Close shave at the ballpark: Bulls offer haircuts in the owners box

A hidden gem of the DBAP is the fully-licensed and operational barber shop in the owners suite

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack.Take a little off the ear, and taper the back.It’s easy for fans at the DBAP to miss. Seeing it would require them turning away from the field and looking at the top of the seating bowl. But it’s there, looking so out of place that, once seen, it’s impossible to imagine having missed it for all this time.On the first-base side of the stadium, hanging from the wall, between the radio/PA booths and the first luxury box, is a red and white striped barber’s pole.”When Mr. Goodmon was a boy,” Danielle Broughton explains, “every Saturday, his grandfather would take him to the barber shop.”Years later, when Jim Goodmon became owner of the Durham Bulls — and namesake of Goodmon Field, the playing surface at the DBAP — he decided to bring along a piece of his childhood.”It was a social thing,” Broughton says. “He wanted to create a place where guys could get together.”Behind the wall where the barber pole hangs is the owner’s suite, where Goodmon and his guests can watch his team play. And, should anyone need a trim or a shave, there’s a licensed barber that works every Bulls home game.”There are three of us,” Broughton says. “We each take turns working games.”Broughton, who worked for 30 years at a mall hair salon before hanging up the scissors at her day job, has worked in Goodmon’s suite for the last decade. She used to be the only barber on staff, until she decided a few years ago that she needed to lighten her schedule. “That’s a lot,” she said, “working every game.”The chair doesn’t make the job any easier. It’s an old-fashioned model, similar to the ones of the owner’s youth. That means it doesn’t adjust up or down easily, leaving Broughton scrambling to find the proper angle.”I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” she says, while kicking a plastic step stool in front of her as she walks around the customer.The corner of the suite dedicated to hair care is an inspected and approved barber shop, with paperwork from the North Carolina Board of Barber Examiners displayed on the wall, along with the establishment’s sanitation grade (a 100 percent).It’s decorated with photos and memorabilia, but it’s not baseball-related. No photos of former Giants pitcher Sal “The Barber” Maglie or even Hall of Famer Joe “The Yankee Clipper” DiMaggio. Instead, the antique signs and pictures are from barber shops of yore. Customers in the chair will have to settle for getting their baseball fix from the spot in one of the best seats in the house, with the field on display in front of them through the suite’s large picture windows.During the game, haircuts are limited to owner’s box guests, but frequently, walk-ins will show up at the chair during pregame. Over the years, Broughton has cut the hair of several Bulls players, who will pop into the owner’s box between batting practice and first pitch. Legendary manager Bill Evers, one of just five Bulls to have his number retired, was a regular. Now the minor league field coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays, Evers was in Durham last month and made sure to stop by Broughton’s chair to get the usual.It’s a service that few people would expect to see offered at a minor league ballpark. As a result, business is fairly sporadic.”Some nights are busier than others,” Broughton says. “I think I did three last night.”It’s no surprise that Mr. Goodmon is also a regular. “A lot of times, he’ll just want a quick neck trim,” she says. “He hates having hair on his neck.”There’s no price list posted or payment demanded, although the standard reimbursement appears to be about $10. “That’s what I’ve always paid,” says longtime Bulls employee Ken Tanner, who makes the trip over from the press box several times a season.The barbers tend to start work about an hour before game time. Most nights, the owner’s suite is empty at that time, but, in addition to allowing other members of the Bulls community to get a pregame haircut, it ensures that they’ll be ready to go when the suite’s tenants arrive.”I usually stay until about the third or fourth inning,” Broughton says. “The way I see it, this is their space. It’s their party. I’m just here in case anyone wants my services. Once they’ve had the opportunity, then I should leave them to their evening.”A few hours later, at the end of their evening, many of the guests will head home, looking fresh and clean.”It’s kind of fun,” Broughton tells one customer as she finishes the trim. “When you go home, people will look at you and ask, ‘Did you get your hair cut?’ And you can say, ‘What are you talking about? I was at the ballpark!'”