The Burlington Royals (Rookie League): 5 reasons I enjoy having them in our county

The Burlington Royals are an Advanced Rookie-level farm team of the Kansas City Royals and play out of the Appalachian League from mid-June through the end of August. Before they became affiliated with the Royals in 2007 they were affiliated with the Cleveland Indians for the previous 21 years. Nestled in the central Piedmont area of North Carolina (Alamance County), the Burlington Royals play at Burlington Athletic Stadium, which can seat up to 3,500 fans.

Any true sports fan would love having a minor league team in their county. I am no different. There are five reasons that I particularly enjoy about having the Burlington Royals in our county:

#5) Cheap form of family fun

The adult general admission is $5 while children and seniors can get in for $3. If you are willing to fork out $8 you can sit in the reserved section. In addition to saving money at the gate, you will save at the pump as well (if you live in Alamance County) compared to if you went to the next closest minor league stadium (Durham Bulls or Greensboro Grasshoppers).

In addition, every year you can find tons of free tickets at sports stores as well as many of the retail stores throughout the county. I have received many free tickets from different sources throughout my eleven years here in Alamance County.

Admittedly, there was one game where I took my family of five at the time and we ended up eating supper there as well as went through about three rounds of snacks throughout the game. My kids could not go more than 3 innings without getting a snack. We probably dished out $75 when it was all said and done (a huge hit to our wallet and not a usual experience here). My mouth dropped to the exit gate when I realized this. This made the memory even more memorable though. "Hey honey, remember the time we spent $75 at the Indians/Royals game?"

#4) Bingo the mascot

The Burlington Royals mascot, Bingo, is a great sideshow in its own right. During certain innings Bingo will usually race children (pulled out of the audience) around the bases, get the crowd pumped up and pull off various shenanigans (e.g. chest bumping players) throughout the game.

#3) Seeing Future MLB and high profile players

The Burlington Indians/Royals have fielded many players that have gone on to the Major League level. Louis Tiant, Mel Stottlemyre, Jim Thome(notes), Manny Ramirez(notes), C.C. Sabathia(notes), Bartolo Colon(notes) and Russell Branyan(notes) are some of the players to name a few that made their brief minor league cameo here.

In 2009 "Will" Myers, a third round (91st overall) draft choice of the Kansas City Royals, signed a $2 million contract as a catcher out of High Point, North Carolina. He was one of the highest profile players to come through the Burlington Royals organization. He only played in four games, batted .125 and hit one home run. I never got the chance to drive over and see him play since his time with us was limited.

#2) Funky Games

Usually at every game there is some quirky game that you can sign up or pay to play. The last time we went we bought some raffle tickets for some "Cow Bingo" game. The object was to hope that one of the cows grazing in an enclosed fence would poop on your number first. You basically purchased a space of land with your number on it and hoped the poop plopped on your plot. We never won that night. In fact, poor old Betsy needed to be given some Exlax as she never had a stool all night.

#1) The atmosphere

Burlington Athletic Stadium is situated in a quiet neighborhood (literally surrounded by houses) next to a BMX race track and Fairchild Park. There is a Wal-Mart down the road if your wife needs to do some urgent shopping. There is no substitute though for bright lights, clean cut grass and amateur players playing the game out of sheer love for the game.

The website for the Burlington Royals is listed in my sources under minorleaguebaseball.com.

SOURCES:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=myers-006wil

http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/ballpark/page.jsp?ymd=20050513&content_id=6384&vkey=ballpark_t483&fext=.jsp&sid=t483

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Updated Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011