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WSI News - Season Features

Minor Tenor!
with Judith Williams

White Sox Minor League Baseball from North Carolina

Welcome to Winston-Salem!

A Sox Fan's Travel Guide to Sox Minor League Action!

Here it is, almost baseball season and you don’t know what you’re going to do with your vacation this summer.  You’ve been thinking about doing a baseball trip but you can’t decide: “should I go see the Sox on the road or should I check out the young guys this year and do a minor league trip?”   This article is about the second option.   


Winston-Salem's Ernie Shore Field.

I live in North Carolina.  The home of the Sox advanced A team, the Winston-Salem Warthogs, is located closest to me.  Since I attend almost every game there, from April to September, this is the team and the city I am most familiar with.  I’ll begin this travel series in Winston-Salem, followed with Kannapolis and Charlotte (if you like). 

Winston-Salem is located near the center of North Carolina.  Getting here is easy.  From Chicago, fly into Greensboro and drive just 20 minutes west on I-40 to Winston-Salem.  (The airport in Raleigh is east of here, about 2 hours; Charlotte is south, about an hour and a half.)  If driving, plan on taking a full day or a day and a half (depending on your interpretation of the speed limit).  I-40 and Business 40 both pass through the city, running east and west.  U.S. 52 runs through town north and south with easy access to I-77 and U.S. 421.    

Once you arrive in Winston-Salem, be prepared with a city map.  This is an old city and streets are not laid out in an orderly manner.  It can be frustrating to get around in this city; when Cherry Street suddenly becomes University Parkway, then whoops!  It’s Cherry again.  One-way streets are plentiful and downtown parking is at a premium.  BUT, if you can navigate in downtown Chicago, Winston shouldn’t be a big problem. 

The Warthogs’ home is Ernie Shore Field.  Built over 50 years ago, Ernie Shore has great character and a wonderful history.  Named for a former major leaguer, Ernie Shore pitched in a combined no-hitter with Babe Ruth. When he retired from baseball, Ernie came back to Winston and became the county sheriff. The City of Winston-Salem has made major renovations to the field in recent years that have successfully blended the old with the new and created a comfortable, attractive facility.  The Warthogs have a nice web site, www.warthogs.com and if you have any questions about the roster, schedule, or tickets, check the site or email the staff. They are very friendly and helpful.  More about the Warthogs and Ernie Shore Field later. 

Accommodations near the ballpark are plentiful, comfortable and reasonably priced. In fact, the Ramada Plaza and Courtyard by Marriott are so close to the park, you can safely walk to a game. The Ramada Plaza is the team hotel and also where each visiting team stays when they play the Warthogs.  For information about accommodations in Winston-Salem, here are some helpful sites: 

Ramada: www.ramada.com/ 

Courtyard by Marriott http://www.Marriott.com/dpp/PropertyPage.asp?MarshaCode=INTCY 

Comfort Inn http://www2.choicehotels.com/ires/en-us/html/Search 

Residence Inn http://www.Marriott.com/dpp/PropertyPage.asp?MarshaCode=INTUP 

These four hotels are closest to Ernie Shore Field.  There are many, many more hotels and motels throughout the city only a short ride away from the ballpark.  

After getting settled in your hotel, you realize that you’d like to check out the area restaurants.  There are PLENTY everywhere you go in Winston-Salem.  The neighborhood that surrounds the ballpark also includes the LJVM Coliseum, home of Wake Forest basketball, so you KNOW there are lots of restaurants close-by.  Here are a list of some of my favorites (and the Warthogs’): 

  • La Carreta

  • Elizabeth’s Pizza

  • Hero House

  • Pig Pickin’s (excellent NC barbeque)

  • Pancho Villa’s

  • Bennigan’s

  • Putter’s

  • Cactus Jack’s 


Sox prospect
Dennis Ulacia.

Also, the usual chain restaurants are in the immediate area: Wendy’s, KFC, IHOP, Pizza Hut and others.  There is a large variety of good food throughout the city including some very excellent local barbeque. 

Speaking of variety, there are lots of things to do when you’re not at the ballpark.  Winston-Salem is home to Wake Forest University, Old Salem, Krisy Kreme Donuts, RJ Reynolds and it has one of the largest (and nicest) malls in the state, Hanes Mall.  I’ll include links at the end of this article to these attractions as well as others that are within a short driving distance.  There are some great bars very near the field, too.  FreddyB’s, Ziggy’s (live music, great diversity), and Cobalt’s are within walking distance after the game.   

To finish this, I’d like to tell you more about Ernie Shore Field.  As I said earlier, the park is just over 50 years old, which gives it a nice classic feel.  The seating area just behind home plate has a small roof which is very welcome when it’s 95 degrees and too hot to sit in the sun.  The Warthogs’ dugout is on the first base side, as is their clubhouse.  The home bullpen area is just down the right field line, it’s where the fans gather before the game to get pictures, autographs or shoot the breeze with the players.  The White Sox always send us nice guys, so even when we have a losing season (which is normal) we enjoy our team, regardless.  They’re great guys. 

The food at the park has not been the best, but that’s changing this year.  The local owners have decided to do the food service themselves and it can only get better.  We are being promised Chicago-style hotdogs as well as more concession stands.  I can give you a report on this later if you like.  One good thing about the concessions:  the beer is always COLD!! 

There are lots of good things about Ernie Shore Field and here are a few that I think are important:

  • Lots of parking --- Cost: $2.00

  • The Hogs’ Den Souvenir Shop --- nice souvenirs for not a lot of money

  • Great variety of seats --- all close to the field with lots of foul balls to catch

  • Friendly staff --- Pete Fisch is the GM and Ryan Manuel is his assistant.  Both are super nice guys and very helpful.

  • Access to the players -- If you’re coming from Chicago and want to meet the future Sox,                  this is a great place to meet the guys

  • Great booster club & fans – We stand behind our team - -100 percent -- win or lose.  We don’t mind coming out to a game when the weather is freezing, if it’s raining, or 98 degrees in the shade.  We are truly diehard fans!

If, after you read this, you decide to investigate the possibility of coming to North Carolina for some Sox minor league games, email me with your questions.  I’m sure you would enjoy the trip and would definately have some great times watching the baby Sox.   It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything!  (email me at judithjw@yahoo.com

Coming up next: Charlotte and Kannapolis! 

Sites for Winston-Salem attractions & information.
General information – restaurants, shopping and banking in the area around the ballpark.

Ramada: http://www.go2online.com/whatscloseby/index.cfm?brandID=2&customerID=1&customerListID=10359 

Wake Forest University:  http://www.wfu.edu/ 

Tour of Winston-Salem Goodies: http://www.wfu.edu/~rbhm/wstour.html 

Old Salem: http://www.oldsalem.org/oldsalivhis.html 

Hanes Mall:  http://www.shophanesmall.com/ 

General Links about Winston-Salem: http://winston.areaguides.net/ 

Winston-Salem Journal:  http://journalnow.com/ 

NC Zoo:  http://www.nczoo.org/ 

Ziggy’s:  http://www.ziggyrock.com/ 

Experience NC Food: http://www.visitnc.com/experience?no3_nc_food/


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