Another year, another season. And just like 27 Dresses, I’m once again interning for a minor league baseball team. I’ve written about my past two cross-country journeys and decided to chronicle my adventures to Virginia. The 1,000+ mile journey ended up taking about 17 hours that I spread out over four days to give myself a break from all of the driving. It can be stressful and tiring when you’re by yourself.
The first leg of the trip was from my home in Texas to Memphis, Tennessee. I decided to knock out a four-hour chunk of driving before stopping to stretch my legs in Little Rock, Arkansas. My first stop was the state capitol complex and it didn’t disappoint.
After exploring for a bit, I hopped back in the car and crossed the river to Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers. As luck would have it, none of the stadiums or sports venues I visited were home so empty ballpark pictures it is.
One of the coolest buildings had to be across the street from the ballpark behind left field that had a home-plate cutout designed into the side of the building.
My last stop in Little Rock was The Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park. It is famous because it was in the opening shot of Gone With The Wind. They say it’s not well-known but it was packed with families throughout the park.
From there, it was on to Memphis. While I didn’t go to Graceland while I was in town, I did pass it. It looks like it has been turned into an Elvis theme park because he was literally everywhere on that side of town.
Then it was time to explore downtown where I got a glimpse of the Memphis Redbirds ballpark. The brickwork is absolutely gorgeous. It was hard to stop and check out the ballpark because it is right in the heart of downtown with parking almost impossible to locate.
I’m a musician so while I was in town, I went on a tour of the Gibson Guitar Factory. There were no photos allowed inside the production facility. I can’t show you the new frost blue guitars that will hit the market later this year and I can’t show you the second signature guitar that is being released with Rush’s lead guitarist Alex Lifeson that will be released in 2017 but I can tell you about them. (Side note: our tour guide had the best Tennessee accent I’ve ever heard. He said if you ask him nicely he could speak more Northern for you.)
And across the street from the Gibson Guitar Factory is the FedEx Forum where the Memphis Grizzlies play. I had no idea until I was walking around town that pretty much all of the major sports venues are literally down the street from each other.
A quick stroll down Beale Street later and it was back in the car for the next chunk of driving to Nashville. On the way I saw a sign for The Ballpark at Jackson. I thought I had mapped out all of the minor league stadiums on the trip but apparently I missed this one. I drove past it on the interstate before quickly turning around to get a glimpse of the Jackson Generals ballpark.
The ballpark is located towards the back of a huge sports complex run by the city of Jackson. They were some of the best baseball and softball facilities I’ve seen and you can tell the city puts a lot of pride in them. It was Memorial Day weekend and the parking lots were packed with parents and ballplayers running around. My first stop in Nashville was going to be the new home of the Sounds but a mistake in my GPS took me to Greer Stadium, the team’s former home. It was sadly in disrepair with concrete breaking, grass growing all over the infield, and the famous guitar scoreboard looking like it’s about to fall off the outfield wall.
The parking lots and areas surrounding Greer Stadium were all closed and locked up. I was only able to get the photo from visiting Fort Negley, the ruins of a Civil War fort that had a trail that went right past the ballpark. After seeing the old ballpark, it was time to see the new one but like Greer Stadium, it had chainlink fencing around most of the park. However, instead of everything falling apart, this was due to tons of construction surrounding the ballpark including new apartment complexes.
I was bummed I didn’t get to see them play because Trisha Yearwood threw the first pitch out the night after I was in Nashville.
I worked on a Hank Williams movie about a year and a half ago and have always wanted to see the Ryman Auditorium in person so I checked that and the Grand Ole Opry off the bucket list. I also walked around town to see the Tennessee state capitol complex and Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, which many of my guy friends would argue is the real state capital.
By this point in the trip, I had spent about 10 hours on the road and was ready to get to Virginia. So I knocked out the last chunk of the trip and got into the mountain town of Blacksburg six hours later and called it quits. It should be a fun summer spending time in the Yankees organization and having more minor league baseball fun.