Excellent Adventure Day # 53
A Forgotten HR I’ll now Never Forget
We found our way back over to Interstate 95 and went north for 2-3 hours on a Friday morning and arrived at JP Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville, NC not far off the Interstate in the early afternoon.
Not many people would call this old yard fancy, it certainly lacked the charm and history of the venerable College Park we had seen the previous night in Charleston.
But during the season of 1991 more stadiums looked like this than they did either the grand old ballparks or the gleaming new stadiums of today. They were places that minor league baseball was played and on a warm spring Friday night that seemed more than adequate.
The city of Fayetteville has taken a small step up in level since 1991 moving up from the South Atlantic League to the High-A circuit – the Carolina League. It is has also taken a big step up in facilities very recently, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers moved into what looks like a lovely new ballpark in downtown Fayetteville last season.
It was a great game on that Friday, 29 years ago tonight, though I didn’t find out how special a game it was until just today. The Generals lost a 3-2 lead in the 8th inning and the game went to the 13th before left fielder Mike Weinberg hit a one-out walk-off home run to win it for Fayetteville 4-3. According to Baseball Reference, it was one of just two home runs Weinberg hit in his career and he stopped playing professional baseball after that season. But ten years later, Mike Weinberg became a true hero, tragically he was one of the firemen lost in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Stadium # 56 on the Excellent Adventure was a collection of buildings more than a stadium, per se. But a lively crowd from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base made JP Riddle Stadium come alive and although the little leaguers that filled the left field bleachers may have headed home to bed before the game was over it was still a good crowd at the end.
…”Give me Just a Little More Time“
There aren’t many things to regret about our magical 1991 season but I do wish we had a chance to see more of each town we visited. Quite often the only glimpse of the surrounding area was from our seats. I hope to go back some day and once tourist sites are safely reopened here are a few sites I’d check out if I had a whole day or better yet a week!
Until We Meet Again
Who knows how long it will be until we can collectively be taken out to the ballgame again but in the meantime here is an important page where you can do some good, find some important content and help us all get to the other side of this difficult season.
Tomorrow morning look for a new episode of the Low Mileage Tour on 435 Voices podcast. I’ll be visiting with Sammy Batten, a longtime sports writer for the Fayetteville Observer who talks about going to games at Riddle Stadium and also about what’s going on in Fayetteville baseball today.
Later Monday the Low Mileage Tour takes in two parks that we saw on a Saturday 29 years earlier: Gastonia, NC home of the Gastonia Rangers, and Fort Mill, SC where the Charlotte Knights played.