One Team, One Community: The Durham Bulls

The Durham Bulls are a minor league baseball team based in Durham, North Carolina. The team is well known the triangle area, but they became internationally famous in 1988 following the release of the movie Bull Durham, which starred Kevin Costner as a veteran catcher, Tim Robbins as a talented young pitcher, and Susan Sarandon as their love interest. The Bulls were also featured in the film The Rookie. The Bulls are an important aspect in Durham Community life, and they are known for helping promote social and educational positivity.

DBAP Stadium in Durham; photo by allygirl520

History

On March 18th, 1902, W.G. Bramham had the idea to start the first Durham professional baseball franchise, which he named the Durham Tobacconists. Even though their league was not sustainable, it paved the way for the formation of the Durham Bulls in December 1912. The Bulls played their first game, and won, in April of 1913 on what is now the East Campus of Duke University. The Bulls finally made their new home in downtown Durham, at El Toro Park.

In 1968, the Bulls merged with the Raleigh club and formed the Raleigh-Durham Mets, an affiliate of the New York Mets, playing half of its home games in the Durham Athletic Park and half in Raleigh. On June 22 of that year, the local CBS broadcast the Bulls game locally, the first time that the Bulls had ever been broadcast on television. Ten years later, on August 30, 1990, a crowd of 6,202 made the Bulls the first class-A team in history to pass the 300,000 mark in attendance for an entire season.

On July 17, 1992, the Bulls unveiled their new mascot, Wool E. Bull, a moniker submitted by Durham resident Jim Vickery. The “E” in his name stands for “education.” Also, team owner Miles Wolff pushed for a new ballpark, which opened up in 1995 named the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). A signature of the stadium has a snorting Bull, and whenever a Bulls player hits a home run the bull’s eyes light up, its tail moves up and down and it snorts steam out of its nose. In 2009, the Durham Bulls won their first Triple-A National Championship.

Connection with the Major Leagues

The Bulls are currently affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the most notable baseball player to play for them is Joe Morgan, a Hall of Famer. Morgan is the only Durham Bull to have is number 18 retired by the team. Other famous Bulls who are currently or were once in the majors include, but aren’t limited to: Jorge Cantú, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Julio Franco, and Kevin Millwood.

Relationship with the Greater Community

The Durham Bulls have always felt it was an important mission to give back the community that supports them so much. One of the ways they do this is by hosting a Youth Athletic League. The League provides recreational baseball free-of-charge to kids in North East Central Durham, one of city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. With the help of the league, baseball has come to play an increasingly important part in the lives of the more than 500 boys and girls, ages 6 to 15.

The team also has a non-profit fundraising opportunity by allowing different groups to work a concession stand during a game. The Bulls provide all the equipment, product, uniforms and training groups will need, and at the end of the night, the organization will walk away with a percentage of the money made that night. Many groups participate in this, such as local school bands and little league teams.

The Durham Bulls mean a lot to the Durham Community, especially little kids who get to participate in the festivities during the game. One little leaguer, George Hill age 9, said, “I love when our team gets to run around the bases and hit the ball with Wool E. Bull during the game breaks because it makes us feel closer the team. I look forward to baseball season every year, and I love when we take family trips to the park.”

Kids Sumo Wrestling with Wool E. Bull during the 7th Inning Stretch; photo by allygirl520

The Bulls have had a huge impact on their fans and surrounding community. They are more than simply just a baseball team; they are a representation of Durham and the best parts the community has to offer.

 

Bibliography

“Bulls History: Bulls in the Majors.” Durham Bulls.com The Triangle’s Team. Durham Bulls Baseball Club, 2011. Web. 28 Feb 2011.

“Community.” Durham Bulls.com The Triangle. Durham Bulls Baseball Club, 2011. Web. 28 Feb 2011.

Cowart, Leisha. Bulls Illustrated. Durham, NC: Durham Bulls Baseball Club, 1994. Print.

DeMargel, Matt. Durham Bulls Baseball : History and Statistical Summary. Durham, NC: Durham Bulls Baseball Club, 2008. Print.

Hill, George. Personal Interview by Jasmine Hill. 1 Mar 2011. 25 Feb 2011.

About the Author

Jasmine Hill is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She wants to major in Biomedical Engineering.

 

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