Excellent Adventure Day # 54
Two Parks, Two States, Two Worlds
Stops # 57 and #58 on Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure were a study in contrasts and in irony.
We arrived first at Knight’s Castle, the big and at the time almost brand-new home of the Charlotte Knights. The park was built with an eye toward attracting a Triple-A franchise to the Queen City (which they did two years after we visited) and although it was several miles outside of town and across the state line in Fort Mill, SC,, the team drew big crowds much more in keeping with Triple A than most of its Double-A Southern League brethren.
Since the other game we were planning to attend that night – about 25 miles west of Charlotte in Gastonia, NC started earlier than the Knights game, we introduced ourselves to the Knight’s front office and shot some video of the empty ballpark then headed over to Gastonia.
Sims Legion Park could not have been more different than Knights Castle. It was a small typical minor league stadium, originally opened in 1950 and probably not changed much in those 41 years before we visited. The Gastonia Rangers, which moved to Hickory, NC after the 1992 season, drew a decent crowd but it was pretty difficult for a South Atlantic League team to compete with everything else going on in Charlotte. Still, we enjoyed the visit and watched the first five innings of a good game the Rangers ultimately won over the Sumter Flyers 3-2.
It took us about 30 minutes to get back over the Fort Mill where the Knights were trailing the Chattanooga Lookouts but it was a huge Saturday night crowd for minor league baseball (over 7,000) and the atmosphere was wild, Sue and I even sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame from a soundproof booth in the Knight’s Press box. Alas the Knights fell to Chattanooga 5-3.
But here’s the ironic part. Knights Castle was demolished in 2015 a couple of years after the Knights had moved to a brand new ballpark (BB&T Park) in the Uptown neighborhood of Charlotte. Meanwhile Sims Legion Park is still around and now home to a team in the Coastal Plain college summer league.
Two ballparks for the price of one tonight. In this video you will see the footage we shot in the afternoon at Knight’s Castle in Fort Mill, SC first, then we see the first five innings of a game at Sims Legion Park in Gastonia, NC. Finally, we take you along on the drive back to Charlotte where the Knights had a huge crowd and we did a bit of singing.
Tomorrow is another two ballpark day on the Low Mileage Tour, just as June 2, 1991 was on the Excellent Adventure. It’s off to Spartanburg and Greenville, SC tomorrow.