Appalachian Power Park
Appalachian Power Park is the current home field for the West Virginia Power, a minor league baseball team in the South Atlantic League which are a Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also serves as one of two home fields for the baseball programs of both Marshall University and the University of Charleston. The stadium, which opened in April 2005, is located in the East End of Charleston, West Virginia, just outside the city's downtown in the east end. It seats 6,200 fans and cost 23 million dollars to build. The dimensions of the field are as follows: left field - 330 feet, center field - 400 feet, right field - 320 feet.
Additionally, the park hosts the West Virginia state high school baseball championships. It is also the home field for Marshall conference games, because the school does not have an adequate baseball facility on its campus located 50 miles (80 km) away in Huntington, West Virginia. It plays its non-conference games on campus. The stadium has also hosted concerts, boxing matches, and shown television coverage of college football games on its scoreboard. In 2009 West Virginia University's baseball team played a somewhat well-attended game with the University of Kentucky Wildcats and a single WVU game in Charleston is planned for future seasons as well.
The naming rights were purchased by Appalachian Power, the West Virginia and southwest Virginia operating unit of American Electric Power.
In the ballpark's inaugural season, a Charleston baseball record 10,400 fans showed up on "Buck Night", which is a promotional night held on Thursdays where hot dogs, fountain drinks, and beer is $1.
The ballpark features an authentic locomotive horn donated by Norfolk Southern Corporation, whose tracks run adjacent to the park, coincidentally continuing the atmosphere of predecessor Watt Powell Park. The horn was refurbished in 2005 by employees of Norfolk Southern's Juniata Locomotive Shop in Juniata, Pennsylvania at the request of Assistant Division Superintendent Joe Maynard of Williamson, West Virginia.
One unique feature of the park is an electrical outlet located in the backstop behind home plate. This was added to accommodate local politician Rod Blackstone, nicknamed the "Toast Man," who has become one of the most famous fans in minor league baseball. Blackstone brings numerous signs to urge the team on, and regularly leads the crowd in family-friendly cheers. He is most famous for bringing bread and a toaster to games, which he had done for years for the Power's predecessors. When a Power pitcher strikes out a batter, he yells "You are toast!" and then tosses slices of fresh (and not-so-fresh) toast into the seats around him.
The section behind the opposing team dugout is known as "Rowdy Alley" where Billy Bob and the Rowdys deliver family-friendly, good-natured heckles to the opposing team players and coaches as well to the umpires when they make bad calls. Billy Bob and Rowdy Alley are carryovers from Watt Powell Park and they have been razzing the opposing team since the early Charleston Alley Cats days. A night doesn't go by without hearing what can only be described as a Billy Bob Cackle when an opposing player strikes out. Choruses of "DIRT BALL!" and "BORING!" (sometimes in both English AND Spanish) pepper the opposing pitchers, and opposing coaches who dare venture onto the field are met with "LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT" all the way to the mound and back. The Rowdys are also known for their use of props to amuse the fans: duck-shaped umbrellas pop-up with loud calls of "DUCK!" when foul balls ricochet overhead, costume accessories, and noise-makers are abundant.
The stadium features a seasonal and special events restaurant called the "Power Alley Bar and Grill" that features food, indoor and outside seating, a full size bar, and pictures and memorabilia from Watt Powell Park and famous former players.
In 2007, a party deck was built near the right field foul pole that can accommodate 250 people. An upgrade to a normal game ticket can be purchased for $25, allowing access to the Party Deck, which features all-you-can-eat hot dogs, nachos and other "baseball food," as well as unlimited drinks.
Naming rights for the party deck were recently acquired by Anheuser-Busch. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, this area was known as the "Landshark Lagoon" but has since been renamed the "Budweiser Party Deck."
Also in 2007, the Charleston Baseball Wall of Fame made its debut, located behind the home plate press box. "Wheeler" Bob (longtime Wheelers/Alley Cats/Power program & souvenir merchant), Rod "Toast Man" Blackstone, and Dave Parker are just three of the few who've had the honor of being inducted onto the Wall.
In 2008, parts of The World's Strongest Man competition were held at the stadium.
In 2009, the South Atlantic League's 50th All-Star game was held at the stadium along with a home run derby, won by Calvin Anderson, and a fan fest.
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