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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Baseball is Back In Kinston

Since the end of the 2011 season, professional baseball has been missing from Eastern North Carolina.  The Kinston Indians picked up and moved to Zebulon, outside of Raleigh and assumed the team name of the Carolina Mudcats, who had relocated to Pensacola Florida.  I have missed having a minor league team close to home since Zebulon is about an hour away.

The Texas Rangers have stepped up and now own a Carolina League affiliate and have placed them in Kinston.  They are known as the Down East Wood Ducks.  While I don't care much for the "Down East" moniker, I do think the Wood Duck logo is pretty cool.  The team colors are also really nice, it seems that their jerseys will be green and orange.

The hats the guys wore today were tan with the Ducks logo, but they didn't have any of those hats for sale.  I picked up the black one shown above.  It is tough for me to don another hat other than my O's one, but I do believe in backing this team fully.  I hated when the Indians left, so I plan on letting it be known that I am happy that these guys are here.
They had a meet the team event tonight which coincided with their first ever practice.  This was open to the public, so Chris and I decided to head to Grainger Stadium and check the team out.
Chris tried his hand at "graphing" the limited amount of cards that we had.  We had cards of coaches Howard Johnson and Bobby Rose; and one Bowman Chrome card of Rangers prospect Michael O'Neill.  Above, you can see Chris chatting it up with Rangers prospect, Jairo Beras.  I ordered some cards of the Rangers prospects, but they haven't come yet.  I'm hoping they come tomorrow for the exhibition game against Mount Olive College.
They did a really good job getting historic Grainger Stadium ready for the season.  It is just like I remember it from when they were the Indians.
I'm really happy that the Rangers are the ownership group of this team.  That means that they have the capital to ensure that things are taken care of and can invest in the upkeep of the stadium, regardless of how ticket sales are going.  My hope is that ticket sales won't be a problem, but I'm sure that some days will be better than others out there.
The concession stands were open while we were there, so I went ahead and tried a hot dog tonight.  It was pretty good.  Not as good as the mac n cheese and crab dog, but I enjoyed it.
I was able to "rack" while I was at the event tonight.  I got coach Bobby Rose before the game, and talked to him a bit.  He was really friendly.  I also got Howard Johnson.  I was really prepared for Johnson,  I had a bunch of his cards to get signed, and had my auto book set up.  I did really well in getting stuff signed.  The above 1992 Upper Deck Iooss Collection card came out really well.  I had a silver Sharpie at the ready, and am glad it came out the way it did.
These two cards came out really nice, as well.  The hologram card looks so great in person.
I got these above cards taken care of as well.  The 1987 Topps was the card that I really wanted to add to the autograph album; some of the others were ones I liked, but that 87 had to get done.  Thankfully, I was able to pull it off.
Surprisingly, these are two of the only three Bobby Rose cards I could find in my entire card collection.  I went through a 4,000-count box at my LCS, and still wasn't able to find one.  He was really friendly, though, and I will have to pick up some more of his cards.
Michael O'Neill was the only prospect card that I was able to find, and I was happy to get this 2014 Bowman Chrome signed.  He is the nephew of former Yankee Paul O'Neill.  His wife and my sister-in-law are actually cousins.
Finally, I was able to get this pocket schedule signed by the entire team, sans coaches.  I didn't bring any baseballs, so this was all that I could find on such short notice.  It will looks really cool, and I will eventually have it framed.

Tomorrow, I have the exhibition game against Mount Olive College.  I hope to get a few more autos tomorrow, as I hope my COMC order comes in.
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