Down East's Historic Grainger Stadium is the Carolina League's second oldest ballpark, having opened in 1949. The stadium has been renovated and refurbished several times over the years, most recently before the start of the 2003 season. Grainger Stadium has a seating capacity of 4,100 and measures 335 feet down the left and right field lines, and 390 feet to straightaway center field.
Dimensions: LF - 335 | CF - 395 | RF - 335
The Wall: The staggered wall starts at 12'6" tall at the left field foul pole. It lowers in unequal fragments from left to right, shortening to 8' feet tall at the right field foul polePlaying suface: Bermuda grass
Kinston has been a home for some variety of professional baseball as early as 1908, when a Kinston team was organized for one year in the Eastern Carolina League without a nickname. Then in 1920, the independent Kinston Robins and Kinston Highwaymen joined the Eastern Carolina Baseball Association. The league only lasted three seasons and the Kinston Eagles found a new home in the Virginia League. The "B" league of MiLB featured the Eagles from 1925-1927 with no MLB affiliation nor a title.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the Kinston Eagles found a new league to join again - the Coastal Plains League. The Eagles played from 1934-1952 (with a break from 1942-1945 for WWII) with two league titles. In the spring of 1939, Connie Mack brought his Philadelphia Athletics to play an exhibition with the Eagles. 10 years later, in a more peaceful and economic time, Grainger Stadium was built.
Originally constructed in 1949 by the City of Kinston, Grainger Stadium has a dedicated plaque as "Municipal Stadium." However it was quickly referred to as Grainger Stadium as part of the land that had previously donated to hold West End Park (1921-1929) and Grainger Park (1934-1948) by Jesse Willis Grainger - a prominent farmer in Eastern North Carolina.
After a four-year absence of baseball in Kinston, the Eagles joined the Carolina League in 1956 as a Pittsburgh affiliate. Then in 1957, they merged with the Wilson Tobs (short for "Tobacconists," sounds like "bobs") for one year before the franchise folded. The Eagles returned in 1962 with the same Pittsburgh affiliation and won their first and only Carolina League title as the Eagles.
The Montreal Expos acquired the Eagles in 1974 while attempting an experiment with two High-A affiliates (the other in West Palm Beach, Florida). However the Kinston Expos were left with outcasts and finished with the worst record in Kinston baseball history (38-93 .290) and drew less than 27,000 fans. The team folded and didn't return until 1978 without an affiliate again. However it began a stretch until 2011 with a team in Kinston every season -- highlighted by the Kinston Indians run for 25 seasons.