Cape Fear Crocs Strike Out In Fayetteville
Posted July 7, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — Baseball is supposed to be America's favorite pastime, but that does not seem to be the case in Fayetteville.
This is the last season for the single A minor league baseball team, theCape Fear Crocs. Instead of packing stadium seats, the franchise says it cannot even give away tickets.
For the past year, Amos Small has served Cape Fear Crocs fans with a smile and often a whistle or two. By August 31, the laughs will come to an end as Fayetteville says goodbye to America's favorite pastime.
Amos says what he will miss most is the people.
"People in North Carolina are the friendliest people. They come here and joke with you," he says.
Missing only four games in seven years, Mary Mercer also hates to see the Crocs go. However after years of seeing empty seats at J.P. Riddle Stadium, she knew her good times were numbered.
"It just hasn't gotten the support here from fans, other than the hard-core fans," Mercer says.
At the beginning of the season, the Crocs gave out 60,000 free passes to students all over Cumberland County. On opening night, 73 students showed up.
Crocs general manager Buck Rogers says he does not have an answer for the small turnout.
"Minor league baseball is an important part of Americana. It's the apple pie thing," Rogers says. "Babe Ruth hit his first home run here for God's sake. How can you deny that?"
Next year, the Crocs will be the Lakewood BlueClaws at their new home in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Even with the Crocs gone, there is a chance to go out to the ballgame in Fayetteville next summer.
The Coastal Plain League, a summer league for college all-star players, will play a 50-game schedule at Riddle Stadium.