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I spent two and half months of my summer this year in Asheville, N.C.—self-dubbed Beer City, Bee City, Climate City, and, according to Wikipedia, the “San Francisco of the East.”
Asheville has a local baseball team, too. The Asheville Tourists play A-class ball in the South Atlantic League Southern, as if you couldn’t tell North Carolina was in the South, and they’re also an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies major league ballclub. Trevor Story, 2016 MLB rookie extraordinaire, for example, came up through Asheville. On the last Friday before I flew out, the team played the second of a three-game set against the Rome Braves on its home field, nestled comfortably in the flowy Asheville hills.
Two things immediately skewed my team-image calibration: the Tourists had a 20-12 second-half record and their right fielder hit a three-run homer literally as soon as I sat my butt down in a seat. These guys are good, right? I’m about to enjoy a home-team win and post-game fireworks.
As it turns out, the Tourists got bodied, 7-4, and, of course, rain welcomed itself to the field during the post-game fireworks. It wouldn’t have been right for me to have an umbrella, either, I guess. To top it off, as of the time of writing, the team has since gone on to lose 11 of 17 games.
I’m glad I went to the game. It’s not often that one stays in a brand-new city for such a short period of time, especially one as vibrant, new, and growing as Asheville. Exploring, learning, and experiencing are obligatory for anyone visiting the city, and it doesn’t have to be visiting a local museum or walking through historic estates or anything in the conventional tourist bin. Watching foul balls go backwards over the stands and wondering if any of them hit cars in the parking lot was part of it for me.
Just to satisfy the experience-driven tourist, Asheville still has a small amount of history, as any good city does. For example, Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, died in an Asheville hospital fire after retiring to the city in old age. I was actually decently impressed that Asheville accidentally killed someone famous. Asheville’s landscape is equally impressive: The Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile multi-state mountain drive that hits parts of North Carolina and Virginia, runs through dense forests and periodically opens up to breathtakingly gorgeous Asheville scenes overlooking deep valleys and rolling hills.
I saw the hospital that Zelda died in, drove through a portion of the Parkway, and accidentally walked part of it, but that’s because I got lost; I visited a local chess club and watched talent-laden Asheville musicians perform under a bridge. Everything that Asheville had to offer was legitimately enjoyable. Just about the only thing that disappointed me was the fact that the Tourists souvenir shop didn’t have keychains—but I’ll take that small letdown.
Bryan Hu ’19, a Crimson sports editor, is an Engineering Sciences concentrator in Leverett House.
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