Fun, Food, Fandom: Minor League Baseball in North Carolina

There’s never been a better time to catch a ballgame in North Carolina than this season. With 11 ballparks across the state, you have plenty of places to experience America’s pastime. Intimate venues, catchy promotions, lovable mascots, unique food and beverages, and affordable prices mean the minors serve up major fun.

Of the six Minor League Baseball “classifications,” North Carolina currently hosts Class A, Class A Advanced and Triple-A teams, and only one other state has more ball clubs than we do.

Here’s why you should try to catch a game at as many ballparks as possible this season.

1 Asheville Tourists

1 Asheville Tourists

Class A affiliate of the Colorado RockiesSee on mapSee on map

The Tourists play in historic McCormick Field, which was built directly into the side of a mountain and features stunning views from the stands and a 42-foot wall in right-center field (the highest in professional baseball). Asheville is a 4-time “Beer City USA” winner and the Tourists accommodate locals and visitors with more than 30 different brews.

2 Buies Creek Astros

2 Buies Creek Astros

Class A Advanced affiliate of the Houston AstrosSee on mapSee on map

The Buies Creek ball club played its inaugural season in 2017. The team is playing its first two years at Campbell University’s Jim Perry Stadium before moving to a new ballpark in nearby Fayetteville in 2019. Unlike many Minor League teams who adopt their own unique names, logos, mascots and more, the new “baby” Astros Minor League team is embracing its “parent” club in a big way, including in name and white Astros uniforms at home and orange tops on the road. The team is also using a logo that's similar to the Houston Astros branding, with “BC” replacing the “H” throughout.

3 Burlington Royals

3 Burlington Royals

Rookie affiliate of the Kansas City RoyalsSee on mapSee on map

The Burlington Royals also take the mascot of their parent club. Another historic tie, to a different area, is that Burlington Athletic Stadium was originally built in Danville, Virginia, when the ballpark was purchased for $5,000 in 1959 and reconstructed at its current location for the 1960 season. Home of many classic Carolina League games, the stadium enjoyed a brief appearance in the film Bull Durham.

4 Carolina Mudcats

4 Carolina Mudcats

Class A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee BrewersSee on mapSee on map

Hailing from Zebulon’s Five County Stadium, about 25 miles east of downtown Raleigh, this team has one of the most popular names, logos and mascots (Muddy the Mudcat) in the entire league. Its Cattails Restaurant features a club-style setting and is a great place to catch all or part of a Mudcats game.

5 Charlotte Knights

5 Charlotte Knights

Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White SoxSee on mapSee on map

Situated in bustling Uptown Charlotte, BB&T Ballpark is the Knights' home, opening in 2014 and since then becoming the most-visited venue in all of Minor League Baseball. Popular theme nights include Thirsty Thursdays, featuring $3 draft beer, and Friday Night Fireworks, which light up the Uptown skyline.

6 Down East Wood Ducks

6 Down East Wood Ducks

Class A Advanced affiliate of the Texas RangersSee on mapSee on map

After playing their inaugural season in 2017, the Wood Ducks brought Minor League Baseball back to Kinston after a 5-year hiatus. Look for innovation and creativity on the field and off. During Friday home games, the team hosts Food Truck Friday, featuring the Chef & the Farmer Food Truck – of Chef Vivian Howard fame and derived from Kinston’s most popular restaurant – along with another local food truck that will differ each time. Kinston’s Mother Earth Brewing is the official beer of Food Truck Friday, offering $3 drafts.

7 Durham Bulls

7 Durham Bulls

Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay RaysSee on mapSee on map

In many ways, the Durham Bulls define all that’s good about Minor League Baseball. The team has played in Durham Bulls Athletic Park since 1995. Every night, the team plays a welcome video that features clips from the 1988 hit movie Bull Durham (it was filmed at the team’s previous ballpark). The ballpark features the “Hit Bull Win Steak” sign above the left field wall. The sign didn’t exist until it was built as a prop for the movie, but it proved so popular that team officials kept it. The Bull Durham Beer Co. is one of only a few breweries in the country located inside a professional baseball stadium.

8 Hickory Crawdads

8 Hickory Crawdads

Class A affiliate of the Texas RangersSee on mapSee on map

The Hickory Crawdads are one of the most popular brands in baseball, thanks to a great logo and two fun mascots: Conrad the Crawdad and Candy the Crawdad. The ballpark’s “CLAWlossal Challenge” gives those who dare six outs to eat a foot-long hot dog with chili and cheese, pub chips, an 8-ounce hamburger, a barbecue sandwich, a corn dog, five onion rings, two jalapeño peppers and two pickle spears. It costs $25 to take the challenge, but winners get their money back and a T-shirt.

9 Greensboro Grasshoppers

9 Greensboro Grasshoppers

Class A affiliate of the Miami MarlinsSee on mapSee on map

While several Minor League teams have dogs who take home plate umpires' spare balls and more, the Greensboro Grasshoppers have historically taken barking at the park to another level. They currently have three black Labradors that are a big part of the stadium experience: Miss Babe Ruth, Master Yogi Berra and Miss Lou Lou Gehrig retrieving bats, taking balls to the ump and participating in in-game skits. The Grasshoppers play in downtown Greensboro’s NewBridge Bank Park.

10 Kannapolis Intimidators

10 Kannapolis Intimidators

Class A affiliate of the Chicago White SoxSee on mapSee on map

Playing in Intimidators Stadium, the Intimidators name pays tribute to Kannapolis native and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. The ballpark features many motorsports-themed areas, including a NASCAR standings board next to the South Atlantic League standings board. The concessions stand sells Dale’s Mater Sandwich, a classic tomato ’wich made on toasted bread, with a little salt and pepper and complete with Duke’s Mayonnaise.

11 Winston-Salem Dash

11 Winston-Salem Dash

Class A Advanced affiliate of the Chicago White SoxSee on mapSee on map

The Dash call downtown Winston-Salem’s BB&T Ballpark home, with amenities such as the Flow Club that features an all-inclusive ticket including great seats, food, beverages (beer, wine and more) and parking. The ballpark also offers up a unique concession item, with the Cheesy Pig Dog: a hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese and barbecue. The mascot Bolt makes his rounds, entertaining fans.

 

Updated July 10, 2018
About the Author
Cele and Lynn Seldon

Cele and Lynn Seldon

Cele and Lynn Seldon are currently #midfiftiesgypsies, but they miss the sunsets and walks on the beach in Oak Island, where they basked in the North Carolina sunshine for 15 years.

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