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Official Review by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Presbyterian College is quite the interesting place. Though it has the smallest enrollment in Division I athletics (1,200 students) and only started playing baseball at the sport's highest level in the 2007-2008 season, there is much more to the tale of the Blue Hose.
This Big South Conference member institution first opened its doors in the Laurens County, South Carolina town of Clinton in 1880. The school's most notable graduate is Pro Bowl defensive back Justin Bethel, though politicians, military officers, musicians and many others have made great contributions to society after turning their tassels at Presbyterian.
The historic Presbyterian campus features all of its athletic facilities in the same general vicinity at the rear of the grounds. The PC Baseball Complex is part of the group of facilities, and it is, much like the rest of its fellow buildings, unassuming, though it effectively serves its purpose.
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There are no concession stands of any kind at the PC Baseball Complex. Thankfully, there appears to be no restriction on outside products brought into the facility, aside from tobacco and alcohol. It is strongly suggested to pick up any drinks or snacks you may need before heading to a game.
The environment at the PC Baseball Complex is very much baseball-first. This is not so much a bad thing, mind you. Many of the outside distractions in other parks are not found here, allowing fans to focus on the action on the field.
There is just one section of fixed seats behind the plate, with only a few rows in the section. If you really crave an actual seat, it is probably best to arrive early to ensure a place to sit. The better option, though, is to bring a folding chair and sit on the bank down either baseline. There is also standing room along the fences on each baseline. If you wish to cheer on the homestanding Blue Hose, they occupy the first base dugout.
The ballpark features a standard scoreboard, with the line score, ball/strike/out indicators and at bat information displayed. There is no real press box, with the PA announcer and any media under tents between the stands and Presbyterian dugout. The PA announcer is clearly audible throughout the park, so there is no problem with hearing the announcements from any seat or standing position. Another clever touch took place on the day I visited, as the falling of a light rain prompted the playing of "It's Raining Men" and "Walking On Sunshine" between innings.
One more item of note: There are no lights at the PC Baseball Complex. Therefore, games usually do not start later than 3:00. Arrive early and bring lots of sunscreen.
Much like the school it houses, Clinton is a town of few residents. Just over 8,000 people call Clinton home, meaning that there will not be an abundance of options for post-game entertainment.
Dempsey's Pizza is nearby, but most of the food options are near Interstate 26, about four miles from the campus. Two such options are Tony's Pizza and Subs, located on Jacobs Highway, and FATZ Cafe. Tony's is one of a group of stores in the Upstate region of South Carolina, and the pizzas, sandwiches and salads are worth a stop for a meal or snack. The eatery also maintains a close relationship with Presbyterian. FATZ is part of a chain with stores throughout the southeast, and is famous for its Calabash (lightly-breaded) chicken and other regional specialties. FATZ can be found near the intersection of South Carolina Highway 72 and Interstate 26.
Though they play in a smaller park on a smaller campus in a smaller town, Presbyterian draws a hearty group of fans. The seats behind the plate are quickly filled. This is no hindrance, however, as a lot of the Blue Hose supporters set up tents or chairs on the bank behind the Blue Hose dugout. A few even take the opportunity to calmly and politely (wink, wink) express their disapproval with umpires when calls do not go the way of the home nine. Presbyterian fans do not sit on their hands, as they are certainly audible when trying to rally the team. It is possible, though, to hear the players on the field chattering more than the fans, at times.
Another interesting note is that Presbyterian tends to draw a lot of fans from visiting teams. The South Carolina locale is a clear attraction to supporters of those teams from cooler northern weather early in the season, and many Big South teams tend to travel well.
Presbyterian is located a few minutes off South Carolina Interstate 26 between Columbia and the Greenville/Spartanburg area. Those wishing to visit Presbyterian by air have the option to fly into the Columbia (CAE) or Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) airports. Either market is approximately an hour drive from Clinton. Interstates 26 and 385 serve other markets in the Palmetto State from Clinton, along with several South Carolina state highways and US Highway 76.
There are several parking areas around the complex, but each comes with its own set of concerns. The college's Greek housing is located behind the first base side of the field, so if you park near the Greek housing, try to enter down the right field line. If you choose to walk past the houses to the main entrance behind the plate, you will notice that beer cans and other things which will go unmentioned in this piece will line your journey.
There is also parking behind the third base dugout, but with the proximity of the parking to the field, there is a great possibility that your car will be "accessorized" by a foul ball. The walk is considerably better -- and shorter -- this way, though. This is all to say that one should choose wisely when selecting a parking spot.
There are no real restrooms inside the gates of the park. There are, however, portable restrooms in the parking area just outside the seating area. The gates to Bailey Memorial Stadium are open during PC baseball games, as well. This allows fans to use the larger, more modern and, most importantly, fixed facilities of the PC football stadium. If exiting the stadium down the left field line, the stadium and its restrooms are just yards across the parking lot and grass.
Admission is free to all PC home games. This is, of course, an unbeatable deal. Big South Conference baseball plays at the Division I level, and Presbyterian draws great opponents both inside and outside the conference.
If you bring food and drinks from home, it is literally possible to see a college baseball game without paying a dime.
A statue of a player in mid-swing donated by Irwin Belk can be found just inside the main entrance. While admiring this piece of artwork, grab a free copy of the game roster, a pocket schedule and schedule magnet. These are all found in a rack adjacent to the statue.
Though there are no ticket takers at the ballpark, you will be greeted by an extremely helpful event staff. If you have any questions or concerns, find one of these individuals, and they will solve your concerns with a smile.
Though the PC Baseball Complex may not be Carolina Stadium, there is great value in seeing a game here. You can stroll through the gates, choose your preferred seating and watch a game free of charge, surrounded by friendly people. If you're a true fan of the game and do not require the outside entertainment on which many rely at a game in the 21st century, pull off the interstate and visit Clinton for an afternoon.
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111 Jacobs Hwy
Clinton, SC 29325
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