Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Say Hey

By mutual agreement, this is the last time I can tell this story.

Seven years ago, on the first Pie in the Sky tour, Michelle and I were heading east from Niagara Falls across upstate New York toward Boston. I took a break from driving (this was back in the day when I was allowed behind the wheel) and put the chair back for a little nap while Michelle drove.

One thing, I requested: When we get to the Cooperstown exit wake me up and get off the freeway. I've always wanted to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. OK, she said. But when I woke up, half an hour later or so, I realized we were past Cooperstown already. Crazy bitch had blown off the Hall of Fame! She had some lame excuse about it being too late in the day, but we've been arguing about that ever since. Fact is, she drove by the exit.

Fast forward to Pie in the Sky II. Michelle's doing all the driving, but Cooperstown has become our jokey can't-miss destination. I vowed to snort lines of coke off the dashboard to stay awake if necessary.

Today, after six weeks of dawdling through 25 states and the District of Columbia, after losing countless poker chips to uncounted suckout artists across America, after downing clam chowdah on Cape Cod and steamer clams on the Jersey Shore, spending one terrific afternoon at the best hospital in Maine (just ask 'em) and another at the formerly peaceful Walden Pond, we set the Garmin for Cooperstown and waited to "acquire satellites."

The Garmin has its own sense-of-humor way of getting there, but that's another story. It was a pretty drive anyway.

Seventy-eight miles from our morning departure point of Albany, N.Y., but somehow three hours away, the Hall of Fame finally appeared. ("Arriving at destination!" chirped the Garmin.) After lunch at the Doubleday Cafe (Abner Doubleday is erroneously credited with inventing baseball, as I would learn later), I took my two-hour tour. Michelle waited outside.

It was full of cool stuff for a lifelong baseball fan like me. I especially liked seeing how the gloves, bats and other equipment have changed over the years, and looking at the uniforms, balls and other mementos from signature games, like Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters. It was fun to see that pitcher Bob Gibson's glove, during his historic 1968 season, was a Spalding "Carl Yastrzemski Personal Model." And there were cool exhibits featuring my hero, Willie Mays, as well as many other greats. I thought of my brother-in-law Manuel when I got to the Tony Gwynn display, and of my friend Mike Stahlberg when I spied ol' Shoeless Joe Jackson.

No denying my nerdiness though. At one point I was bent over, reading some fine print in an exhibit featuring Ichiro Suzuki and the history of the Mariners, and I heard a camera flashing behind me. Doh! There I was, in my Ichiro replica jersey, craning to study the real Ichiro jersey. Somebody's showing that picture to relatives tonight and having a good laugh.

Still, I really enjoyed Cooperstown and felt lucky to be there on a quiet Tuesday afternoon before summer vacation. After school gets out, the Hall greeters told me, it'll be a zoo in there.

Baseball fans, it's worth a visit.


Jason Bellamy said...

Loved the post, except for the bit about snorting coke lines off the dashboard, which was so unexpected that I spit up my Starbucks (thankfully just on the keyboard, not my clothes, so no hard feelings). That's why I come to the blog.

I still haven't made it to Cooperstown, but I'll get there. I have, however, been to the NFL HOF in Canton, because the Packers played a preseason game there back when I worked for the club.

I'm sooo not an NFL nerd, so I was only mildly interested in the first place. That's why I nearly giggled when they gave all of us free lifetime passes. I mean, sure, I think it's kind of cool to have a lifetime pass to anything, and I hope I live until I'm 90 so I can go back there and present my card and have the staff there give me "WTF?" expressions while trying to figure out why my ticket isn't scanned into the bar code on my arm like all the other visitors (it'll be the future, you know).

The reality is, the NFL HOF is hard up for visitors. "I effing dare you to come back to Canton, Ohio!" the lifetime pass screams. Maybe someday. But I doubt it.

(On that note: If there are any NFL fans out there, the Packers HOF at Lambeau Field is far cooler than the collection at Canton...Packers focused though it is.)

LaSue said...

Great post. I hear your young boy ethusiasm in your words. Delighted! that you got to fulfill the dream. It really brought some light to my day after receiving an email from an old New York colleague that someone we worked with back in Nursing Education died of a heart attack this week. She was younger than me. Wow that's a shocker. Makes one want to live each day to the fullest. It sounds like that is just what you two are doing. Roll on, my happy adventurers. 23 states to go. Are you going to do the entire continental U.S.?

Rita said...

This will be one of your 'big time' memories, for sure.

Ronelle said...

I am SOOOO jealous.

I wonder if there is a Wii Hall of Fame for Baseball. If so, Michelle will be inducted for her "OUT OF THE PARK" slam.

Your snorting coke line was very appropriate since I think there are some guys in that Hall of Fame that may have snorted the baseline a few time....I won't mention names.

mich said...

Manuel and I just have to make this trip some day. Thanks for the Padre nod -- I'll make sure he sees that.

It's getting tough to be a baseball fan in this stupid town, though. The Ms keep getting uglier. You picked a good season to leave town!