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 Burlington Sock Puppets

Sock Puppets Keep Baseball Fun in Burlington

by Fran Stuchbury
August 2, 2023 - Appalachian League (ApL)
Burlington Sock Puppets


Burlington Sock Puppets exchange high fives with the home fans
Burlington Sock Puppets exchange high fives with the home fans
(Burlington Sock Puppets, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)

Saturday the Appalachian League's Burlington Sock Puppets played their final home game of the season against the Elizabethton River Riders, clinching the East Division title with a 3-2 victory. Burlington will meet Johnson City in Wednesday's championship game.

The Sock Puppets play at the Burlington Athletic Stadium which opened in 1960. Now informally named "Sockville," it has a 3,500 seat capacity.

Previous teams that played in Burlington included the Carolina Indians from 1958 until 1964 and the Burlington Indians, a Rookie Level team in the Appalachian League, from 1986 until 2006. They rebranded as the Burlington Royals when they became affiliated with the Kansas City Royals from 2007 until 2020.

The Appalachian League had previously operated as a Class D League during four stints through 1962, then as a Rookie Advanced League from 1963 until 2020. In 2021 the Appalachian League reorganized as a collegiate summer baseball league, and Burlington changed its name to Burlington Sock Puppets. The name pays homage to Burlington's textile heritage.

The current Appalachian League consists of ten teams, all of which adopted colorful nicknames during the league's last transition. The Sock Puppets, Bluefield Ridge Runners, Danville Otterbots, Princeton WhistlePigs and Pulaski River Turtles make up the East Division. The teams in the West are the Bristol State Liners, Elizabethton River Riders, Greeneville Flyboys, Johnson City Doughboys, and Kingsport Axeman.

The Sock Puppets are owned by Ryan and Brittany Keur of Knuckleball Entertainment and managed by Anthony Essien.

Long-time mascot Bingo is still around. They created a second mascot for the team named Socksquatch. In addition, Sock Puppets entertainer Wiff interacted with the crowd.

Parking was free and general admission ticket cost just $9, which also earned a Sock Puppets cap and a Socksquatch Lab Bobblehead, both game giveaways. The team store featured a nice variety of merchandise as well.

Outside the team store a Sock Puppet station allowed fans to create their own sock puppets to take home.

The Sock Puppets rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first to win the five-inning, rain-shortened contest 3-2 before 2,627 fans.

The Sock Puppets tied it in the fourth with a two-run home run by third baseman Evan Appelwick. He spent his sophomore season in Miami - Ohio before transferring to Indiana.

Burlington scored the winner in the bottom of the fifth inning when lead-off hitter, center fielder Landon Russell singled to bring home catcher Tyler Sparrer. Russell plays at Gulf Coast State JC.

When the rain came down the team did not put place a tarp on the field, so continuing after the rain stopped would have been impractical.

When the game concluded, the Sock Puppets players went into the stands and gave fans high fives to celebrate winning the division.

A Sock Puppets game proved to be an enjoyable, affordable trip that allowed spectators a very close view of the action.





Images from this story

Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Sock Puppets
Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Sock Puppets

(Fran Stuchbury)
Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Sock Puppets
Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Sock Puppets

(Fran Stuchbury)
Author Fran Stuchbury poses with the Sock Puppets mascot
Author Fran Stuchbury poses with the Sock Puppets mascot

(Fran Stuchbury)
Burlington Sock Puppets Sock Puppet Making Station
Burlington Sock Puppets Sock Puppet Making Station

(Fran Stuchbury)
Burlington Sock Puppets game action
Burlington Sock Puppets game action

(Fran Stuchbury)
Burlington Sock Puppets exchange high fives with the home fans
Burlington Sock Puppets exchange high fives with the home fans

(Fran Stuchbury)

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Appalachian League Stories from August 2, 2023


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