In the Triangle area, big name colleges are known for their powerhouse sports teams. When you hear the name Tobacco Road, one sport comes to mind: basketball. But there is more than just basketball when it comes to the Tobacco Road rivalry between UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University, and NC State. The Triangle is just as much of a baseball hotspot as it is for basketball.
Baseball is also a favorite sport among other local colleges outside of the Triangle such as Campbell, Wake Forest and East Carolina University.
Baseball is a big deal in North Carolina and especially in its capital city Raleigh, and most would agree to this statement if they have ever visited. Along with Raleigh being a baseball focal center, the cities that neighbor Raleigh are just as instrumental in the baseball ordeal of North Carolina.
North Carolina is home to nine minor league baseball teams:the Asheville Tourists (affiliated with the Colorado Rockies), The Winston-Salem Dash (affiliated with the Chicago White Sox), The Greensboro Grasshoppers (affiliated with the Miami Marlins), The Burlington Royals (affiliated with the Kansas City Royals), The Durham Bulls (affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays), The Kannapolis Intimidators (affiliated with the Chicago White Sox), The Charlotte Knights (affiliated with the Chicago White Sox), the Carolina Mudcats (affiliated with the Colorado Rockies), and lastly the Kinston Indians (affiliated with the Cleveland Indians).
Although it can be said that North Carolina loves its baseball teams, it is one of the few states without a Major League Baseball Team. North Carolinians believe Charlotte would be the perfect home for a new MLB team. Since the city is able to support a professional football team, the challenge of supporting a professional baseball team shouldn’t be a problem.
North Carolina is also the home to the USA Baseball National Training Complex. USA baseball is a nationwide program that hosts many competitive baseball tournaments. Of all places USA baseball could’ve chosen to build their national training complex, they built it in Cary, North Carolina. There is something special about North Carolina and baseball: it’s the perfect match.
Just last year, three North Carolina colleges made it to the College World Series: North Carolina State, UNC Wilmington, and East Carolina University. Neither of these teams made it past the first round, but it was still a decent turn out for the state of North Carolina.
Going down from the collegiate and minor league level, even high school baseball in North Carolina, specifically in Raleigh is extremely competitive. Just last year, Leesville competed in the Forest Oaks Invitational at AC Flora High School. Only a select few high schools were chosen to participate in this high level competition.
Justin Clegg, senior varsity baseball player, said, “In Raleigh we have pretty good temperatures year round, so kids are out here competing every single day working hard to get better. Just on the grind constantly.”
Clegg is correct about the beautiful weather in North Carolina; it is never too hot, yet it is never extremely cold. Baseball can be played year round in North Carolina, and most of the time teams train year round for the regular season in the spring.
The game of baseball has hit a home run in the hearts of Americans everywhere. It will continue and always be America’s favorite pastime. Maybe one day North Carolina will be a home to its very own MLB team. With supporting and loyal fans, the future for baseball in North Carolina is bright.