If you were following baseball in 1999, you may remember some of the season’s highlights.The Yankees won the second of three straight World Series titles. The American League won another All-Star game. Safeco Field opened in Seattle. Joe DiMaggio died.In Kannapolis, its minor league franchise, the Piedmont Boll Weevils, was celebrating its fifth year of play.Baseball has never been short of nostalgia. So on July 13, the Kannapolis Intimidators – successors to the Boll Weevils – will celebrate “Turn Back the Clock Night” with a salute to the Piedmont Boll Weevils. The Intimidators will host the Greensboro Grasshoppers at 7:05 p.m.For the special game, the Intimidators are rolling back concessions to 1999 prices. Fans wearing Boll Weevils gear can purchase a reserved seat ticket for the 1999 price of $5.General manager Randy Long is the only team staff member who remains from the Boll Weevils era. He joined the team in 1997 as an intern and was working as the director of promotions and marketing in 1999.Long said Intimidators fans sometimes sport Boll Weevils gear at CMC-NorthEast Stadium, which was known as Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium from 1995 to 2011. Talk of a turn-back-the-clock game started to spread through social media in recent years, Long said, and he decided to act on it for the first time this year.The team’s final year as the Boll Weevils was 2000. Before the 2001 season, the team changed its ownership, its name and its Major League affiliation. The Boll Weevils were a Philadelphia Phillies farm team for six seasons before the Chicago White Sox took control of the Class A franchise in 2001.Long certainly could have chosen to salute the year 2000, the last of the Boll Weevils seasons, but he preferred to step back one more season to honor the 1990s decade, giving the event even more of a retro feel.It’s also a lot more fun, he said, to encourage fans to party like it’s 1999 than 2000.Pulling up some computer files and referencing some old pocket game schedules, Long confirmed a few details of what baseball was like in Kannapolis in 1999.The stadium’s souvenir store, for example, was known as the “Weevil Wearhouse,” and the children’s playground behind the right field bleachers was called “Weevil World.” Today, those amenities are named the Intimidation Station and the Pit Stop Playground, respectively, but they will revert back to their Weevil ways for the upcoming time-machine game.The franchise was celebrating its fifth season in Kannapolis in 1999, but the team posted a mediocre record of 69 wins and 71 losses. Piedmont’s bats were unremarkable, hitting for a .244 batting average and scoring only 524 runs, the second lowest in franchise history.It’s a good thing the Boll Weevils’ starting pitching was solid. Their top five starters all finished the season with earned run averages below 3.40, and the staff recorded a franchise record 16 complete games.Brad Baisley may have registered the season’s most memorable moment when he twirled a no-hitter against Hagerstown on Aug. 12, 1999. He finished the season with an impressive 10 wins and 2.26 ERA, but he was not one of the team’s future major leaguers, as things turned out.Boll Weevils who eventually made The Show were pitchers Carlos Silva, Franklin Nunez and Derrick Turnbow – who led the 1999 Boll Weevils with 12 wins and 149 strikeouts – shortstop Anderson Machado and outfielder Jorge Padilla.Though they did not play in Kannapolis in 1999, the franchise’s most notable Boll Weevils were arguably Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 National League MVP with the Phillies and a perennial all-star, and Ricky Williams, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL running back.For Turn Back the Clock Night, Intimidators players will wear Boll Weevils jerseys and hats that will be auctioned off to fans. Long purchased them specifically for the game, saying the franchise still owns the Boll Weevils name and logo.In honor of the 1990s era, Long said, he invited several former Boll Weevils on-field and off-field personnel to attend the retro game but was on the verge of striking out. Many of the off-field staff, he said, are still working in baseball and have conflicting schedules during the season. “We had some great players from that era,” said Long. “People are proud of that time. It will be fun to showcase it here at the ballpark.”
Friday, Jul. 05, 2013
Remember the Piedmont Boll Weevils? Kannapolis will on July 13
Prices then and now What the Kannapolis franchise charged for concessions in 1999 and charges today:
Item 1999 Now Hot dog $2 $3 Soda $2 $3 Beer (16-oz.) $2.50 $3.50 Hamburger $3 $4 Peanuts $2 $3
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less