Tired of talk. Win!
Join Date: Jan 2005
I wish I'd have checked in here before heading out. The wife and I would have loved a redszone group outing at the Hall.
We spent the weekend on a baseball trip. Friday we went to Fenway park for the very first time. I love old buildings, but sometimes they get a reputation for being 'cool' but when you get there they are a big disappointment. Fenway was just....something, it was cool, it was amazing, it was what you expect it to be when you romantacize something as a kid. You could feel history as you walked around the bowels of the stadium. The electricity out on Yawkey way even was just surreal.
Perhaps tis being accustomed to the midwest, most of my games have been in staid ol' Cincinnati. I love the town, I love my Reds, but it takes a lot to generate excitement there. In Boston I shared a table with a couple older guys and we just talked baseball as we downed some Fenway Franks. It was refreshing and fun and we loved every minute of it.
This place was just fantastic. From rind to core, from stem to stern, there was nothing I didnt like about Fenway, aside from the small seat.
Saturday we spent most of the day in Boston. We did the touristy things, visiting Harvard Square, we had a beer at Cheers, we went to see the USS Constitution. All fantastic things and lots of fun, but not really baseball related. Boston is a seemingly lovely town even though we blew through in about 30 hours, I'd love to go back and spend more time there.
Saturday we drove over to Albany, NY and stayed at the luxurious Days Inn by the airport. Such a lovely place. I highly recomment that. Ok, that was sarcasm, it was a hole, but oh well. We really got to Albany just to sleep after the day in Boston.
As much as I loved Boston, I wish I'd have gone on to Cooperstown, it was....surreal.
You grow up loving baseball all your life. Its instilled in you like religion when you are a kid. You love a team, the Reds for most all of us, you love players. For me as a kid it was a handful of players. Barry Larkin, Eric Davis, Dave Parker [more on him in a minute], Jose Rijo, the list goes on. Some of those late 80's early 90's teams were right in my baseball wheelhouse, but getting to Cooperstown...indescribable almost. It puts into perspective the magnitude of the game, the players, its just awe inspiring.
I walked down that street and met players like Denny McClain, marred by his own greed yet his place in history is known by most all who love the game. I walked into a card shop and saw our own Peter Edward Rose, disgraced just the same [and worse] as Denny. He sat there, like we've all seen him a dozen times on TV, looking grumpy, signing whatever was shoved in front of him for 60$. Further down was Lou, Eric, Dave....all guys from that era of my youth. I wasn't paying for autographs, but it was something for a kid like me who never went to a big league game until I was an adult to see those guys I once revered. The list went on, Tony Perez, Andre Dawson, etc.
In the Hall itself I met Bob Castellini up on the 3rd floor. I'm usually of the opinion that no one wants to talk to me, so I'm not outgoing for the most part. If the other person engages, I'll talk your ear off, but I'm not much of a conversation starter. Bob was about to go on some sort of tour so a quick exchange of pleasantries was about all that transpired, but he was a very cordial man.
The Hall itself, you just can't begin to describe it. If you love the history of the game, you have to go, thats all there is to it.
Barry's moment in the sun was just such a joy for me. It's really down to he and Eric as my favorite player as a kid, but getting to go see Barry in the hall was just a near religious experience. It had to be done.
Most of you watched the speech, there's no need for me to recap it, but it was a special one for me.
This strange and interesting weekend didn't end there for me though.
After the ceremony we raced back to the Albany airport to catch a flight home. We went through all the usual rigamaroll and got into the concourse area. We had lunch at McDonalds and went to our gate. After a short time the wife decided we should go look at the shops, find something to read, anything but just sitting there, so I agreed. We started back up towards the hub of the airport and pass a security guard who smiles and says 'Hey did you see Dave Parker was up there?' [we were naturally in Reds gear].
Well when I was a kid I chewed my gum like Dave Parker. [It's good to not have to explain that since most of you know how oddly he chewed his gum]. I also tried to emulate his batting style when I'd hit lefty. So I wanted to say hello and get an autograph. I'm not usually an autograph hound, my wife does that moreso than me.
So I get the ball I bought at the HoF and a sharpie out of my backpack and walk towards him, these items tucked away so he did'nt see that right away.
I ask politely if he'd be willing to sign one for me. His response reminded me of why we shouldn't idolize these guys.
'Man, I been doing that all weekend'. With that he took out his phone and made a call.
His wife however began to talk to me. Asking how I liked the hall of fame, the ceremony, where we were from, how our drive over was. Just nice pleasant talk. I stood and talked to her for several minutes while Cobra was on the phone. After that I thanked her and apologized for bothering them and walked away.
They went to the McDonalds we'd eaten at just a short time before and I sighed a bit, dejected, but not thinking too much of it. After a while we returned to our gate and awaited our flight. Well some twenty minutes later down the way comes Dave again. He and his wife take a seat a gate next to ours. She smiled and nodded as she saw us and I did the same. After a while I went to the restroom and when I came back we sat in different seats due to other folks arriving and Dave was in my peripheral view at this point. I see him raise his arms and kind of wave out of the corner of my eye and I turn and look. He motioned me over, I had to do a double take and ask if he meant me, to which he smiled and nodded.
So I walked over and sat down and he says 'Sorry about that man. What you got to sign?' I showed him the ball but indicated my sharpie was now in my wifes purse in the restroom. He started digging around in his bag to find something, but my wife returned soon and produced her Reds themed sharpie.
Again his wife and I conversed, she talking about just them getting to eat and all, and I could tell I'd just caught him at a bad time earlier, but he was happy to sign for me a ball that I now display in my reds billiards room.
Is it the most amazing thing ever? No of course not. But it was a very nice capper to a baseball pilgrimage. I got to sit with a fromer Red and his wife and just talk about nothing at all in an airport for a few minutes on the weekend one of my all time favorites was put into the pantheon of great players. What's more, he invited me to do so. I'd accepted the simple rejection earlier and wouldn't have thought another thing of it, yet he took that time to correct the earlier slight and remind me that these guys are human like the rest of us and they can be nice just like the rest of us.
A wonderful weekend full of great Reds memories and baseball firsts for me. All told a fantastic time.
Championships for MY teams in my lifetime:
Cincinnati Reds - 75, 76, 90
Chicago Blackhawks - 10, 13
University of Kentucky - 78, 96, 98, 12
Cincinnati Bengals - None
Chicago Bulls - 91, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98