||Bulls Promotion Makes Headlines
The Durham Bulls put a new meaning on an old saying: Hit Bull, Win Steak. Or in this case, steak is spelled s-t-a-k-e, as in a financial stake of $10,000.
Hit Bull – Win $10,000 Promotion Kicks-off Durham Bulls Single Game Ticket Sales
Bill & Schatzie Step Up To The Plate for $10,000
The News and Observer staff reporter J. Andrew Curliss had this to say about the event:
Swinging into spring: Hit bull, win stake
|Tim Fairchild, an IBM employee, takes a cut without effect as the bull taunts him from the safety of left field at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. A number of would-be sluggers turned up at the ballpark Thursday in hopes of winning $10,000 in a contest
By J. ANDREW CURLISS
News and Observer Staff Writer
Staff Photo By John Rottet
DURHAM — The contest was supposed to be a free shot at big money. Three pitches. One swing. Hit bull, win 10 grand. The long-shot offer brought a steady parade of hope-filled batters to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Thursday as single-game tickets went on sale. The home opener is April 12.
But the real prize Thursday was the dream of it all, the chance to stare down the famous smoke-snorting, tail-wagging bull, to dig in at home plate on a springlike day, to think of that one swing sending the white ball over the blue wall. The chance for $10,000. The odds were with the bull. He stands, defiant, some 42 feet above the left field fence in a patch of fake grass.
The fence is a football field away from home plate, every bit of 305 feet. Hitting the bull is like clearing the Green Monster at Boston’s legendary Fenway Park. There are words painted up there, taunting leftovers from when Hollywood and Kevin Costner came to town: Hit Bull Win Steak, it says. Hit Grass Win Salad. Sure. Here’s a figure: Last season, there were more than 20,000 pitches thrown to professional ballplayers during games at the DBAP. The bull got smacked just five times. Add to that the misery of wind in the hitters’ faces.
A stiff breeze streamed into the stadium Thursday, pouring in from practically right over the bull’s big shoulders. None of that kept ’em away. The pot-bellied, over-40 softball player, the onetime high school star, the pitcher who blew out his arm a decade ago, the office workers in slacks and ties. They all tried, more than 75 dreamers.
There are more chances today and Saturday. “I hope y’all got the check ready,” said Jackie Wilkins, a 58-year-old furniture store worker who kneeled to pick up a wooden bat. “I heard about this,” said Jeff Roberts, who is 46 and lives in Chapel Hill, “and I thought, ‘What the hell.’ I might throw my back out. But you never know.”
John Fogerty blared on the loudspeakers. Put me in, coach, he sang, I’m ready to play … today. The pitches came across at a steady 60 mph, spit out of a machine. And the results were ugly. Whiff. Whiff. Whiff. Whiff. Foul tip. Whiff. Whiff. Whiff. Pop-up. Bradley Newsom, 36, sent a ground ball up the middle. “If it didn’t stay on the ground, I’d have hit the darned bull,” he said, shaking his head.
Kevin Young, 38, had gone to the batting cages and practiced ahead of time. He took a big cut — and missed. “Almost got a piece,” he said. Larry Dean’s wife told him he was foolhardy to take a hack at it. She was right. Dean, who is 40, took a big looping swing and hit only air. A small crowd gathered when Shane Ballance, who is 20 and played hooky from work to try his luck, stepped to the plate. He swung the bat steady and hard, and drove a liner into short left field that scooted across the grass. It brought a healthy round of applause.
In the end, a few guys managed to get the ball into the outfield. One hit the bottom of the fence. Holly Whitacre, a tall man who is 64 years old, stood back and watched the scene with a smile. “I don’t think I’ll swing,” he said. “The medical bills would be more than the $10,000 I’d win.”
News and Observer staff writer J. Andrew Curliss
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