Excellent Adventure Day # 55
One for Two in The Upstate
The official start of summer doesn’t come until June 20th or 21st but anyone in South Carolina would tell you that anytime in June is summer in the Palmetto State.
It was a sultry summer afternoon, June 2, 1991, as we embarked on another “double day,” seeing two parks in the same day. The first stop was venerable Duncan Park in Spartanburg, SC.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Duncan Park opened for baseball in 1926 and professional baseball had a long and storied run in Spartanburg, one of the primary cities in Upstate, South Carolina – about 75 miles southwest of Charlotte. Spartanburg had teams in the South Atlantic League for most of the years between 1926 and 1991 when we saw the Spartanburg Phillies hosting the Charleston (WV) Wheelers in a Sunday matinee. However, the park was already showing its age then and unable to comply with new professional standards for minor league stadiums the Phillies played their last season there in 1994. In the last decade the park has been spruced up and it still used by a local high school team.
It drizzled off and on through the early part of the day but the sun was out and it was hot as the Phillies beat the visiting Charleston Wheelers 3-2. Third baseman Erik Judson, who wrapped up a brief career at the end of that season, was 2-for-2 with a walk for the Phillies and we headed off for Greenville 30 miles or so down Interstate 85
The skies got progressively darker on our way south and by the time we got to Greenville Municipal Stadium it was pouring; that night’s game against Chattanooga was officially called not long after. It was disappointing not only because it became the sixth game to be rained out but also because the G Braves, with new manager Chris Chambliss, were the hottest team in Minor League baseball with a 35-14 record through the first two months of the season.
The Greenville Braves played at Greenville Municipal Stadium for another thirteen years after we were there and then the team was moved to the Jackson, MS suburb of Pearl where they are now known as the Mississippi Braves.
Meanwhile, Greenville got a South Atlantic League team the next season and the year after that they opened a brand new ballpark in downtown Greenville. The Greenville Drive are affiliated with the Boston Red Sox and Fluor Field at the West End has very similar dimensions to Fenway Park, complete with a mini Green Monster.
The Video Part One
We did not often see much of the towns we were visiting and while the schedule really wouldn’t have allowed much more sight seeing than we did, it is still disappointing almost 30 years later that we don’t have more pictures and video of the towns themselves. However, Spartanburg is an exception, we stopped for awhile downtown on a quiet Sunday afternoon before heading for the ballpark.
I can’t revisit Duncan Park without mentioning the late Warner Fusselle. Warner, the longtime voice of Major League Baseball Magazine, was one of the nicest people I ever met and he was proud of getting his start in broadcasting at Duncan Park.
The Video Part Two
This one’s pretty short. How many ways can you really say, “the game’s been called?” But this video does include one of my favorite equipment sponsorships and some pretty great sound of a thunderstorm.
Tomorrow is the last in a string of two ballpark days on the Low Mileage Tour. We’ll start with some video from Columbia, SC where we actually ended our night on June 3rd, 1991 then check out another historic Sally League Stadium, Riley Park in Sumter, SC.