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Asheville Tourists Baseball

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Asheville Tourists Baseball

From the close of the 19th Century to the digital age, pro baseball has been a part of Asheville North Carolina- when the city fell on hard times the games were all but ended, when the city has flourished so too has Asheville baseball reached its greatest heights. The Asheville Tourists Baseball Club now carries the torch of America's favorite past time, but the exciting games of today are only the most recent entry of a rich history.

For a mountain town its size, Asheville plays a role in baseball's history usually reserved for the nation's biggest cities. The Tourist's own McCormick Field has hosted some of Baseball's most influential stars: Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, even Babe Ruth have graced Asheville with their prowess. Perhaps Asheville's the most notorious entry in the annals of baseball has gone down in history as “the bellyache heard 'round the world”. It all began when Babe Ruth and the rest of the Yankees traveled to Asheville to play an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Babe Ruth hospitalized
Babe Ruth hospitalized in 1925

The Great Bambino had been plagued with fever and horrible stomach cramps throughout the long, mountain spanning trip to Asheville. As Babe Ruth was one of the world's greatest celebrities, it was little wonder that throngs of fans had gathered at the train station to welcome him, little did they know what was about to transpire. In a valiant effort to greet his fans the afflicted sultan of swat stumbled from the train, took several steps, and promptly collapsed on the hard marble floor. Rumors of his death immediately began to circulate. These rumors quickly reached the international press but were ultimately countered by W.O. McGeehan's now infamous New York Tribune story where the incident was referred to as “the bellyache heard round the world”. Babe Ruth soon returned to New York where he underwent surgery for an intestinal abscess and, after a 7 week recovery, returned to the game. While he continued to bat his way into the record books, Asheville's story was only getting started.

Before the legacy of the Tourists began, Asheville was home to the Moonshiners, the Red Birds, and the Mountaineers- teams that came and went as Asheville, along with America, encountered hardships like WWI and the great depression. It wasn't until 1924 that Asheville Baseball was really put on the map with the construction of McCormick Stadium. Built for $200,000, the stadium was named for the local biologist Dr. Lewis McCormick. Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Asheville, McCormick stadium was soon recognized as one of the most beautiful in the land as echoed by Babe Ruth himself when standing off in right field he opined, “My, my, what a beautiful place to play. Delightful. Damned delightful place!”, this was of course a season prior to his bellyache! The delightful stadium continued to stand throughout most of the twentieth century, but by the 1991 season, time had decidedly taken it toll on the old wooden bleachers and directly after the year's last game they were torn down. Through ingenuity and exhaustive hours, a modern, cantilevered stadium was erected and opened around the original field just in time for the 1992 season.

McCormick Field
McCormick Stadium

And so McCormick stadium continues to host the Tourists to this day, and the action is better than ever. Over the years the Tourists have seen a lot of change switching from AA to A play, and being affiliated with a host Pro teams including the Brooklyn Dodgers the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds and more, ultimately signing on with the Expansion Colorado Rockies in 1994. Today's Tourists are doing better than ever. They boast one of the best infield games in the league that, combined with the speed and power of starting pitcher Brandon Durden, promised a thrilling and successful 2006 season. Asheville's passion for baseball proudly continues into its third century.