The road to the big show for aspiring Major League Baseball players runs not only through Myrtle Beach, but in many towns across the Carolinas.
Minor League Baseball puts on its own show with memorable entertainment and affordable family outings full of memories to bring home.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans fans going in the next month to North Carolina’s Triad or Triangle areas for a getaway, maybe for a major concert tour or to visit friends or family, might like to work in an away game to root for the Birds. The Pelicans, playoff bound in the Carolina League for the seventh straight season, will travel to the ballparks of the Winston-Salem Dash, Creek Astros – based north of Fayetteville and one of two new teams in the Carolina League this year – and the Carolina Mudcats, based in Zebulon, just a few miles east of Raleigh.
Aiming for an unprecedented third straight Mills Cup Championship title, the Pelicans, in their third year as the Class-A Advanced affiliate for the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs, also will roll out their own welcome wagon at Field. Kristin Call, senior director of marketing, rounded out the rest of the regular season:
The Salem (Va.) Red Mudcats Aug. 11-13 and Aug. 25-27, and the Down East Wood Ducks – the other new league entry this year, from Kinston, N.C., where pro baseball bats had not cracked since 2012 – Aug. 22-24. (Buy tickets at 843-918-6000, 877-918-8499 or .) – in this Boston Red farm club’s only visit to Myrtle Beach this year, Aug. 3-6 – as well as the
The Pelicans – honored by Stadium Journey for the past six years in a row as providing one of the “Top 100 Stadium Experiences” – entertain many tourists who make a game part of their vacation, as well as fans of other Major League parent clubs’ teams that visit. Check out folks in the seats sporting cheer gear such as a Cleveland Indians cap or jersey when the Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats are the guests.
Just in North and South Carolina, 16 minor league teams play. For the closest franchise to Myrtle Beach, head down to the Holy City, home of the Charleston ✔.
Dave , the team’s president and general manager, said like Myrtle Beach, Charleston is a “destination city” and that in the past decade or so, the percentage of business from tourism at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, seated scenically along the Ashley River, has grown steadily.
“It’s part of our marketing plan and our philosophy,” Echols said. “Tourism has become part of our game-day crowd.”
Starting with the Echols said, apparel touting the Bronx Bombers – and their historic, Boston Red – became commonplace in the stands.’ affiliation shifting from the Tampa Bay Rays to the New York Yankees in 2005,
said he realizes the is “Atlanta Braves country,” however “from the standpoint of tourism and fans,” with so many fans relocating or visiting from New York and New England, “they’re bringing their passion for baseball with them.”
Minor league ball also brings other benefits on which Echols elaborated. They include seeing rising stars, where a handful of guys playing in Charleston just “3-4 years ago” have made the varsity this season, amid a youth movement that has helped propel The back toward playoff contention.
Also, attending a game in the minors, “you get a sense, a feeling that everything’s within reach,” said.
“Whether it’s the pricing, the proximity to the players on the field, or the overall atmosphere,” he said, “all that feels like it’s just an arm’s length away.”
If you go
Carolina League (Class A-Advanced – www.carolinaleague.com)
— Buies Creek Astros (Houston Astros), regular season home games through Sept. 4 – including 7 . Aug. 29-30 and 11 . Aug. 31 against Myrtle Beach – at Jim Perry Stadium (home of the Campbell University Fighting Camels), 76 Lane, , N.C. 910-814-1459 or .
— Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers), home games closing with a series against Myrtle Beach – 7 . Sept. 1, 5 . Sept. 2, 6 . Sept. 3, and noon Sept. 4 – at Five County Stadium, at U.S. 264 and N.C. 39, In Zebulon, N.C., east of Raleigh. 919-269-2287 (CATS) or .
— Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox), home games through Aug. 27 – including 7 p.m. Aug. 14-17 against Myrtle Beach – at BB&T Ballpark, 926 Brookstown Ave., Winston-Salem, N.C. 336-714-2287 (BATS) or www.wsdash.com.
— Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees), home games through Aug. 31, at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, on Lockwood Drive, north of U.S. 17, along the Ashley River. 843-577-3647 or riverdogs.com.
— Columbia Fireflies (formerly Savannah Sand Gnats, through 2015 – and still a New York Mets affiliate), home games through Aug. 31, at Spirit Communications Park, 1640 Freed St., Columbia. 803-726-4487 (HITS) or .
— Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers), home games through Sept. 4, at Crawdads Stadium, 2500 Clement Blvd N.W., Hickory, N.C., across from Hickory Regional Airport, near U.S. 321, off Interstate 40, Exit 123. 828-322-3000 or .
International League (Triple A – www.ilbaseball.com)
— Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays), home games through Aug. 27, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, on Blackwell Street, off the Durham Freeway (N.C. 147). 919-956-2855 (BULL) or www.durhambulls.com.
Appalachian League (Rookie Class A – www.appyleague.com)
Coastal Plain League (collegiate summer league – www.coastalplain.com)
— Florence RedWolves, home games through Aug. 6, at Field at Sparrow Stadium, at Francis Marion University, 4500 E. Palmetto St. (U.S. 76/U.S. 301 Business), just east of Florence Regional Airport. 843-629-0700 or .
— Fayetteville SwampDogs, home games through Aug. 7, at J.P. Riddle Stadium, 2823 Legion Road, Fayetteville, N.C. 910-426-5900 or www.goswampdogs.com.