Top 10 Norfolk Tides Facts You Didn’t Know

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Top 10 Norfolk Tides Facts You Didn’t Know

The Norfolk Tides are one of Triple-A Baseball’s exciting teams every sports fan needs to learn about. In fact, the Tides are a top-level farm club for the Baltimore Orioles. Any Norfolk fan that bleeds Tides’ teal will know every information possible, from the team making the playoffs in 2015 to Triton and Rip Tide being the official mascots. However, there are new Norfolk Tides facts that many baseball supporters never knew or never heard of in their lives. For details on what facts baseball fans rarely knew about, please refer to Top 10 Norfolk Tides Facts You Didn’t Know below!

10: Orioles Played an Exhibition Game vs. Nationals at Harbor Park

It is quite common for Minor League parks to host other events that do not involve their main tenant. For instance, Triple-A venues would host live music concerts on the field either during the season or in the off-season. In fact, big league stadiums would host events not relating to baseball, such as college bowl games and high school graduations. But sometimes, Major Leagues clubs would occasionally play games at Triple-A ballparks in order to showcase themselves in the Minor League cities’ communities. Well, that was the case for Harbor Park in Norfolk when the Orioles played an exhibition contest vs. Nationals. 

Just a couple days before Opening Day in 2008, Baltimore took on their cross-town rival Washington at the Tides stadium. The rare matchup was so much a big deal that tickets were sold out weeks in advance. The Orioles returned to Harbor Park in 2014 as they took on the Norfolk Tides in Virginia. Similar to the one in 2008, the contest was an exhibition event that occurred shortly after Spring Training. Having a big league contest at a Triple-A venue was a great idea because it allows Orioles fans to visit a stadium that they don’t visit often. 

9: Tides Have 7 International League MVP Winners in Franchise History

Winning a major award is considered a huge deal in professional baseball, especially for those who are trying to get to the Major Leagues. If a person wins Pitcher of the Year or Rookie of the Year, then this achievement could bolster his chances of getting called up to the big leagues. Also, that person might face the scenario of receiving an invite to spring camp from his team’s parent club. Luckily, for the Tides, they have made Norfolk proud by winning seven MVP awards. As a matter of fact, the team has won player awards along with one of the best open-air stadiums in Virginia. 

OF Mike Vail became the first Tides player to claim MVP honors in 1975 (0.342 BA, 7 HR, 79 RBIs), while INF Randy Milligan won the International League MVP in 1987 (0.326 BA, 29 HR, 103 RBIs). 3B Tom O’Malley received the MVP trophy in 1989 (0.295 BA, 15 HR, 84 RBIs), while INF Jeff Manto earned his MVP recognition despite being traded to Rochester Red Wings in 1994 (0.286 BA, 31 HR, 100 RBIs).

3B Butch Huskey claimed MVP honors in 1995 (0.284 BA, 28 HR, 87 RBIs), while INF Roberto Petagine won the first of his two league MVPs in 1997 (0.318 BA, 31 HR, 100 RBIs). Recently, 1B Ryan Mountcastle became the first Tides MVP winner in the 21st century in 2019 with a 0.312 batting average with 25 home runs and 83 runs batted in. The first half of these winners came when the team was known as the Tidewater Tides from 1963 until 1992. 

8: Montreal Expos Considered Relocating to Norfolk Before Moving to Washington D.C.

The Montreal Expos are perhaps the most notable big league team that dealt with relocation. The Expos played in Major League Baseball from 1969 until 2004 at the Olympic Stadium. Even though the venue was the home for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, it was becoming outdated and old in the later years. Also, the Expos didn’t have much history in the playoffs other than the Championship Series run in 1981 and a great record in the player strike-shortened season in 1994. But did you know that the Expos considered moving to Norfolk before settling in Washington D.C.? 

When the Montreal club was seeking a new city, Norfolk submitted a bid that would have relocated the Canadian club to Virginia. If Norfolk was to claim the Expos, then a new stadium would have been constructed to meet MLB standards. In addition, the Tides baseball club would have probably needed to relocate somewhere either in the South or on the East Coast. Another thing to point out is that Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos was against any big league team moving to Virginia or Washington D.C. Despite the Norfolk bid and Angelos’ objections, the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital to become the Washington Nationals in time for the 2005 season. 

7: Harbor Park was the Site for the 1998 Triple-A All-Star Game

Over the past three decades, Harbor Park has witnessed some pretty exciting baseball events. For example, the Tides reached their most recent postseason appearance in 2015. In addition, the east coast venue saw only one no-hitter since its opening in 1993. Tides baseball is one of Virginia’s most visited sports attractions along with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Fredericksburg Nationals, and Salem Red Sox. But in 1998, Harbor Park in Norfolk was the official site for the Triple-A All-Star Game. 

For the first and only time in its history, the Tides facility got to host the Minor League’s Midsummer Classic. The event’s main logo has the captain ship’s wheel, which was in connection with the Tides theme. Some of the most high-profile players who took part in the All–Star Game were INF Alex Gonzalez (Charlotte), DH Mike Lowell (Columbus), and OF Jeremy Giambi (Omaha). Team International went on to beat Pacific Coast by the final score of 8-4. By the way, this was the first All-Star Game since the two leagues changed their names to International and Pacific Coast in the late 1990s. 

6: Norfolk Tides Have Thrown 6 No-Hitters, Including One at Harbor Park

The Tides know a thing or two when it comes to throwing no-hitters. In fact, the team has achieved six no-no’s since its inception as the Tidewater Tides in the 1960s. Norfolk is one of the several Triple-A cities to have thrown at least one no-hitters since the early 2000s: Tacoma, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Toledo, Nashville, and Colorado Springs (now San Antonio Missions). Another thing to add is that the Tides went on the wrong side of the accomplishment three times in their club history. But for Harbor Park, the Norfolk stadium has witnessed only one no-hitter since its opening in 1993. 

The first no-no in franchise history took place in 1972, when pitcher Tommy Moore reached that goal against the Rochester Red Wings. In 1992, Dave Telgheder became the first Tides thrower to toss a no-hitter by pitching through all nine innings vs. Pawtucket Red Sox. Now, let’s talk about the only no-no in the history of Harbor Park. In 2001, pitcher Steve Trachsel threw a no-hitter against the Ottawa Lynx (now Lehigh Valley IronPigs) at the Tides stadium. The last Norfolk no-no took place in 2010 when right-hander Chris Tillman achieved one against the Gwinnett Braves (now Stripers) in Georgia. 

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5: Tides Stadium is One of a Couple Triple-A Venues to Have a Train Station

Anytime a sports spectator goes to any game, he or she would definitely need to rely on some sort of transportation to get to the stadium. Fans could either drive their own cars to the parking lot or find a space inside a parking garage. Also, they would focus on public transportation, such as riding in a Lyft® car or calling in a service from Uber®. In some cities like Chicago and New York, they have subway trains that take them from city centers to their preferred ballparks. But did you know that Harbor Park is one of a couple Triple-A venues to have a train station? 

Located not far from the third base side of the stadium is a train area called Harbor Park Station. The train station has three different and exciting local destinations to choose from. First, riders can take the train to MacArthur Square Station in Downtown Norfolk, where they can shop and dine at the MacArthur Center. Next, fans can use the vehicle to get to the Monticello Station that is located a couple blocks from the Norfolk Scope Arena (home of the ECHL Hockey’s Norfolk Admirals). Most importantly, taking the city train in Norfolk is a unique riding experience that should be considered a 365-days-a-year option. 

4: The Tides were a Dynasty in the International League During the 1980s

In recent seasons, the Norfolk Tides have been struggling to compete for a Triple-A championship. Since 2001, the Virginia club has only made the playoffs three times and appeared in the 2010 National Championship. In fact, the last time Norfolk advanced to the postseason was during the 2015 season. Also, the Tides have not won 80 or more games in a single campaign since 2001 (when they finished 85-57). But despite all those struggles, the Norfolk Tides were a dynasty in the International league during the 1980s. 

In that decade, the team went to the playoffs seven times and competed in the International League Championship five times. In addition, the formerly-named Tidewater Tides won three International League titles as well as their only Triple-A championship in franchise history in 1983. Unlike today’s timeline (where the Orioles are the parent club), the New York Mets were the official partner for the Tides. Some of the familiar names on the Tidewater squad ended up making it big in the Major Leagues, such as Manager Davey Johnson, OF Darryl Strawberry, and OF Mookie Wilson. But despite the team’s recent struggles, the Norfolk Tides are one of the most fun clubs to watch on the east coast. 

3: Harbor Park is One of the Two Only Waterfront Stadiums in Triple-A Baseball

Whenever a team decides to build a new stadium, the organization has multiple location styles to decide on. The first option is the downtown ballpark where the team can play in the city center (examples are Memphis RedBirds and Columbus Clippers). The second option is for the stadium to be located on the outskirts of town (examples are Salt Lake Bees and Tacoma Rainiers). Last but not least, the team might elect to place a ballpark as a waterfront venue in order to enhance the game-day experience. But for Harbor Park, the Tides stadium is one of the two only waterfront venues in Triple-A Baseball (other is Principal Park-Iowa Cubs near Des Moines River). 

Harbor Park is located adjacent to the Elizabeth River, not far from Downtown Norfolk. Just in case you are wondering, a home run has never landed in the river because the outfield seats are too far to reach the area. Even though Harbor Park is one of the rare Triple-A waterfront ballparks, the Tides venue is not the only such one in America. Oracle Park in San Francisco is situated next to Mission Bay, while Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati lies close to the Ohio River. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is located adjacent to the Allegheny River, while Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport (Iowa) is situated alongside the Mississippi River. 

2: There was Going to be a Casino Inside the Norfolk Tides Stadium

In most sports venues, they would have another establishment next to them in order to make a higher appeal to fans. To clarify, ballparks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park would have nearby shops and restaurants that could keep fans entertained before the game starts. Also, stadiums would be located in sports complexes (like Kansas City and Philadelphia) in order to develop a go-to location for sporting events. But sometimes, there would be something interesting being built next to the teams’ venues. Believe it or not, there was going to be a real-life casino inside Harbor Park in Norfolk. 

In May 2022, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe announced plans to build a casino within the ballpark. Interestingly, the casino would temporarily be situated in the spot occupied by Hits at the Park restaurant until the full-time building finished construction. By the way, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe chose the Hits at the Park site because the restaurant hasn’t opened since the global pandemic. However, one year later, the casino inside Harbor Park in Norfolk was shelved due to legal concerns from city officials. Fortunately, the casino plan will still go forward for 2023, but the building would be constructed from scratch on the stadium’s parking lot rather than inside the ballpark. 

1: Harbor Park has a Waiter-Style Restaurant, a Rarity in the Minor Leagues

No matter if a fan is a season ticket holder or a one-time visitor, he or she would grab a bite to eat at the stadium. For instance, spectators can find food choices from concession stands in the 1st base or 3rd base concourses. Another thing to add is that there are movable carts like pretzels and hot dogs located throughout the venue. But sometimes, ballparks can modify their overall game-day experience by providing a waiter-style restaurant inside the venues. Fortunately, for the Norfolk Tides, they have a full-service restaurant inside Harbor Park. 

Located near the right field seating section, there is a connected building that has over a dozen windows. That building is a waiter-style restaurant called Hits at the Park, which has over 200 seats available to all ticket holders. Not only can guests get a view of the baseball game from the right field eatery, but they can also get a glimpse of the Elizabet River. Anyway, Hits at the Park usually offers traditional ballpark fare like chicken wings and cheeseburgers. The restaurant is a unique experience in the Minor Leagues because not many Triple-A teams have a full-service restaurant at their stadiums. 

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