A newcomer to the Triple-A baseball world upon moving up from the Single-A Carolina League in 1998, the Durham Bulls bided their time.
It was after midnight last month when Charlie Montoyo got the word from the Tampa Bay Rays that his standout closer, Kirby Yates, was getting called up to the majors for the first time.
The Fourth of July is typically one of the busiest nights of the year for the Tobacco Road Sports Café in Durham.
This will be one of those times when it's OK for Durham Bulls fans to root, root, root for the guys in the other uniforms to “HIT BULL WIN STEAK.”
Already bearing an iconic name and a solid organizational reputation in minor league baseball circles, the Durham Bulls also have prepared their best surroundings for the Triple-A All-Star game.
The Bull City offers so many attractions that the real challenge is deciding what to do first.
Here are some of the best:
International League All-Stars Roster
Pacific Coast League All-Stars Roster
VISITING TRIPLE-A DIGNITARIES THRILLED AT DURHAM'S ALL-STAR PRODUCTION
Next year at this time, Martie Cordaro’s job will be to duplicate what Durham Bulls officials did while putting on Wednesday night’s Triple-A All-Star Game.
The circumstances were unlike anything ever seen at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, but the end result was very familiar — a comfortable win for Charlie Montoyo and the home team. Montoyo managed the International League to a 7-3 win over the Pacific Coast Wednesday as the Triple-A All-Star Game came to Durham for the first time.
BASEBALL'S INTERNATIONAL GROWTH TO BE HIGHLIGHTED AT THE DBAP TONIGHT
While the Triple-A All-Star Game has always been a showcase for some of the game’s top prospects, tonight’s contest at Durham Bulls Athletic Park will also show how much the sport has grown internationally.
The first pitch, scheduled for 7:07 p.m., will feature a Brazilian who wanted to be a professional soccer player facing an Australian who was a member of the Australian rules football youth national team.
“The diversity in this game has come a long way in the past decade,” said International League starting pitcher Liam Hendriks, a native of Perth, Australia.
The first batter Hendriks will face is Pacific Coast League outfielder Paulo Orlando, a 28-year-old from Sao Paulo who will become the first Brazilian to appear in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
“When I was young I love sports, so I talk about playing professional soccer,” Orlando said. “But baseball came in my life and it changed everything.”
BULLS MAHTOOK, BETEMIT TO OPEN FOR IL IN ALL-STAR GAME WEDNESDAY AT THE DBAP
The two Durham Bulls position players on the International League All-Star team will find their names in the starting lineup tonight.
For five innings, likely, their experience playing in the Triple-A All-Star Game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park will feel a lot like their other 72 home games for the Bulls.
Durham manager Charlie Montoyo, who is managing the IL team in the game tonight (7 p.m., MLB Network), has Wilson Betemit playing designated hitter while Mikie Mahtook is starting in left field.
He and Pacific Coast League manager Bob Mariano both said they plan to use the starting players for five innings before substituting to get as many players into the game as possible.
Mahtook said starting an all-star game in his home park is a neat experience. He should know because he did the same thing two years ago as a Florida State League all-star playing in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Two Durham Bulls starting pitchers, Mike Montgomery and Merrill Kelly, join Mahtook and Betemit on the IL roster. Liam Hendriks of Buffalo, who is 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA, will start on the mound for the IL team.
Updated with official pre-game notes ...
The top home run hitter in International League history and former Durham Bulls star Dan Johnson are among the six players who will take part in the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby, which will take place Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.