Coming full circle, plus a little of this and that

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/5/19

I had the best meal I’ve had in a while the other night, and no it wasn’t Steak Street, Jimmy V’s, or any other five-star restaurant. It was at the Centerfield Grill at Bray Park.

Now the …

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Coming full circle, plus a little of this and that

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I had the best meal I’ve had in a while the other night, and no it wasn’t Steak Street, Jimmy V’s, or any other five-star restaurant. It was at the Centerfield Grill at Bray Park.

Now the exciting thing for me is that it’s being catered this summer by Café Cakes, a company my family started, including my 16-year old daughter Jillian, who is making me proud with the hard work she’s doing there. To say this takes me back to my childhood is an understatement.

My dad’s father passed away when he was 10, so he had to immediately go to work during those hard times at his uncle’s business, Beane’s Grocery, as a bag and delivery boy to help out his family of eight kids. Due to the necessity of his work, he was allowed to play one sport, and he chose baseball. So you best believe when I was a child I was stuck on the ball field at the age of four, then on the football field, and then on the basketball court. It rotated annually and he made sure I had the opportunity to play all that wasn’t afforded to him.

Through the years, those sporting memories have meant more to me than just about anything other than my kids, family, and friends, the latter of whom were often part of athletic endeavors. Whether it was my senior year in football when we were ranked No. 1 in the state at Jordan-Matthews, playing baseball collegiately, coaching football, running out to the Sugar Hill Gang before Chatham Middle Rams basketball games, I have a ton of them.

But some of my best are eating hot dogs at Bray Park as a child during the summertime after baseball games. Anyone that had those hot dogs knows exactly what I’m talking about. The Phillips family had it going on. Back then both teams got a free hot dog and drink, win or lose, paid for by the coaches. During my Little League years, my team often went second, because we seldom won, except for the final season in which the Lions went 9-7. I attribute that season to our coach Kenneth McPherson suiting us up in bright yellow jerseys, navy blue hats and pants, which likely provided a huge distraction to the other team. Kenneth finally found a way to counter those awful all-orange uniforms of the Chatham Foods. Well, almost. Under coaches Dalton Marsh and Kenneth Moody, they still won the league but we manged to get them once.

Regardless, win or lose, those hot dogs had our mouths watering. To the extent that the players shook hands after the game and then ran full speed up the embankments like a herd of cattle in the pasture racing to Bob Wachs’ truck at feeding time.

So now, to be a part of the Bray Park concession stand is pretty much an amazing feeling to me, almost an honor. It’s hard to believe a simple ball park hot dog can make you feel like your life has come full circle, in a way, but it has. The Centerfield Grill has plenty more than just hot dogs, though, including BBQ from Brookwood Farms, fries, hamburgers, popcorn, candy, and more. So if you are in the mood for something good, take a ride over this summer and enjoy some kids playing the game they love, and get some tasty food. And that’s not only at Bray Park, but also Pittsboro, Bonlee, Silk Hope, Goldston, Harper’s Crossroads, Bennett. There is great food at all them. So, like Chatham County has always done, continue to support our area youngsters. It’s a great way to spend some spring and summer nights,

The little bit of “this and that” starts with my rant on Coach K and Rick Barnes. Now I know the first, at least, is a Hall-of-Famer, one of the best of all time. But for the love of all on earth, give Zion Williamson the ball every time down the floor in the final minute. Every possession, he has to touch the ball. No if or ands or buts about it. No one should be allowed to shoot unless the ball is in his hands down in the paint at least once on every possession. I mean, I really believe Coach K was given advice by Barnes, whose Tennessee team lost to Purdue in overtime. In the final minute of that game, Grant Williams, now the two-time SEC Player-of-the-Year, did not get a whiff of the ball in the closing minute with the game on the line. It was disappointing to see, especially for Duke, because I think they do have the best team and would have gone on to win the national title. Maybe both coaches did instruct exactly what I’m saying, I don’t know. I do know that when the game is on the line, you win or lose with the ball in the hands of your best player.

I will end this week by once again paying tribute to the efforts of Northwood’s Jason Amy and Jordan-Matthews’ Andrew Poock. Their work with the Unified Sports and Special Olympics for the intellectually disabled students at both schools is incredible, almost cutting edge. One of the most meaningful stories I’ve ever written was on the basketball game between the schools at Northwood a few months ago, and I just felt it deserved another mention. These two and the others around them work so hard with their student bases in providing games such as football, basketball, soccer, track, and softball, and the community support for these events is absolutely awesome. It goes past sports, however, and also includes events such as socials, dances, picnics. So if you see Jason Amy or Andrew Poock, or anyone involved, let them know that they are doing something wonderful that touches a lot of lives in and out of Chatham County, and how appreciated they are. It’s just another thing that is so right with Chatham County.


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