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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Fleming Stadium – Wilson Tobs


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Fleming Stadium 300 Stadium St SW Wilson, NC 27893


Year Opened: 1939

Capacity: 3,000

 

Where the Tobs are in Wilson

Fleming Stadium has stood proudly in Wilson, North Carolina since it was built in 1939. The venerable facility still looks as sharp as it was when first built, and in an era of ultra-modern baseball facilities its good to know that an old reliable is still being utilized for summertime baseball. The home of the Wilson Tobs of the Coastal Plain League still has a lot to offer the baseball fan.

The Tobs are one of a few original members of the collegiate wood bat league that began operations in 1997, the ball club borrows its name from a long list of minor league teams that have used the name, short for Tobacconists, dating back to 1908. The last professional Tobs operated out of Fleming Stadium from 1956 to 1968 and featured a future MLB Hall of Famer, Rod Carew during the 1966 season.

Sadly, minor league ball left the stadium after the 1973 season and it would not be until 1997 that current Tobs franchise began operations. The team colors of black and gold featuring a think tobacco leaf on its hat may be somewhat of a surprise, but in Tobacco Country, the image seems normal–even if you can’t smoke cigarettes in the stadium.

Fleming Stadium is classically-styled ballpark that features a covered grandstand, chair backs, and bleacher-style seats, a simple scoreboard, and a beer garden down the first base foul line. Another feature is the North Carolina Baseball Hall of Fame down the third baseline that houses an array of memorabilia and highlights seven MLB Hall of Famers including Catfish Hunter, Hoyt Wilheim, and Gaylord Perry.

What is it like taking in a game at Historic Fleming Stadium as it enters its eighth decade of operations? It’s a throwback to baseball when many of us were kids, a simple time of being out with friends and family, or a night where you can stretch your dollar underneath the warm Carolina skies.

Food & Beverage 4

Fleming Stadium offers a few places to purchase food and drink at the stadium and offer quite a bit of variety that will not break your wallet. Ward’s Steak and Cheese offers food on site from their food truck and includes locally made hot dogs, burgers, and cheesesteak sandwiches. The main concession stand offers pizza, barbecue sandwiches, chips, peanuts, and Pepsi products.

There are also ice cream varieties in at least 12 different flavors along with shaved ice that uses fresh fruit for its toppings. There are options of fresh fruit from peaches to watermelon slices, but if you want something sweet, deep fried Oreo cookies are affordable for five for $3.

The beer garden, which has been updated last season (2018), is a popular spot–especially on Thirsty Thursdays, where prices are slashed in half–$3 to $4 depending on beers. This is also a great social area to meet up with friends and family and enjoy a great night of baseball during the warm Carolina summer nights.

Atmosphere 3

Wilson Stadium is a throwback design to baseball right before World War II and has a simple grandstand with a covered roof, the ceilings offer fans to cool you off a tad during warm nights and there is plenty of room to find a seat or stretch out during Tobs games.

Games are laid back and calm for the most part, attendance is somewhat tepid for most nights and the largest amount of people are usually in the beer garden, but it is an older stadium in a small town offering baseball that should be appreciated for the 9 innings of play.

The basic scoreboard is behind the left field. 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 and whenever a foul ball is hit.

Neighborhood 3

Fleming Stadium is situated in a residential neighborhood not too far away from I-95 and I-795 exits. There are a few retail shopping centers near the I-95 exit and a few great places to eat in town as well that should not be overlooked.

At one time Wilson was home to a few highly regarded barbecue joints and only a few remain. Parker’s Barbecue remains open offering Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar-based barbecue sauce sprinkled on chopped pork. Also try the Brunswick stew, corn sticks, and oysters while you are at the restaurant.

Dick’s Hot Dog Stands has been a local institution for almost a century and a hot dog with Dick’s famous chili will only cost $2.15. They also have burgers, steak sandwiches, subs, gyros, and roast pork sandwiches. The ambiance is nostalgic and it’s one of those places you will be glad you visited once your stay is over in town.

Fans 3

There are a collection of fans who make their presence felt at home games underneath the grandstand roof. They holler, yell, and make as much noise as they can to edge the Tobs to victory. There are others who sit back and enjoy the simple art of keeping score. In total, it’s a laid back kind of atmosphere among the fan base. Weekend games will bring out more fans to the game and you will see plenty of them in the beer garden socializing more than watching the game. Depending on what day you attend a game, the fans could be somewhat quiet or festive, but look for the die-hards keeping score, they probably have a few good stories to share about the club.

Access 3

Wilson is located about 10 minutes from both I-95 and I-795. The stadium offers free grass parking lots and the concourse behind the grandstand is wide enough to house concessions, restrooms, and souvenir stands for easy access. It’s an old-school stadium with old bones, but crowds are never quite large enough where they would be any hassle–except for the occasional game on Independence Day.

Return on Investment 4

Reserved tickets are $8 and adult general admission tickets are $7 at the box office. Kids general admission and military/police/fire department tickets are $6. All kids under the age of 5 are admitted free into the stadium. The Tobs offer promotions on concessions and beers on certain nights that should be happy on your wallet and it can be a lot of fun enjoying a game that won’t cost you more than $20 if you pick the right night.

Extras 3

The NC Baseball Museum is located down the third baseline of the ballpark and offers a collection of material that includes jerseys, photographs, equipment, and other memorabilia. The museum highlights the seven men from the state who are enshrined in Cooperstown: Catfish Hunter, Jim Perry, and Hoyt Wilhelm to name a few.

Fleming Stadium looks great for its age, a ballpark that has been around before the start of World War II is still a very serviceable ballpark in fabulous condition.

The updated beer garden down the first baseline is a perfect gathering spot for fans and fits in perfectly well to the historic facility.

Final Thoughts

Fleming Stadium is a great old-fashion ballpark that is the perfect vessel for the Wilson Tobs in the Coastal Plain League. The ticket prices are low, concessions locally made, and enough promotional nights that should attract more than enough visitors to the stadium. It is also close by a wealth of other minor league stadiums that provide a perfect chance to enjoy a little more baseball on your travels.

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