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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

43 Parks in a Year: The Appalachian League
Virginia and West

Down around the bottom of West Virginia where it boarders Southwest Virginia there are three more Appalachian League teams - 2 in Virginia and one in West Virginia.

The one in West Virginia is the Princeton Rays. It was a fun little stadium and on the day I went if you were shaved bald you got a t-shirt and a free hat (so I was bald). They were celebrating a coach whose name I can't remember (All I know is that his nickname is Alby because the t-shirt proclaims me to be part of "Alby's Army"). I sat behind the home plate and they had concession service at your seat, which was an unexpected bonus at a rookie league game. After the game the guy running the stadium stood at the gate wishing us all a good night as we left. I really enjoyed my day at this park.

Twenty minutes down the road, just across the state border is the the Bluefield Bluejays. Everyone I talk to remembers this as an Orioles franchise, but I think it has been affiliated with the Bluejays for a while now. Still, when you go in all the  fixed seating is bright Oriole orange. Most of the seats are in a rather steep stadium seating area behind home plate. It's a pretty good setup as long as you don't sit behind one of the beams holding the roof up.  There's reserved seating up close to the net behind the plate and off to the side, but it's really cheap plastic seats and I don't think you can buy tickets for it at the gate. On the other hand, down the third base side there was a fenced off bar area which had seats up next to the fence on ground level (probably the best seats in the house).

And then there's the Pulaski  Yankees. Apparently, the Pulaski stadium used to be a municipal stadium, but it was bought out by private businessmen and converted to a private stadium. They fixed up the seating behind the plate so that it is pretty sweet and there are nice private boxes closer to field on the 1st base side. The 3rd base side had concrete tiers which people filled with their own lawn chairs etc. The stadium was a work in progress with mixtures of really good with really bad. The parking situation was horrendous. I got there over an hour early and actually got some of the very limited parking but when I left I drove past tons of cars parked along the highway roads around the park. They had no ticket booths and tickets were being sold from folding tables. On top of that, the girls selling the tickets didn't understand what "will call" was. I had to explain it a couple times to get my ticket. Most annoying of all, this was the only park I went to all year where the souvenir stand didn't sell souvenir baseballs. In fact, they didn't sell anything worth taking home to display: no pennants, no foam fingers, nothing.

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