Team: Wilson Tobs
Affiliate: N/A (Coastal Plain League)
Ballpark Basics: A classic ballpark that is like taking a step back in time.
Turning off of Tarboro Street, one of the main drags through Wilson, you appear to be turning into any one of the residential streets in town. However, halfway down the block you notice the classic covered grandstand of Fleming Stadium tucked into this residential neighborhood.
Built in 1939, Fleming Stadium is a grand old ballpark that is like stepping back in time. Baseball greats such as Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle have played on this field and entertainment giants such as Elvis Presley have performed at the park. Movie Buff Trivia: Fleming Stadium was used in the rainout scene for Bull Durham.
As if the ballpark did not house enough history on its own, down the third base line is the North Carolina Baseball Museum. Here you will find memorabilia from native North Carolinians that made it to the big leagues. There is also a room dedicated to North Carolina high school and college baseball.
All of the seating is within the grandstand, with the first seven rows consisting of seats with seat backs and the top rows are bleacher seating. However, many people congregate down the baselines where there are open areas to watch the game from.
Best Spot For Beer: There are two main places to get your beer fix at a Tobs game. The first one is the SweetWater Pub, located near the front concourse plaza you can find four different selections from SweetWater Brewing Company here. Your other option is the Tobs Beer Garden located down the first base line. On top of the big boys they also have “craft” options from Lonerider, SweetWater, Wicked Weed, Golden Road and Goose Island here.
North Carolina is a state with a rich history in Minor League Baseball and there are a number of ballparks to see as you cross the state. We can’t recommend making a stop in Wilson highly enough.
217 Brew Works
Wilson is trying hard to be a destination for travelers road-trippers winding their way through North Carolina. It’s hard to miss signs for the Wilson Whirligig Park more than 100 miles outside of town, but there’s another, less advertised reason to stop, 217 Brew Works. The building that once housed an old livery stable in the tobacco warehouse district, has been left largely as originally intended. Exposed brick and pipes, thick wood plank roof and even hitching rings on some walls. The public portion of the brewery isn’t terribly large, but it more than suits. Brew works to the back left, taps on the right.
When 217 first came on to the scene they were cautiously welcomed by a town more used to Bud Light. They credit their success with community support (you can find their beers at least 30 different businesses. They are repaying the love by supporting local themselves – they purchase ingredients for a few different beers from local farmers, and much of their furniture comes from a local company that incorporates tobacco leaves in their construction. There are lots of stickers, flyers and guest taps support other NC (and beyond) breweries and a chalkboard which records the purchases of those who “buy it forward” for another future patron.
Pull up a spot at the highly-lacquered L shaped bar, and make your selection from single serve wine, cider, soda or -of course – beer. You know which one we chose:
Whirligig Half Wit (6.8%ABV/42 IBU) A unique wheat/IPA hybrid, the Whirligig smells a little appley with a wheat presence. Apple juice in color, the palate is sparkly and drier than expected because of the IPA hop addition. Also ends with a decent, solid hoppy bite.
Farmhouse Honeymoon (7.1% ABV/18 IBU) Almost identical in color to the sweet potato IPA, but oddly, smelled like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. The taste also was a sweet honey, watermelon taste which made this beer our least favorite.
Ides of March Marzen (6.3% ABV/20 IBU) Another sweet beer. Caramel colored with lots of can sugar taste. As sweet as the honeymoon, but a richer, buttery sweet instead of a fruity one. The Ides has a slight bready finish that becomes more pronounced as it warms.
Sweet potato IPA (6.5% ABV/48 IBU) Kanda Gadda (or the elephant yam) are a locally grown addition to this recipe. This ale has the same orangey-golden color as the Honeymoon, but smells very floral. Thin flavor ends with lemongrass and a floral bouquet that’s full but not chewy, and a slightly tart finish.
Brute and Blaggard (7.2% ABV 66 IBU) – An American Black Ale, and the only one of the day that left lacing. Rich and malty with a nutty coffee front and caramel finish. Despite this, it’s not sweet like several of the others, roasted and good, one of the best available during our visit.
Mule Train DIPA (7.7% ABV/60 IBU) Tart, sweet and even a little citrusy. This light golden clolored beer was tangy, cooling and has a delayed hop bite. Though not a hazy bomb, a solid, juicy addition to the DIPA world.
217 South Street South
Wilson, NC 27893