Summer begins Thursday, and fittingly so does play in the Appalachian League. Fans here in Johnson City will see their Cardinals traveling to Kingsport to take on the Mets.
Meanwhile, the Elizabethton Twins will begin their quest to repeat as champions of the Appy League by hosting the Bristol White Sox at Joe O’Brien Field.
As Press sports writer Trey Williams reported last year, the Twins won the title in dramatic fasion last September when D.J. Hicks delivered a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 12th inning on a 3-2 fastball with two outs to beat the Burlington (N.C.) Royals.
Every summer, rookies arrive at one of the 10 franchises that make up the Appy League with dreams of making it to the big leagues. It’s an innocent introduction to professional baseball, and some Appy League alums will go on to enjoy a stellar career in the majors.
It really is, as the Appy League website boasts, a fan’s chance to “watch the stars of tomorrow today.”
Their stay here is something the rookies will remember for the rest of their lives.
Many Appy League players find themselves adopted for the summer by families in their host cities. A number of local families will share their homes with complete strangers.
And we are proud to say the Johnson City Cardinals and Elizabethton Twins have become models for other franchises in the league when it comes to building community support. Players from the Cardinals and Twins routinely make appearances in churches and civic clubs. This community interaction helps to create a favorable buzz for the teams both on and off the field.
The league is made up of franchises from relatively small towns in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. The Appy League has become an important institution in those communities. Folks who attend Appy League games regularly are diehard fans who are absolutely devoted to their respective teams.
We encourage you to see what all the fuss is about by visiting an Appy League ball park yourself this summer.