David Couch Ballpark
Review by Gary
The ballpark known today as David Couch Ballpark probably never looked as sterile as it does today, thanks mostly to funds provided by one of Wake Forest University’s most successful alums. Baseball purists will always call this ballfield in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Ernie Shore Field, named after the former teammate of Babe Ruth who later became the local sheriff. Today, the field itself is named after another Demon Deacon alum and baseball player, so Shore’s name is almost gone from this once-great venue.
Once home to many a minor league team carrying the Winston-Salem name, the stadium was home to the Carolina League’s Twins (1956), Red Birds (1957–1960), Red Sox (1961–1994), Warthogs (1995–2008) and Dash for one season in 2009. The latter moved their beautiful park in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem for the 2010 season.
A fun fact about Ernie Shore Field is that it was used for some key scenes in the 1990 movie, Mr. Destiny, starring Jim Belushi and Linda Hamilton. The stadium was renovated in 1993 and again in 2016, and while the overall look of the ballpark is similar to when it was first built, most of the history has been scrubbed from this historic site, with only the echo of Ernie Shore Field remaining. Much of the cost of the renovations went towards behind-the-scenes facilities and the like. The ballpark seats 6,200 sits in the shadow of the Wake Forest football stadium and across the street from a cigarette manufacturing plant.
With an all-AstroTurf field from Homeplate to the outfield walls, painted in the colors of grass and dirt, the playing surface seems somewhat too perfect to be real. The sea of local advertising that used to adorn the walls is gone, save for a few billboards. The concourse is fairly spacious with good sightlines from any seat, all of which run from pole to pole. Bleacher seating down the lines and high-top tables offer some variation to the individual seats behind home, but only a few of these are covered by the small roof behind home plate that has been there for years.
Night games are probably predominant on the Demon Deacons schedule during the Carolina summers. Let’s hope the Wake Forest alum who dedicated the funds to the stadium that now bears his name likes how his money was spent. At least they kept the plaques commemorating Ernie Shore on display for all to see at the main entrance.