A Swannanoa Valley sports bucket list for summer

Jonathan Bennett
Special to The Black Mountain News

As July approaches we're beginning to hit our summer stride here in the Valley. A few weeks ago I challenged you to get out, be active and enjoy getting in shape this summer. This week I want to send a few summer sport bucket list ideas your way.

It will be a little challenging to knock out all these this summer, but oh, what summer of sport it would be if you could.

See a game at the Little League World Series in Williamsport

I can remember as a youngster tuning into ABC to watch kids my age playing baseball. Nestled away in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Little League World Series is a jewel for even the most casual baseball fan.

The storylines are always compelling. Last year, Monet Davis stole the heart and interest of the country as she pitched her way to stardom, striking out one boy after the next. It's a place where true sport unfolds. No big contracts, no prima donna athletes, just kids playing the game.

You better pack a lunch for this trip - it's a nine-hour drive from Black Mountain. But the series doesn't start till the end of August, so you've got time to make your travel plans.

Sing "Sweet Caroline" in the crowd at Fenway Park

I wouldn't usually consider myself a big Neil Diamond fan. But when it comes to "Sweet Caroline," I can make an exception.

Back in the late '90s, the Red Sox started playing the song before the bottom of the eighth inning, and now there are generations of Red Sox fans that can sing along together. What I'm most excited about this summer is that I'm going to actually check this off my bucket list. My son and I are flying up to Boston, staying a few blocks from Fenway and sitting right next to the Green Monster.

I can assure you that come the eighth inning we'll be taking in a little Neil Diamond while chomping on some peanuts at Fenway. To make this trip, you'll probably need to head down to Charlotte and hop on plane. It's a haul from Black Mountain to Boston.

Head to Coney Island to see the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

This might be the most disgusting bucket list suggestion I can think of. Every July 4 at noon, I tune into ESPN to see men and women stuff their face full of hot dogs for 10 minutes straight. I'm addicted. I can't turn away.

Evidently there is a science to it. To eat as many hot dogs as you can in the allotted time, you have to separate the dog from the bun then snap the dog in half and consume both halves at the same time. Then you have to dump the bun in a cup of water and suck it down your gullet in one fell swoop.

Trust , you won't be able to turn away either. The record for hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes is a nauseating 69. Better get those frequent flyer miles revved up for this trip too.

Helmis Rodriguez, of the Asheville Tourists, and starting pitcher for the Southern Division team winds up for a pitch during the first inning of the South Atlantic League All-Star Game at McCormick Field on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

Take in a Tourists game at Asheville's McCormick Field

OK, so for those of you opposed to making nine-hour drives or flying to the Northeast, here's another option. Just a hop, skip and jump from the Valley is a hot bed of minor league baseball. The Tourists have been playing in Asheville since the end of the 19th century, and McCormick Field opened its gates way back in 1924.

If you're looking for a few dates to target this summer, I'd suggest a fireworks night on July 3 or July 24. For you world travelers, McCormick Field is just 15 minutes from Black Mountain.

Jonathan Bennett