Lauryn Higgins is a native of the Tarheel State and currently a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is studying...
Asheville is a definite tourist destination and with countless attractions and venues to check out, one might overlook some of the original tourists of Asheville, our baseball team. Celebrating their 100th season, the Asheville Tourists are more excited than ever to bring America's favorite past time to the forefront. We asked Doug Maurer, Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations at the Asheville Tourists, what we can expect from this season and to share a few of his favorite memories.
Lauryn Higgins: The Asheville Tourists have a long standing tradition in the community, but so many people are curious as to why the mascot is a tourist. Can you tell our readers how the mascot came to be?
Doug Maurer: The nickname Tourists first became associated with the Asheville professional baseball franchise in 1915, exactly 100 years ago. Local newspapers began calling baseball teams by catchy names to help increase their readership. In 1915 the local paper first referred to Asheville as the Tourists since all of the players hailed from elsewhere. The name stuck and other than a brief stint in the early 70's when Asheville was a Baltimore Orioles affiliate, they have been known as the Asheville Tourists.
Lauryn: The Tourist are celebrating their 100th season with numerous players going on to play major league ball. How many players in the history of the team have gone to the majors. And do you have a favorite memory of a player achieving this milestone?
Doug: Professional Baseball in Asheville, NC began in 1897 with the Asheville Moonshiners. From 1897 through 2015, Asheville has had a professional baseball team in 97 of those seasons. Their have been a total of 509 players to dawn a uniform for Asheville that have since gone on to play in the Major Leagues. I have been with the organization since 2010 and my favorite memory of a player reaching the top level would have to come from that year. Our third-baseman, Nolan Arenado, was an 18-year-old from Newport Beach California. Arenado had an exceptional season with the Tourists and made his way through the Minor Leagues in speedy fashion. The second round draft pick is currently the starting third-baseman for the Colorado Rockies and has won back-to-back Gold Glove awards arguably making him the best current defensive third-baseman in the Major Leagues.
Lauryn: Tourists always have great promotions. Can you tell our readers about the promotions you all are offering this year?
Doug: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Tourists name, we are giving away six throwback replica jerseys throughout the season. Each jersey giveaway night, the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a replica jersey from a significant season throughout our history. We are also featuring 12 post-game fireworks shows. Our premier event in 2015 is the South Atlantic League All-Star Game presented by Ingles. The future stars of tomorrow from all around the league will disembark to Asheville for the mid-summer classic. The event will feature a Home Run Derby, autograph signings, a full nine-inning game, and post-game fireworks.
Lauryn: McCormick field now offers hot dogs topped with mac & cheese and bacon, and chicken and fries in a waffle cone smothered in nacho cheese or maple syrup. Can you tell us more about the decision to expand the food scene and why these particular menu items were chosen?
Doug: For the fifth consecutive season, McCormick Field's Food & Beverage department is headed up by Professional Sports Catering. Ever since the Tourists made the transition to PSC, our food and beverage items have increased in quality and options. PSC prides itself in making sure the best items are available to our fans and providing the best customer service possible. As far as the new items go this year, they have been a popular addition to an outstanding array of choices for the fans.
Lauryn: Last year McCormick field hosted Florida Georgia Line. Are there any exciting shows coming up you can tell us about?
Doug: Last year's Florida Georgia Line concert was a great event. It gave us the opportunity to showcase our facility to nearly 13,000 fans on one night. This season our premier event will be the South Atlantic League All-Star Game present by Ingles which takes place on Tuesday, June 23.