Baseball fans in North Carolina talk reverently about old-time Carolina League ballparks. Ironically, there aren’t many old-time Carolina League ballparks still in use as professional-baseball venues; Kinston is about it, really. Wake Forest Baseball Park, the former Ernie Shore Field and home of the Winston-Salem Warthogs, is now home to the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons.
Year Opened: 1956; renovated 1993
Dimensions: 325L, 400C, 325R
Parking: Free in adjoining parking lots.
Address/Directions: 401 Deacon Blvd., Winston-Salem. Take Business I-40 to the Cherry Street exit; take Cherry Steet North through downtown to Deacon Blvd.; hang a right to the ballpark.
Originally amed for a Winston-Salem native who reached the majors with the Red Sox, Ernie Shore Field debuted in 1956 (original price: $250,000) and then was renovated in 1993 and again in 2001. The original renovation wasn’t a retrofitting that made the ballpark something it’s not: the original configuration of the ballpark (with the playing field sitting below street grade) was maintained, with the amenities (concessions, gift shop, team offices) maintained. (The 2001 renovation involved the installation of a new press box.)
When the Dash moved to a downtown ballpark, Ernie Shore Field became Wake Forest Baseball Park. It featured a concourse behind the seating bowl before concourses became trendy. It’s still a cozy (i.e., the seats and the rows are fairly close together) ballpark, with three levels of seating (seatbacks behind home plate, bleachers and a grassy berm down each line) and plenty of concessions.
Also maintained: red brick everywhere. The buildings in back of the concourse are covered with red brick, as is the backstop.
There’s limited parking next to the ballpark and additional parking across the street at the LJVM Coliseum.
BEFORE/AFTER THE GAME
The ballpark is near an industrial part of town, with an RJ Reynolds cigarette-manufacturing plant close by. Since we’re past the days when cigarette companies offered tours of their plants and then gave you a free pack of cigarettes at the end, you probably don’t want to be spending any time in the area before or after Demon Deacon games.