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Finch Field / Thomasville HiToms

Finch Field has been the home of Thomasville baseball since 1937, when the Thomasville Chairmakers posted a 63-48 record in the Class D Carolina State League, Since then, the ballpark has hosted teams in the North Carolina State League and the Carolina League, where current Florida skipper Jack McKeon won a championship in 1968. Today, Finch Field is home to the Thomasville HiToms of the college wood-bat Coastal Plain League. The ballpark’s grandstand was completely redone for the 2006 season, and it’s an amazing transformation.


FAST FACTS

Year Opened: 1937; renovated in 2006
Capacity: 2,200
Architect: Steel Stadiums
Cost: 2006 renovation: $1.4 million
Dimensions: 325L, 350LC, 390C, 365LC, 330R
Website: hitoms.com
Phone: 336/472-8667
League: Coastal Plain League
Ticket Prices (2009): Box seat, $7; general admission, $6; children (6-11), $4; children (5 and under), free
Parking: Free in adjoining parking lot
Directions: From I-85 Business (not the main I-85): take Exit 118 (National Highway/Rte. 68). At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto National Highway (if coming from the south, turn left onto National Highway and pass back under I-85 Business). Proceed approximately 100 yards, turn left into entrance marked with red “Finch Field” sign.

Finch Field has been the home of Thomasville baseball since 1937, when the Thomasville Chairmakers posted a 63-48 record in the Class D Carolina State League, Since then, the ballpark has hosted teams in the North Carolina State League and the Carolina League, where current Florida skipper Jack McKeon won a championship in 1968. Today, Finch Field is home to the Thomasville HiToms of the college wood-bat Coastal Plain League.

The ballpark’s grandstand was completely redone for the 2006 season, and it’s an amazing transformation. To be honest, the old ballpark wasn’t that great: it was small and limited, with tiny concession areas in the back. You needed to be a hardcore baseball fan to take in a full season of HiToms games, even with a short CPL schedule. But with the addition of a new grandstand and concession/restroom building, Finch Field is one of the nicest facilities in summer-collegiate baseball.

The new metal grandstand features four rows of theater-style seats and right rows of aluminum backed bleachers. Most important, the grandstand is covered, so even at a late-afternoon game the fans are covered from the hot sun or cool rain. Shade at a ballpark is a treasured commodity in the Carolinas, and the designers of the new grandstand were smart to include cover here.

The ambiance at Finch Field was considerably improved with the addition of a brick wall stretching down each line.

A new brick concession building completes the new ballpark ambiance. Flat-screen displays next to the concession window promotes upcoming Hi-Toms games. Besides features a large kitchen area, the building also sports new bathrooms. Enough space was left between the grandstand and the concession building to form a natural concourse; the HiToms added to the atmosphere with banners commemorating historic moments in Thomasville baseball history.

Still down the third-base line: a picnic pavilion and a concession building with a picnic deck. The corner concession is still also the only place in the ballpark to buy a beer.

The left-field manually operated scoreboard remains largely the same. The outfield features a unique warning track, which isn’t a track at all but rather an embankment, steep in the left-field corner and then tapering to a slight embankment in right field. This is a somewhat treacherous area: water gathers at the base of the embankment, making balls hit over the left fielder’s head an adventure.

Since the arrival of the Hi-Toms, ballpark improvements have included new lighting, improvements made to the ballpark included an upgraded irrigation system, a new public-address system, a new batting cage, a picnic shelter area, the paving of part of the driveway leading to the field, new landscaping and brick work, and the removal of old, deteriorating wooden walls.

When you think of classic Carolina League ballparks, Finch Field won’t come to mind. This is not a ballpark that will make you think of the glory days of Carolina baseball, but it works exceptionally well as a Coastal Plain League home. It also proves that a perfectly fine small ballpark doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.

Concessions
Concession stands are located underneath the grandstand and down the third-base line. A Finch Field Dog (topped with chili) costs $2.25, while a hot dog will run you $2 and a 12-ounce can of beer costs $2.50. For the most part the concession prices have been largely the same in recent years.

The concession stand down the left-field line offers hamburgers, cheeseburgers, sausage dogs, fries, chicken sandwiches, nachos, candy, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream, snow cones, and pop.

For the Kids
There are few activities specifically geared for kids, though some are planned. The right-field berm area is a gathering spot for kids throwing baseballs and keeping an eye on the game.

Before/After the Game
Thomasville is a smaller city — 20,000 or so — but it has a reputation that far exceeds the modest size: anyone who has shopped for furniture has run across the Thomasville brand. Because of the tradition of furniture building in the area (besides the Class D Furniture Makers, the city also hosted the Class D Chairmakers), downtown Thomasville features a 18-foot-tall replica of a Duncan Phyfe armchair, while nearby High Point sports a 40-foot-high Big Bureau. Curiously, this is not the only giant Duncan Phyfe armchair in existence; Washington, D.C., hosts one as well.

Finch Field is named for the founders of Thomasville Furniture Industries, brothers T.J. Finch and C.F. Finch.

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