Take the "drive" to Greenville

Michael Boylan's picture
On Sunday, July 1, I decided to get in my car and travel up I-85 to Greenville, SC. I wanted to see the ball park that some had called a “mini Fenway” and the Greenville Drive, a single A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox (my favorite team). If I went on this particular day I would also get to see Sandy Creek graduate Brent Brewer play. Brewer is the starting shortstop for the West Virginia Power, a single A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The drive to Greenville is a simple, straight forward shot. I stayed on I-85 into South Carolina, past the exits for Clemson, and then followed the signs to the ballpark, known as West End Field. The trip up there, with a brief stop at the outlets in Commerce, took just over two and a half hours. The ride back would have been less but a torrential downpour had everyone going under 40 miles per hour for about 20 minutes.

West End Field is located in the historic district of Greenville and there are dozens of restaurants, cafes and funky shops lining the streets. It’s a little like downtown Newnan with a ballpark in the middle. The park is gorgeous. Built in 2006 and voted Ballpark of the Year last year, it features a brick exterior that recalls many great major league ballparks and it has a wide open layout. When you walk up the steps towards the seats on the first base line, you see the “little monster,” a smaller version of Fenway’s Green Monster, in front of you and a brick building featuring apartments that overlook the field behind the big green wall.

This combination of Fenway Park, Camden Yards and even Wrigley Field is awesome. After gaping at the scene around the park I was drawn to several other amenities. There is a hill that people can sit on over by the “monster” and at the top of the hill is a playground, giving kids who aren’t into the game a place to play, while the parents still have a good view of the game. There is no upper deck and, unlike Fenway, every seat gives every patron an unobstructed view.

Just past the home dugout is the Coca-Cola Dugout, which is a dugout that fans can purchase tickets to sit in and watch the game from. It is likely the closest anyone could get to a live game without actually playing. The dugout provides groups of 20 seats in the area and catering. Beyond that is Greenville’s shout-out to Fenway Park’s Pesky’s Pole, though unfortunately there are no seats around it.

After that, West End Field is like any other ballpark, except insanely more affordable. The most expensive ticket is the box seat for $8 and a lawn or a deck seat is $5. Admission for children ages two and under are free. I was also blown away when I went to concession stand. The cost of a large adult beverage and a hot dog is the same as the price of a hamburger at Turner Field.

The game was great. Greenville, managed by former Red Sox player Gabe Kapler, won 7-1, pouring on a ton of runs in one inning and playing some great defense throughout the game. The win snapped a two game losing streak for the Drive and I got see this kid Matt Sheely put on quite the show. He hit his second professional home run in the game — his first one came the night before — and he had driven in 15 RBIs in just 60 at bats. I also got to see Jonathan Papelbon’s brother, Josh, hanging out before the game. Josh leads the team in saves with 11.

Also, it looked like players from both teams were more than happy to sign autographs and while some players may not make “the bigs,” lots of great players have played in Greenville, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Javy Lopez and Chipper Jones to name a few.

The Drive will be home for three days this week (July 11-13) but will have an eight game home stand starting July 21 and more games at home in August before wrapping up the season at home against Asheville, Sept. 1-3.

If you are a Red Sox fan or just a fan of baseball who is sick of a trip to the park costing you an arm and a leg, take the drive to Greenville. You won’t be disappointed.

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Hoosier Fan's picture
Submitted by Hoosier Fan on Wed, 07/11/2007 - 10:54am.


Thanks for your great story about your drive to Greenville. There is something very special about minor league ballparks, their teams, and their fans.

Before moving to this area from Southern California, we enjoyed many wonderful Summer evenings at Arrowhead Credit Union Park - home of the Inland Empire Route 66er's, and the Epicenter - home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. We could take advantage of "50 cent Fridays" where you could get a general admission seat for $.50, a hot dog for $.50 and a can of Coke for $.50. The kids were allowed to run the bases after the games and players hung around before and after the games to chat with anyone who was willing to walk down to the dugout. It's hard to imagine that in today's MLB parks.

Thanks for the reminder that sports can be more than a business with expensive tickets and big name palyers.

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