The iconic Durham Bulls baseball game.
I’m sure many of you will have heard of it thanks to the 1988 sports comedy, Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon.
The movie where the latter two first met and create sparks between them.
Bull Durham was also a movie that propelled all three of them into major league Hollywood status and the Durham Bulls baseball team to international attention.
It certainly didn’t hurt attendance at their games and the rise of their club up the minor league ranks.
The Durham Bulls are a Triple-A minor league baseball team that currently plays in the International League.
What’s the connection with Durham and bulls and tobacco?
The growth of Durham happened after the Civil War with an increase in demand for tobacco, due to the wonderful North Carolina tobacco that many soldiers experienced.
J.R. Green, a tobacco manufacturer realized he needed a specific name and trademark for his tobacco product. Over a lunch of oysters one day his friend pointed to the bull’s head on the Coleman’s Durham brand mustard jar, suggested he use a bull for his trademark, and Bull Durham was born.
In 1879, to differentiate from this shredded pouched smoking tobacco, J. B. Duke founded The American Tobacco Company in 1890 and specialized in cigarettes.
American Tobacco left Durham in the late 1980’s and in 2004, the abandoned Plant was re birthed as the American Tobacco Historic District, a complex of offices, restaurants, and shops.
There is plenty of open space here for the kids to run around in with a lovely outdoor stage area and a small river running through it.
Durham Tobacco Historic District for pre-game drinks and dinner
Durham is a place currently moving its way up to the majors of southern charm and sophistication.
It’s a Triangle city that has changed a lot even since the first time we visited to attend the Durham Beer Festival in the old Durham Bulls Athletic stadium in 2004, which is when we said,
“Hey isn’t this the Bull Durham place?”
Movies lead you to experience and connect to so many places you’d have otherwise glazed over.
Durham now has a name for itself as a top foodie destination in the South East.
We attended the night game with our local Durham friends, Rina, Mel and their two daughters, Nina and Sophia who our girls get along so well with and have become like sisters over the past couple of months.
Rina and Mel took us to the pub, Tyler’s Taproom for pre-dinner drinks and yummy food. Watch the video for a little insight:
Tyler’s Taproom is across the road from the Bull Durham Athletic Park in the historic Tobacco Historic District and is a favorite gathering place before a Bulls game.
They have a beer garden with lots of pre-game atmosphere, great food, and gluten free beer!! Happy days at the Durham Bulls Baseball.
The Durham Bulls baseball game experience
In keeping with Southern tradition, our night at the Durham Bulls was filled with southern hospitality and good times.
It amazes me how friendly people are in North Carolina, which I first experienced as a teacher in Johnston County Public Schools, and how public events like this are filled with good spirits.
I never see any kind of trouble or tense energy.
If it’s your first time to the Durham Bulls game, or any US baseball game, I recommend you go for tradition – a hot dog, a beer and a seventh inning stretch.
To be honest, I am not much of a baseball fan, but I do love the seventh inning stretch.
For those not in the know, the seventh inning stretch is when you stand up to sing,
“Take me out to the ball game.”
It was such a thrill the first time I experienced it as it was something I had always seen in the movies!
Very similar to when we crashed our first frat party in Chapel Hill and saw they were all drinking from those red and blue plastic cups.
“Oh my god, they really do drink out of them!!” You know what I mean right?
These are the little thrills travel can bring to us. The unexpected surprises we discover as we get to know and understand the foreign land.
While I might not understand baseball, and probably don’t want to, I do enjoy the atmosphere of a ball game especially at Durham Bulls.
It was a lot of fun and there was plenty of entertainment.
The stadium is not that old so it looks great, all the seats have pretty good views and you can walk around bar hopping or to watch the game from different angles.
There was a cool kid zone section set up for the kids to shoot basketballs, run through mazes and jump around.
The kids had a great time playing, although I had to drag them back to their seats to watch the game, as I did want them to experience this US cultural event.
It doesn’t get any more Americana than baseball and we’re exploring this country so we can get to know the REAL America.
So we sat them down with an ice cream and directed their eyes to the pitchers and the home runs.
Swing batter batter swing Cannily cannily cannily swing batter batter.
Why watch a minor league baseball game over a major league baseball game?
Many people will tell you that minor league baseball, which is the competition the Durham bulls are in, can often be more enjoyable than a major league game.
There are more perks and promotions as the minor league teams are trying to get you to the game because they don’t have big games and the players don’t have the swinging power and pitching speed of the major leagues obviously!
But, you could see an up and coming player for sure! And because of it being minor league baseball, you’ll often find nights with cheap beer, things on for the kids, or fireworks!
For Durham Bull Games they have promotions such as $2 Taco Tuesday, $1 concessions on Thursday nights and Friday night Fireworks, which is what we experienced.
I tell you, they were some of the best fireworks we have ever seen – we were so impressed. They went on forever and the kids loved them too!
Tickets to the minor league games are also cheap. You can grab tickets to the Durham Bulls game for as little as $8. That’s a great price for a fun night out watching baseball.
And if you don’t know anything about baseball, why spend extra money for the major league? Spend less and have more fun at the minors – it’s the cultural experience you want to go to the baseball for.
So if you’re visiting the Triangle, which is the region of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and are wanting an iconic American cultural experience, then plan a night out at the Durham Bulls baseball game.
It really is a memory making opportunity.
A good friend of mine used to say, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” Think about that for a while. – Ebby Calvin LaLoosh from Bull Durham
That my friends is baseball.
Very simple. But, if you attend an iconic game, like at Durham Bulls, it will jazz up the experience for you.
Just don’t forget to stretch and sing in that seventh inning.
If you want a pub meal with views of the game, look no further than Tobacco Road Sports Café.
We ate here on our first night back in Durham with Rina and Mel a few weeks before. The food is great and the outside area is in the baseball stadium so you have amazing views of the game while you eat and drink.
It’s the only restaurant where you can watch the game from outside the park and is located above the blue monster in left field of the Bulls park.
Before a game, you can sit on the outdoor patio and catch batting practice, which usually takes place about two hours prior to first pitch.
Related Post – Going to a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park
- 25 Favorite things to do in Raleigh NC – local’s guide
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Are you a baseball fan? What do you love about the baseball experience? Apart from the Durham Bulls, what is another iconic baseball game to attend?