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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Not many teams can boast playing at the same stadium throughout their whole history. Even with many league and affiliation changes, the Wilson Tobs have played their home games at Historic Fleming Stadium since it was built in 1940. While professional baseball was last played at Fleming in 1973, the Wilson Tobs are one of the original members of the Coastal Plain League and have played all their games where they always have. The stadium itself reflects ballparks of the past, but the food offerings and general feeling around the park continue to make it a great place to catch a game.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are four places to get food and drink, but they do not disappoint in price or selection. Start at a food truck called Ward's Steak and Cheese located to the left of the entrance. This is where you can find most of your conventional stadium food. Ward's serves locally made hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and of course, steak and cheese sandwiches.
If you can't find what you are looking for at Ward's, try the main concession stand. Here you can find peanuts along with other typical snacks, bottled Pepsi products, slices of pizza, and famous Bill Ellis BBQ Sandwich. Bill's, based in Wilson, is world famous BBQ and has been called the "Microsoft of BBQ in NC." Such high praise makes it a great meal for a ballpark.
Sharing the same building with the main concession stand is All Good Produce and Ice Cream. This is the kind of stand that should be standard in all ballparks but sadly, is not. The ice cream is homemade and comes in 12 different flavors. There are also three flavors of shaved ice. Most of this is pretty standard across stadiums, except for the homemade part. The real reason this stadium stands out is the fact that it offers fresh fruit. A slice of watermelon is $2 and a fresh peach is 50˘. On a hot, summer day, nothing is better than fresh, juicy fruit. This should absolutely be a part of all stadiums.
Finally, there is a beer garden along with a picnic area in right field. The beer stand is nicely decorated and very well priced too. Cans and 24oz bottles are $4 or $3 on any Thursday. This stand, along with the rest of the concession options, is one of the best mixes of value, variety, and quality there is.
The stadium looks similar to some smaller minor league stadiums with its ad covered walls and large grandstand. The grandstand looks similar to the one at War Memorial Stadium. In the grandstand, you can choose to sit in either the general admission sections or the reserved seats. The only difference between the two seats is the proximity to the playing surface. A nice touch I noticed is the inclusion of family sections. There is no alcohol allowed in sections 107 and 207. These sections are opposite the beer garden and are a good option for families who don't want to spend the whole game next to a group of rowdy fans enjoying alcohol.
The scoreboard is a basic 9 inning scoreboard but lacks a radar gun. Slugger, the tobacco worm, is the mascot of the Tobs, a very clever choice in mascot. The PA announcer is charismatic and gives several popular advertisements including an insurance ad whenever a foul ball is hit.
Fleming Stadium is built in a residential area, so there isn't much happening around the park. Luckily, Wilson is home to some great comfort food. One option is Dick's hot dogs, built in 1921. Fully operational for 90 years, a Dick's famous hot dog will still only cost you $1.55. Along with the great food, there are also countless autographed pictures of famous people from all over the world. No matter where you sit in the restaurant, you will likely find a picture of someone you recognize.
Another option is either of the famous local BBQ restaurants: Parker's and Bill's. Locals all have their favorite, but both are great options for Eastern NC vinegar-based BBQ. Bill's is a bit closer (and available in the stadium), but neither are more than a 5 min drive.
The quality of the fans is all dependent on when you go. If you attend a weekday game, the reserved section is barley full. On weekends, the stadium is much more filled out. The fans that do come are knowledgeable and know when to cheer. One man brings a cow bell and rings it for Tobs hits, opposing outs, and whenever any other major event happens.
Wilson is one of the NC cities located on the main highway on the east coast, I-95. Fleming Stadium is about a 10 min drive from the interstate. As you approach the stadium, there are several parking spaces including a large lot right near the box office. As an added bonus, all parking is free. The restrooms are very clean.
Tickets are $7 for reserved seats and $6 for general admission. Along with the values at the concession stand, the Tobs are a good value. Everything is just about the right price and even a little cheaper than some bigger stadiums.
Something to watch for is the promotions the Tobs run. There is a promotion just about every night so be sure to check and see what the deal is the night you go. One promotion is ladies night which is every Tuesday during which tickets for women are half price.
If you walk in to the main grandstand entrance before the first pitch, you will likely see the Tobs GM standing at the entrance. He is standing there, shaking hands and just making friendly conversation.
A good reason to come early to the game is to see the North Carolina baseball museum. This building is full of autographed cards, game-used jerseys, and other memorabilia from all of the baseball greats from North Carolina (and there are quite a few of them). The museum closes at 4PM (5PM on Sundays), so be sure to come early to see this amazing place.
The Wilson Tobs have always been associated with their stadium. The stadium is a good one, and one that the Tobs can be proud of. Fleming offers some great concession options along with a fun atmosphere and a great museum. Altogether, this stadium is one of the best in the Coastal Plain League.
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1500 West Nash St
Wilson, NC 27893
2514 US Highway 301 S
Wilson, NC 27893
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