After stops in Kodak, Tenn., (read about it here) and Asheville, N.C., (read about it here) Katie and I were supposed to attend a Greenville Drive game on a Friday night. However, the game was canceled after it rained a majority of the afternoon in the Upstate area. With hotel reservations already made for the rest of the trip, we continued on to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where we would see the Pelicans that Saturday night.
After checking into our hotel (more on it later) and relaxing for a bit, Katie and I headed to the ballpark. It is easy to get to the stadium because it sits at the intersection of US-17 and 21st Avenue North, which makes it easily accessible to local residents or visitors like ourselves. The one problem we encountered was that I was unable to get a photo of the sign at the entrance of the parking lot because there is no pull off area and a car immediately followed us into the lot.
Another issue when arriving at the ballpark is that it does not present a ready-made “main entrance” image. Coming from the parking lot, we encountered the entrance by right field, but nothing screamed “main entrance” to me. So we walked around toward home plate thinking I’d find the shot I wanted, but unfortunately that was not the case.
Instead of a “grand entrance” to the ballpark the photo I got was this…
|The entrance behind home plate isn’t even labeled as the “Home Plate Gate.” Instead it is simply “Gate 3.”|
En route to Gate 3, we did see a banner celebrating former Pelicans who have played in the Majors with the team’s current parent club, the Chicago Cubs.
|A banner celebrating former Pelicans who have played for the Cubs.|
Maybe I’m being nit-picky, but the banner seems a tad disingenuous because both players spent time with the club while it was affiliated with different MLB teams. Heyward played for the Pelicans coming up in the Atlanta Braves organization while Hendricks played in Myrtle Beach as part of the Texas Rangers organization. I know the Pelicans only became a Cubs affiliate before the 2015 season, but it seems weird to promote this connection considering that these players only became Cubs via free agency (Heyward) and a trade (Hendricks). However, as the cliché goes “baseball in a business” and the Pelicans seems determined to cement their connection to the Cubs, even if the relationship is only in its second season.
So once in the gates, Katie and I explored the concourse so I could capture pre-game pictures of the starting lineups and league standings. Thankfully those were side-by-side.
|Starting lineups and Carolina League standings entering play on May 21.|
When it comes to watching the game, I don’t generally look up information about the prospects in advance. I go to games because I enjoy watching the game and exploring a new stadium, but I do check out the prospects after the fact. So it’s interesting to see how many prospects played in a particular game.
The Lynchburg Hillcats are a Cleveland Indians affiliate, which is a MLB club I don’t see much about living in the South (see prospect list here). They had first baseman Bobby Bradley (3rd), shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang (12th), second baseman Mark Mathias (16th), left fielder Mike Papi (17th), center fielder Greg Allen (22nd), and designated hitter Claudio Bautista (30th) in the lineup.
The Pelicans lineup had some Cubs prospects, too (see full list here). I had no idea that shortsop Gleyber Torres was the top-rated prospect in the Cubs organization nor did I know about the other players like second baseman Ian Happ (3rd) or starting pitcher Jake Stinnett (22nd).
So after exploring a bit and deciding that we were not hungry enough to eat, Katie and I headed to our seats behind home plate. It was Military Appreciation Night at the game, so the Pelicans honored local veterans with an on-field ceremony before the game and capped it off with a biker salute.
The team also donned special uniforms for the game, too.
|Pelicans starting pitcher Jake Stinnett delivering the first pitch to Hillcats center field Greg Hill.|
After watching a few innings of play, we started to consider our food options. If you follow Ben’s Biz, you saw his visit to the ballpark a few weeks before my stop (read it here). So Katie and I were armed with a LOT of information, which actually made it difficult to choose just one food item apiece. Thankfully we had time to wander down to the specialty concession stand in right field.
Along the way we passed the wall displaying all of the former Pelicans who made it to the Majors.
|All the former Myrtle Beach Pelicans players who have played in the Majors.|
Right as you enter the patio that houses the Clark & Addison Grille there is a post showing directions to a bevy of things. Some local, and some distant.
|Directions to a few important places around the ballpark, but also the other two Minor League Baseball teams
owned by Chuck Greenberg along with a few notable baseball places.
|Clark & Addison Grille with the Wrigley Field marquee has numerous Chicago-specific food items along with a diverse craft beer selection at the American Tap House, where you have a growler filled to take home after the game.|
It was difficult for me to pick just one item, but had to admit to myself that trying the Double Play Dog would be too much for me on this night. It was the Pelicans’ featured item in the 2016 MiLB Food Fight (see full list here), but I opted for a slimmer version of the Double Play Dog minus the dog, and ordered the Buckner’s Italian Beef. While I opted for the Italian beef, Katie heeded the Twitter advice of Ben Hill and order the chicken bog balls.
While waiting for our food, I took some photos of the game.
|Scoreboard in right field with the rising moon appearing behind the trees.|
|The home team bullpen beyond the right field wall with the retired number 43 of former pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton.|
|Lynchburg Hillcats starting pitcher Sean Brady on the mound.|
After a short wait, my food arrived.
|Buckner’s Italian Beef with homemade chips.|
I’ve only had one other Italian beef in my life, which was about a year ago in Chicago. This sandwich was wet and had the usual accompaniment of giardiniera on top. I paired with with a Palmetto Brewing Company’s Lowcountry Pilsner. While I enjoyed the pilsner (another great, light, refreshing beer style for the summer), I was disappointed to see that the Pelicans no longer serve Pelicans Summer Tide (read about it here), which was a beer specially made for the team by New South Brewing Company which is a local brewery.
As I said earlier, Katie opted for the chicken bog balls.
Loving the bog balls at @Pelicanbaseball…thanks to @bensbiz for the recommendation #SCMiLBTour #MBpelicans pic.twitter.com/sckUtt5sEz
— Katie Mentzel (@DJKati) May 22, 2016
Being unfamiliar with this item, we inquired about what it entailed. There is a dish served in the area called a chicken bog, which usually made with rice, chicken, sausage, and seasonings. In this case, the Pelicans culinary staff took all of these elements and hand-packed the ingredients into convenient balls and fried them. It may sound weird, but they were delicious! I would encourage anybody who has never had chicken bog to try them when visiting the Pelicans.
After filling our stomachs with beer and food, we headed back to our seats to watch some more of the game. Along the way we passed under a sign for Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, which is the four-diamond resort we stayed at that night. We booked it through Hotwire, and got a great on the place, so I felt like I needed to get a picture of the resort’s advertising at the stadium.
|Signage promoting the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes.|
After taking our seats, I noticed the series of numbers below the press box, which I presumed were retired numbers. One number’s significance is obvious with 42 being retired across affiliated baseball in the United States and Canada in honor of Jackie Robinson. The other numbers are naturally a different story.
|The Pelicans retired numbers and paws.|
Rafael Furcal (#2) played parts of two seasons (1999-2000) in Myrtle Beach before making his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves, but was the first Pelicans player to have his number retired in 2001. Former pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton (#43) coached in the Braves system for 25 years, spending nine seasons (1999-2007) at the Pelicans pitching coach before passing away in 2008. Dinger served as the team’s “home run dog” for 10 seasons (1999-2009) before passing away in 2009 (read about it here), and has his role honored with a paw. Rocket Wheeler served as the team’s manager for five seasons (2006-2010), helping the team to a franchise-record 89 wins in 2008 had his number retired on April 22, 2016, when he was in town with his current team, the Carolina Mudcats.
Also while watching the game from behind home plate I got an opportunity to get a photo of the specialty jerseys the Pelicans were wearing for Military Appreciation Night, which coincided with Armed Forces Day (read more here).
|Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey (#46) discussing a call with the umpires.|
Although the Pelicans were leading late in the game, we saw Rally Shark roaming along the third base line. So we felt compelled to get a photo taken with him.
|Katie and I with Rally Shark.|
We also got to see the visitors’ bullpen, which has seating on a beach behind it.
|Lynchburg Hillcats reliever Justin Garcia warming up in the bullpen.|
I also got my best chance to get a closeup of the Pelicans’ special jersey with the team’s closer on the mound to close out the game.
|Pelicans closer Jose Rosario on the mound in the 8th inning.|
After finally feeling like I had a decent photo showing off the specialty jersey, Katie and I headed back to our seats and watched the end of the game. Fireworks were scheduled for after the game, but after Deuce’s victory lap, the tennis ball toss, and distributing the raffled off jerseys it seemed like it was going to be quite a wait for the fireworks. So we headed out to soak up the comforts of our four-diamond resort.
Ultimately, we got to see the fireworks display as we drove back to the hotel. Perhaps most importantly, we got to enjoy an awesome pregame ceremony, some of the most unique food I have ever seen or eaten at a Minor League stadium, and some really good, local craft beer.
Final Score: Lynchburg 4, Myrtle Beach 6