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Baseball has served as the pastime of preference in Asheville, North Carolina, for more than a century. Nearly anywhere a flat lot can be found in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, baseball has been played by locals and visitors alike, with many of the city's greatest thrills created by the hometown Tourists, who have been mainstays in the professional ranks for most of the past 80 years. Oates Park, where author Thomas Wolfe toiled as a batboy prior to attending the University of North Carolina, served as the home of the Mountaineers, Tourists, and the semi-pro Asheville Royal Giants during the first three decades of the 20th century until McCormick Field was built in the mid-1920s. The ballpark, just south of downtown Asheville, welcomed the likes of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth during exhibition contests, while future Hall of Famers Eddie Murray and Willie Stargell and current standouts Todd Helton and Juan Pierre honed their skills in the mountains on their way to the game's top level.
Author Bio: In Baseball in Asheville author Bill Ballew has compiled a vast array of photographs, containing many of the key contributors to the storied history that makes up Asheville baseball. A native of western North Carolina and a resident of the Asheville area since 1995, Ballew is a freelance baseball writer and the author of five previous books. He is currently in his third season as the director of media relations for the Asheville Tourists.
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