The Durham Bulls played a three-game set this past weekend against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders, something the organization has done time and time again. But this series was much different.
It was heavily rumored in the days leading up to the series that two New York Yankees all-stars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, would appear in Durham as a part of an injury rehab stint with Scranton. That turned into just Stanton and then, ultimately, Judge as well. A ticket buying frenzy ensued and, in a matter of hours, there wasn’t a ticket to be had. Nada. Zilch. In fact, three of the highest attended games took place in Durham this past weekend.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park is no stranger to sell-out crowds, but there was certainly a different feeling in the air for these three games. Gates opened an hour earlier than usual and fans lined up a good while before that to get a close-up glimpse of Judge and Stanton taking batting practice. Heck, even Durham Bulls staff (including yours truly) was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning at the prospect of seeing these guys in person. I was even able to catch one of Judge and Stanton’s last at bats in the game on Sunday and snagged a few really good pics!
To see every last seat – even the lawn – filled to the brim was something truly special. I’ve seen it before with games on the Fourth of July but what made these games vastly different was the action in the stadium coming to a standstill when Judge and Stanton were at bat. Every human in attendance trained his or her eyes to the two all-stars. Every pitch met with bated breath in hopes of seeing a dinger out of the ballpark. Stanton did, indeed, blast one off the top of the Diamond View II building over the Blue Monster in game one, a 16-3 blowout by the Bulls.
To witness the excitement that encompassed the past weekend was truly something special. There’s no doubt that this was one of the more incredible experiences I’ve had in the four seasons I’ve worked with the Durham Bulls. It’s something I won’t ever forget.