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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: A new fan pitches the convention at Knights game and around town

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 10:34 AM

click to enlarge Charlotte-Knights-review-worst-baseball-team-ever1.jpg

This weekend, Steve Kerrigan is exchanging his Boston Red Sox cap for one labeled "Charlotte Knights." The newly minted fan is throwing out the first pitch at the team’s Saturday game against the Louisville Bats at Knight Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C. Kerrigan said, “It’s sort of a childhood dream of any young American,” especially if that child grows up to be the CEO of Charlotte's 2012 Democratic National Convention. It’s the result of a promise made by the team — “more tongue in cheek” — during the bid process that eventually brought the convention to Charlotte.

The 39-year-old Kerrigan may have been born in Lancaster (that’s Massachusetts, not South Carolina), but now he’s anxious to visit the Southern counterpart to his Northeastern hometown, as well as other spots in the region. He and more than 20 members of his team have settled in Charlotte 14 months before the convention “so that we can really get engaged and become a part of this community,” he said. “A lot of us on staff love baseball, we love minor league ball.” They’re also sort of fans of the White Sox — “it’s the president’s team” — and the Knights are the Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. So it all works out.

More staff will be moving this way in time for Kerrigan’s 40th birthday in September. He can show them some of the places he’s visited: the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, NoDa and the Levine Museum of the New South. He’d like to see a Panthers game, make a return visit to the Bobcats, and “get out and use the Whitewater Center.” (He once had a kayak.)

“We have so many great things to offer,” Kerrigan said, as an Uptown-residing “Charlottean.” For counsel, he has Joanne Peters, a Providence High grad who’s been working with the DNC in Washington but returned to work with him on her hometown’s big event.

This week, we sat at the Tic Toc Café — another Uptown spot Kerrigan was visiting for the first time — talking about the political implications of Charlotte’s hosting the convention, what his former boss the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and current boss President Barack Obama do and don’t have in common, and how his team hopes to give back through community service projects.

Stay tuned to my Creative Loafing coverage of DNC 2012 for the full report and to catch up on what you’ve missed so far.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcurtisnc3.

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