Monday, April 13, 2009


How to make Fayetteville Fun

Fayetteville, NC is not the most exciting place to live. When I tell people I am going to Fayetteville, most of them ask "Why?" with a rather worried/confused look on their face. Since I have family in NC and lived in GA for 30 years, trips thru fayetteville were expected 3 or 4 times a year. Once they got hockey in Fayetteville, I would drive there for games 2 or 3 times a year. on a few occasions I had the "opportunity" to stay a couple of days to see several games. This allowed me to explore Fayetteville and see what they had.
I'll be the first to admit that on the surface, Fayetteville rightly deserves the nickname "Fayettenam." The military presence from Ft. Bragg and Pop Air Force Base is overwhelming. The city, in places, also appears to have been thru a war. But if you know where to look and keep an open mind, there's good stuff there. If you know where to look.
I had driven past this sign for years and never thought much of it. We had a Baldinos in Macon. Little did I know, though, how important this discovery would be.
I can't tell you how many times I have enoyed a Baldinos sandwich either as a picnic on Coleman Hill overlook downtown Macon, or when the weather (or pan handlers) were bad, a carpet picnic with my big sis, Becky. I think Baldino's was a right of passage for Mercer Students. You cannot imagine my shock when Baldino's closed in Macon around 1998. I had always known it was a chain, but never knew where another one was. We didn't have anything close to today's internet back then. I couldn't go to and looked up other locations. Even if I had, I wouldn't have found the fayetteville locations very easily. While they are technically the same chain, the Fayetteville locations are at One of those many wonderful twists of fate that makes up my life.
This past weekend, I knew I would be in Fayetteville for 3 days for 3 hockey games. The week prior to leaving I could feel that Baldino's craving starting to grow.
I spend a long time looking over their menu. It was then that I discovered something. The menus are different!
In particular, on the Georgia menu you will find "The Big Ones" including the "American Army" sandwich. The Fayetteville menu doesn't mention them.
This is especially shocking given the huge military presence of Fayetteville and relative lack of it in Macon. My problem is that my "regular" was the American Army (hold the tomato, add mustard). My prior planning though, payed off, as I remember "The Big ones" were simply "double everything" of a smaller sandwich.
I placed my order and I pulled up a chair.

The American Army
It looked wonderful, just like I remembered. Onions and lettuce literally hanging out of the sides with vinegar and oil dripping off onto the simple paper wrapper. This was going to be good. But I needed it to be great.
Baldinos is where I first discovered the beauty of putting chips on a sandwich. It gives it extra crunch and adds a little something extra you just can't get any other way. Normally I prefer Cool Ranch Doritos, but Baldinos only had regular. Good enough, I say!
There it is! Crispy and crunchy while at the same time soft and satisfying, and with the double meat it was extremely filling. say what you want about Fayetteville, but it's hard to hate a town when you're stuffed with a delicious sandwich.
You may have noticed on the Fayetteville menu a few items related to the Bambino. That really has nothing to do with Baldino though. If it did then it would be on the Georgia menu, too. The reason it is on the fayetteville menu is that Fayetteville has a special connection with Babe Ruth.
Babe Ruth hit his first "professional" home run in Fayetteville and it is also rumored that Fayetteville is also where he got the nick name "Babe."
I attempted to locate the spot of the first home run, but that area (135 yards NW of the marker) is in an old train yard in Gilespie that now appears to be used for metal recycling. It is quite inaccessable.

View Larger Map
(The Marker is on Gillespie, but closest access to the location is around the block on Glidden)
Fayetteville was also where Jim Thorpe hit his first professional home run, which was the longest on record until Ruth outdistanced him by 60 feet.
And if you're like me and loved Field of Dreams then you won't ne surprised to hear that Archibal (Archie) "Moonlight" Graham is a real person, a true story, and he was from Fayetteville, NC.
Oh yes there's plenty to fayetteville, if you know where to look. I have only begun to scratch the surface, so stay tuned!
Krystal Lovers get more in the sack!.

Mmmmmm... Baldinos! There's one on Buford Hwy just outside I-285 that I'd frequent weekly when I worked up there. Yum!
What I would give for a Baldinos sandwich: just about anything right now...mmmm I miss Baldinos.

Brian Renko
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