ARTICLE OF THE DAY

What Summer Lull?
by Brian North
6/15/05

Summertime is when Pirate fans dream wistfully of the upcoming football season while they lounge on the beach or sit comfortably in some air-conditioned room. But don't ever say there is nothing to watch or talk about in the sporting world. This week alone, there are some big events happening in our state that will draw some big crowds.

The 47th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament in Morehead City is certainly a spectacle to behold. Unless you own an expensive boat and know where some of the biggest fish in the sea hang out, it's tough to watch the actual fishing. But thousands of spectators crowd the Morehead City waterfront to catch a glimpse of the big beasts when they are unloaded off the boats and are weighed. This has been happening in June every year since 1957. Big money is on the line, the first winner got a small red wagon full of silver dollars. This year the winner could get almost three-quarters of a million dollars. And although the marlins are inedible, they are used for research to find out more about these migrant creatures and their role in the sea. If you want to learn more about one of the biggest and richest tournaments in the world, go to www.thebigrock.com. There are 181 boats competing in the event including one named First Down Pirates.

If fishing isn't your thing, how about the 105th U.S. Open Golf Tournament? The world's best duffers will be in the small village of Pinehurst just west of Fayetteville. The golf will be played on a beautiful course that will test every facet of a golfer's game. The United States Golf Association was so impressed with Pinehurst in 1999, that they gave them a date six years later, almost unheard of in U.S. Open history. And having seen the course the last couple of days, expect Pinehurst to become a regular part of the Open rotation. If you can get tickets, go.  Pinehurst does a great job of catering to fans from parking and shuttles, to concessions, to handicap access.

In the mood for baseball? The Kinston Indians are on the verge of clinching the first-half pennant and returning to the Carolina League Playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. The Tribe won the Mills Cup last year, and they have two more all-stars on this year's team. The tickets are cheap, and the atmosphere is fun for young and old. Expect some champagne to be sprayed on the Grainger Stadium turf some time this week.

If you have some extra cash to burn, then you can check out the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. I became intrigued with this event when Coach LeClair started the Omaha chant in the ECU huddles. I thought about him when I walked into Rosenblatt Stadium three years ago. But it's the event that keeps bringing me back. Thousands of the same people migrate back to the Midwest every year whether their team is playing or not. Life long friends are made, and the baseball is pretty good, too. Omaha also has lots to offer, from good restaurants and great steaks, to good museums, casinos and a surprisingly good night life. The action starts Friday afternoon June 17th and will run through the following weekend. I hope the Pirates make it there soon, so I can go work, and expense the trip to TV-12. But I will have to go back again on my own dime and just have a good time.

I will be lucky enough to be at all these events at some point, and I hope you have a chance to see some of those things and take in some memorable moments yourself. It's better than sitting in a boring air conditioned room. So go out and have some fun until football season gets here.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com