Greensboro Grasshoppers, who play in the South Atlantic League, actually play in downtown Greensboro. They were previously the Greeensboro Bats, and Derek Jeter, the current New York Yankees superstar, played for that team.

Greensboro is believed to be the largest city in America with a single-A team, as the city has approximately the same population as Salt Lake City, Utah. They play teams like the Asheville Tourists and the Hickory Crawdads from towns that are much smaller in population. The Minnesota Twins actually considered relocating to Greensboro several years ago.

The 'Hoppers also have bat dogs. They are specially trained to retrieve baseball bats (one is pictured here).

Both teams were in action last night. The Salem Red Sox, who play in the Carolina League, split a home double-header with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (that team is actually from Wilmington, Del., not Wilmington, NC) a night after losing to the Winston-Salme Dash 14-0 in the team's worst loss of the season.

The 'Hoppers scored a road win over the Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury, Md., by a
5-4 score. The two teams are slated to play again tonight at 7:05 p.m., but one should expect that Hurricane Irene will probably prevent that game from being played.

If I had to choose one of the teams, it would ultimately be the Salem Red Sox. Yes, it is a hometown bias, but the sox offer one thing that the 'Hoppers do not- free parking!

SIDEBAR ONE: Alas, last night my alma mater Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., lost to another school with GHS initials as Galax High School from Galax, Va., came to Salem and beat the Highlanders by a 17-14 score.

But, Cave Spring High School, the Beverly Hills 90210 high school in the Roanoke Valley (reportedly, some students actually drive BMWs) won their home opener as the Kinght bear the William Byrd Terriers 28-14.

SIDEBAR TWO: I want to take a moment to wish my great aunt Jo of South Carolina a happy 101st birthday. To put that in perspective, when she was born in 1910, William Howard Taft was president.

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