Good morning! Greetings from Brooklyn, where I got back to Uni Watch HQ late last night (and not a moment too soon for Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin, who I think missed me almost as much as I missed her!).
The photo above shows me with ECU infielder Cam Murphy moments after he caught my first pitch prior to Tuesday’s ECU/Campbell ballgame in
Greeneville Purpleville, N.C. Like everyone else I met during my trip, he was really swell (and, as you’ll see in a minute, saved me from a bit of potential embarrassment).
The scene at the ECU game was really fun, but I was puzzled by the low turnout from our comm-uni-ty. ECU told me they’d sold 16 tickets with the Uni Watch discount code as of two weeks ago, so I figured maybe 20 people would show up. Instead, only five people were on hand. Surprising, but we still had plenty of fun, and at least I wasn’t in the usual situation of talking a little bit with everyone but not enough with anyone.
I owe a huge debt of thanks to Uni Watch reader and Greenville native Michael Grubb. When I first announced that I’d be coming to Greenville, Mike immediately offered to be my local point person. He gave me advice on where to eat, where to hold the Uni Watch party, etc. He also had dinner with me when I arrived in town on Monday night, left work early on Tuesday so he could play catch with me to warm up my arm before the game, and was generally super-generous-spirited. He’s a great ambassador for Greenville! Here he is during our dinner on Monday night:
(If you’re wondering about the vittles, don’t worry — I’ll have a separate post about my barbecue adventures on this trip.)
Here’s Mike again (on the right), along with my longtime friend Tim Adams (center) and Tim’s brother Tom, who drove up from Durham for the game:
Also on hand was the great Ron Ruelle — the man behind the Brooklyn Branches! — who came up from Wilmington, N.C. After many years of corresponding and collaborating with him, it was great to finally meet him. Here he is with his girlfriend, Alice Yadon (and dig Ron’s awesome Tennessee Tech shirt!):
That was our entire crew. Since there were so few of us, ECU let everyone mill about on the field for a few minutes before my first pitch. Here’s a shot of me kibbitzing with with one of the ECU athletics guys (whose name I didn’t get, unfortunately). In the background is intern Jessie, who gave me a tour of the stadium when I arrived:
Ron got this fun selfie that also shows me talking with that same ECU guy (and also provides a good view of my purple stirrups!):
If you look closely, you can see that Ron is wearing one of the Branch Rickety pins, made from the actual Brooklyn branch by the DIYer extraordinaire Wafflebored!
This next shot shows me with one of the team’s student managers, who said he’s a big Uni Watch fan — super-nice guy:
Soon it was time for the first pitch. Look at that form, people:
Here’s the whole (very short) thing, captured on video:
As you can see, my toss was a little hit high and outside, but Cam immediately jumped out of his crouch to reel it in. Thanks, buddy! (Also: I didn’t realize this until I watched the video, but Cam wears No. 0!)
And yes, I cringed a bit when the P.A. guy mispronounced “Uni Watch,” but whaddaya gonna do. All in all, a really fun experience, and everyone seemed amused (if also somewhat confused) that I was celebrating a color I dislike.
I was hoping maybe more people would be on hand for the afterparty. As it turned out, only one additional person showed up, but it was an important one: the great Gabe Cornwall, who’s been a tireless advocate for North Carolina uniforms for at least a decade now. After all these years of emailing with him, it was a treat to meet him:
Gabe was about the only person I met all day who wasn’t wearing purple. He said he dislikes it even more than I do!
All in all: a really fun day! I’m indebted to my NYC friends Rich Meyer, Michael McMahon, and Jay Jaffe, who helped me loosen up my hinge by playing catch with me in the weeks preceding my trip; to Parker Eason in the ECU Athletics Dept. for agreeing to do this crazy promotion and coordinating everything smoothly; to designer/illustrator Bryan Molloy for collaborating with me on this year’s T-shirt; to everyone who helped support this year’s Purp Walk by purchasing T-shirts, caps, posters, and membership cards; to Ron Ruelle and Alice Yadon for taking most of the photos in this post; and, again, to reader Michael Grubb for all his friendship and hospitality.
Two other Purp Walk odds and ends: First, in case you missed it in yesterday’s Ticker, the Empire State Building got the memo:
— Empire State Building (@EmpireStateBldg) May 16, 2023
Also, as you can see from this screen shot supplied by reader David Gregson, our website’s ad network apparently got the memo as well:
That’s pretty funny, right?
Okay, that’s a wrap for Purp Walk 2023. Can’t wait for next year’s installment! I already have some ideas about that…..