Another Trip to the Atlantic... League
August 19, 2022
Charleston Dirty Birds vs Lancaster Barnstormers
Still just a resting point on a vacation, but here we were again in Charleston, West Virginia. We have seen the park from the outside on a 2019 trip. This time, however, they were playing a game. No different than the rest of the world, so much has changed in that time.
Appalachian Power Park is named after the local utility company that supplies the area and opened in 2005. In conjunction with the stadium, the team rebranded to the nickname of the West Virginia Power… how ironic. The team played in the Low A South Atlantic League and predominantly used Pirate-like logos.
As for Appalachian Power Park itself: it seems to be a source of pride for the state. Along the way it has hosted Division I college baseball for state institutions West Virginia University and Marshall University. It also hosts state baseball championships. According to Wikipedia, it has also hosted a portion of the 2008 World’s Strongest Man competition and the 50th South Atlantic League All Star Game in 2009.
2020 happened and many changes occurred. Major League Baseball seized control of Minor League Baseball; not really that difficult since MLB provides the greatest asset: the players. MLB also decided to restructure and reduce the amount of teams. Obviously economic based, primary factors seemed to be location and age/condition of facilities (player amenities, stadium). Apparently Appalachian Power Park and the West Virginia Power didn’t meet the profile and were dropped from affiliated professional baseball.
Picked up to play in the Atlantic League, the team also rebranded and changed name to the Charleston Dirty Birds. The Dirty Bird is a canary such as would be used in the coal mines to test for dangerous conditions for the miners, thus helping preserve life for the workers.
The team plays in the South Division with two teams from North Carolina and two teams playing out of Lexington, KY… with the league constantly working on further expansion.
A park with a lot of character, it is easy to tell why it was dropped from MLB affiliated pro ball. The stadium is very reminiscent of Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium. There’s a lot of concrete, metal bleachers, huge open concourses, just not modern and perhaps no plans for upgrades and improvements. I will say that is nice to see a few of these style parks still in existence… and a crowd that seemed to be happy to be there on a comfortable Friday night in August.
APPALACHIAN POWER PARK
We also enjoyed learning about "The Toastman" — an icon for West Virginia baseball!