Baseball History


Last night I was fortunate to be able to hear a lecture on the history of baseball in Wilson, NC from local historian and resident comedian, Keith Barnes.  The lecture was set in the North Carolina Baseball Museum, which is housed at the historic 73 year old Fleming stadium in Wilson.  The history of baseball in the town was much more rich than I had known.  It started in the late 1800’s with club teams that eventually became minor league farm teams in the early 1900’s.  Anecdotes of the famous playesr that passed through included such titanic greats as Jim Thorpe and Rod Carew to recent phenoms such as Justin Verlander (currently the highest paid pitcher in the MLB).  I believe that the fondest memory of the of the attendees was when the Red Sox played the Phillies at the stadium in the early 50’s. Where Ted Williams’ batting practice before the game was the highlight of many of their childhoods.  But the lecture was not just about the players, but also of the the local heckling legends, bat boys, kids jumping the fence, an early Elvis concert (nobody knew him then) and the filming of the rain-out scene from Bull Durham with Kevin Costner in Fleming stadium.  Also, the man whom I was sitting next to, Earl Boykin, batted against the pitching great Gaylord Perry right there at Fleming Stadium (he fared poorly).  The stadium is now home to the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League.


The North Carolina Baseball Museum