Do you recognize any of these names, Boog Powell, Cal Ripkin Jr, Don Baylor, Doug Johnson or Rocco Baldelli? They are all professional baseball players who got their start in Mercer County playing minor league baseball. The list of names goes on and on. You never know what young player will make it to the big leagues.
Since the late 1930s, professional baseball has been a staple in Bluefield, a place for players to get noticed by the big leagues and a night of entertainment for families. The Bluefield Orioles came to town in 1958 and stayed until 2011. It was one of the longest running affiliations at the time. The Toronto Blue Jays now play at Bowen Field every summer.
Only a few miles down the road, The Princeton Rays can be found warming up on the home plate at Hunnicutt Field. The Rays became an affiliate in 1996, after the Reds and the Pirates. The first game was played in 1988.
The ball park is a great place for families. I remember my introduction into minor league baseball in the mid 80s. The Princeton Pirates were playing that night. I stood in line for autographs and happily munched on popcorn. What kid wouldn’t like that? Plus, you get to hang outside in the cool of the evening.
Mercer County is the only county in West Virginia that has two teams. Only 10 miles apart, the two teams play 11 games in the summer against each other. The team that wins the most games takes home the Mercer Cup – a large trophy – and the bragging right. So who are you going to root for?
This post was last updated on July 15, 2016