I love the Smokey Mountains of Eastern Tennessee too! More beautiful country and clean air to breathe deeply!
My camera took me there for the first time ever in my travels, June 8-9th. Before then, I had always driven by and never stopped at Kodak or nearby Knoxville in my travels west on U.S 40 to Nashville, or Memphis.
Now I think I know now why my dad used to listen to an old 78 record version of “On Top of Old Smokey,” over and over again in my youth and dream about being on the top that mountain.
Smokies Park is under five years old and one of the best minor league stadiums I have seen.
I had a good time there with the Double A – Cubs again shooting photos for Vine Line, the Chicago Cubs team publication.
I visited the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville to see their football and baseball fields and also bought myself a new Volunteers cap and football jersey.
The Tennessee Smokies are led by manager Buddy Bailey, who I am afraid to admit I go back with to 1987 when he managed Lynchburg in the Carolina League, hitting coach Barbaro Garbey, and pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn.
With some young players in key positions and the pitching rotation, and 3B Matt Craig and some injured veterans out of the line -up, the team is struggling right now, but should have a better second half
after these youngsters adjust to the tougher AA – competition and the veterans get healthy.
Baseball America ranked Smokies’ outfielder Tyler Colvin the Cubs’ #3 top prospect, LHP Donnie Veal #6, RHP Jeff Samardzija #8, catcher Wellington Castillo #15, CF Sam Fuld #18, 1B Jake Fox #19, LHP James Russell #22, and RHP Mark Holliman #27.
I think Doug Deeds and Nate Spears were overlooked – 2B Nate Spears is flawless on defense, and hitting 301, 1 HR, and 18 RBI in 163 AB in the second spot of the batting order.
1B/OF Doug Deeds is hitting 288, 5 HR, and 26 RBI in 177 AB and 57 games.
I want to thank Media Relations Director Jon Zeitz and the rest of the Smokies’ staff for showing me some good old Southern Hospitality during my stay there.