Monthly Archives: June 2010

Day 5. Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox!

Wednesday, 6/30/2010.   Arrived one of my favorite all time American cities, Boston, Massachusetts!  I skipped the scheduled tour of Fenway Park  in favor of a tour around town.   This started with the grand old Trolley Tour that took us to all the highlights of Boston and there are many!  30 Universitie and Colleges in Boston proper, and history of our founding fathers everywhere!   Boston Harbor and of course Fenway Park are always main attractions.  Fenway is a  grand old ballpark.  First thing I noticed was the big wood scoreboard over centerfield.  They still turn the scores by hand!   All the scores are kept current for other games throughout the day, and as the scores change, they reach out and manually put up the new numbers, in real time. as it happens.  Of course, they have  electronic scoreboards in other parts of the field, but my attention was focused on the old one.  Fascinating stuff in this age of super electronics.

The general consensus of the group is Red Sox fans are the best!   Well for sure they’re the friendliest.  Everywhere you go in Boston, not just at the ballpark, everyone wants to talk baseball.  Maybe it was just because it was a game day, I don’t know, but Bostononians love their Sox!   Even the Boston cops were approachable and friendly!   During the game they played “MTA” by the Kingston Trio which we all got a chuckle out of, having just arrived via the MTA.  We didn’t find it daunting at all, but very user friendly, especially compared to the New York subway system!  The game itself was somewhat of a disaster for the home fans, ending up 9 – 2 in favor of the Rays, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Red Sox fans.  The sellout crowd (it’s been a sellout for the past 380 games we were told!) was friendly and chattering as we all left the stadium, no sign of letdown in their spirits.   This was a great place for a ballgame!

Everywhere, including at the ballpark, you hear the touts of a special “lobster roll” which is a pile of lobster mixed with a little mayo and celery on a sandwich roll.   It was a disappointment,  but the most popular and best tasting was the Kielbasa on a bun.  Big, fat, juicy and we were told later by the locals, that’s what local Boston fans want to be known for!  And now we know!

Boston harbor was bustling to get ready for their annual 4th of July celebration, fireworks loaded on barges in the harbor, and a general feeling of festivities.  That’s one thing to put on my list of things to do, spend the 4th of July with the Boston Pops live and in person!  It’s a great feeling of community spirit here and you can stop and talk with anyone on the street or in the subways and it’s a generally friendly feeling.    And now once again it’s 2:00AM!  Whew!  These late nights are tough since our bus takes off  again at 8:00AM for destination Pittsburg!   Haven’t had time to read a paper or watch the evening news for 5 days now!  It’ll be nice to find out what’s going on in the world.   Or maybe not.   It’s been a nice reprieve that’s for sure!  We’ll talk again tomorrow from Pittsburg!

Day 4. Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees!

Tuesday.  6/29/2010.   Tour of Yankee Stadium, Subway trip to 42nd Street, Broadway and Roxy’s Delicatessen!  And of course Mariners vs Yankees game!    I’ll blog on all this later  ~ traffic delays just got us to the hotel and it’s now 2:15AM!  There’s lots to write about, but not enough time since we’re leaving 9AM for Boston.   But notice today’s box scores below.  Great game and some very happy Mariner Fans in our group, not to mention we were shown on ESPN News after a Mariner home run landed in the middle of us!   Next time we’ll be sure and bring a mitt along!

Day 3. Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY.

 Monday, June 28, 2010.     All aboard at 9:00AM for a 3 hour bus ride from Westpoint NY to Cooperstown, located

Upstate New York Countryside

in upstate New York.    Our tour group includes 4 Canadians, and 8 from the Pacific Northwest and California, and we all agreed if we didn’t know better, we hadn’t even left the West Coast!    Same beautiful  countryside and landscapes of fir trees, alders, blue spruce and foliage.   If you’ve ever been to the midwest or southern part of the U. S. you’d know how different it can be, but not so on the Western  and Eastern part of the U. S.  Only when you step outside the bus does that difference end!  Lucky for us it was overcast, and we were even blessed with a few sprinkles of rain!   So the weather was great after a few grueling days of heat and humidity.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown is a real treat for anyone who loves baseball.   When we arrived in town, Dan informed us we had 7 hours free time and I was concerned about what I was possibly going to do for 7 hours in a town that’s about 5 blocks long!    But not to worry.  The first time I looked at my watch, 4 hours had passed and I realized I’d better get in gear if I was going to be able to see all the things I wanted.  

National Baseball Hall of Fame

First item was a 20 minute movie presentation in the Hall of Fame Theater.   I loved it but it ended much too soon.   I was disappointed when it was over.  It had a lot of the same shots in my earlier blog of  Fogerty’s “Centerfield” plus some I’d never seen before.    Fogerty’s “Centerfield” is one of my alltime favorite baseball pieces and I was thrilled to find out he’s going to be honored for this and also performing it at this year’s HOF Induction Ceremonies in July.   Well deserved honor in my humble opinion. These baseball movies about days past and the history of baseball are always really emotional for me.  I don’t know why, can’t explain it.  But it set the tone for the rest of the tour.  Also throughout the day there were Little League Baseball Teams from throughout the country competing at the Doubleday Baseball Field next to the Museum.   It’s the same field that was used for filming most of the movie “A League of Their Own.”  Each team must post a $2,000 entrance fee to be able to compete.   These games continue throughout the summer and  it was great to see all the kids in uniform and organized groups throughout the day, having their team pictures taken on the steps of the HOF Museum.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum collections feature more than 38,000 three-dimensional items, three million books and documents and 500,000 photographs. The Museum tells visitors the story of baseball through its three-story timeline, with the majestic Plaque Gallery serving as a centerpiece.  The time flew by and before I knew it it was time to head back to the bus.   Unreal.   How can time go by so fast?   Also wanted to share this “day in history” ditty with you about Joe DiMaggio.  I’ll write again tomorrow from Yankee Stadium! 

This Day in Baseball History

On June 28, 1949, future Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio makes his season debut after missing the first 69 games of the season with an injured heel. Showing no signs of rust, DiMaggio swats a home run and a single in the New York Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox.   Similar to the Ted Williams ditty I posted a month ago, where do these guys come from?   Just thought it was interesting and wanted to share.   

Day 2. Minnesota Twins vs. New York Mets!

Sunday, 6/27/2010.    Got up early and trudged to the bus after a hurried continental breakfast this morning!   Our drive this morning took us to downtown New York City,  Queens to be exact, and to the beautiful Citifield Ballpark .  It was hot!  Don’t really know what the weather reports will read in the AM because hot is hot and no matter how I try to describe it, you won’t be able to feel the soaking wet shirts, swollen, puffy feet,  and wet hair and no place to escape from the heat.  Actually, it wasn’t even sunny most of the time, just a big overcast, but it doesn’t matter.  It’s that crazy humidity!   For those of you who’ve experienced this, no need to say anything, and for those of you who haven’t,  anything I say won’t be adequate.

But the game was great.  At least for the Mets fans!  Final score 6-0.  So for the first two games we’ve attended the home teams have won.  I want to comment on the Mets fans, and the Oriole fans too for

Mets & Twins Game

that matter, but especially the Mets.   They’re intense!   Part of the fun of being a baseball fan is people watching!   Watching the players, the coaches, the managers, ballpark staff and the fans.    Maybe it’s because this was a Sunday afternoon game, but I was touched by the number of families with young children.  And these kids were all decked out in caps, shirts, shoes and even some mitts, proudly showing their loyalty to their beloved Mets!   I think maybe the intensity is because they’ve lived in the shadow of the Yankees for so long

Best Mets Food? Nathan's Hotdogs!

and are always having to prove themselves worthy opponents.  But whatever reason, they’re sincere and they truly love their team.  It was fun to watch and I was caught up in the atmosphere of it all!

Probably the highlight of Day 2 for me was the group trip on the New York MTA Subway system to Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant, downtown Manhattan!   Loud, noisy, scary and adventuresome!    That’s how I’d describe my subway experience!  I can’t imagine daily commuting in this mannerand have a whole new respect for the average New Yorker who does.  Dan herded us like a bunch of cats and we finally got it, taking sometimes three tries to get thru the turnstiles.  Sounds simple enough but if you didn’t time it just right you had to go back, repurchase another ticket and start over again.   The system seems archaic in comparison to Boston and London’s, just my personal observation.

The food at Mickey Mantle’s was good.  Not great, but good, and you’d still have to give it at least a 3* rating  for the ambiance and great sports pictures and autographs that grace the entire facility.  Probably seats around 300 – but not nearly as full for a Sunday afternoon as I would have expected.  It was a real treat and I would have liked to spend at least a few hours just looking at all the pictures.    A lot of history and memories in this place!

It’s taken me longer than usual to write tonight.  I was caught up in the final innings of the Yankees/Dodgers game, which was Dodgers 6-2 when I turned it on and now find at the bottom of the 9th Mariano Rivera fanned 3 in a row and the score is tied 6-6 putting it into  overtime!    Yankees then go ahead and score 2 runs in the 10th and once again Rivera fanned 3 in a row to end the game with Yankees over Dodgers 8-6.    Fans were  loud and wild!   Don’t you just love baseball?  Down to the last pitch!   Sorry, I had to digress.  I’d written off the game as a Dodger win and I should have known better!      Tomorrow ……. Hall of Fame @ Cooperstown!

Day 1. Washington Nationals vs. Baltimore Orioles!

Saturday, 6/26/2010.  Whew!  We made it!   Took the red eye and arrived 8AM yesterday, played tourist in Baltimore until our room was ready and then crashed for a few hours. Then on the highest of recommendations from the hotel staff, we went to the local G & M Seafood House and  had Maryland crabcakes that probably weighed 1# each and were the best crabcakes, or actually the best restaurant dinner, I’ve had in years!  Thank you G & M Seafoods for a great night out in Baltimore! 

Everything’s so organized.   Got up early this morning and checked in with the rest of the group (50 total) in the

Baltimore Harbor

lobby, boarded our bus, picked out a seat we’d claim for the next 7 days and settled in for the first leg of a 7 day tour. 

Destination~ Camden Park to watch our first  game, Washington  vs. Baltimore .    We had some free time to run around Baltimore and chose to take the water taxi to Ft McHenry, where Frances Scott Keyes penned “The Star Spangled Banner.”    So much history here on the East Coast.   The Inner Harbor is great and so much to see and do.

There was a great surprise waiting for us when we arrived at the game.   This just so happened to be the day the Orioles were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1970 World Champion Baltimore Orioles Team!  Whatta treat!   The first clue something big was going on was arriving at the stadium and encountering a line of fans that encircled half of the stadium, all waiting for autographs from former Oriole players.   The entire 1970 team, or a representative if they weren’t available, was introduced to wild enthusiasm and applause.  The  first pitch was thrown out by none other than Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinsonson, live and in person!

The game?   We were so anxious to get out in the ballpark, we grabbed a hotdog and lemonade and found our seats about an hour early so we could watch all the fun stuff, which we did!   But the clouds swiftly moved away and we found ourselves baking in 98 D weather with what had to be 98% humidity!   Ugghhh……Slathered on more sunscreen and put on our true fan stripes and watched a great game.   Baltimore started out with a 5-0 deficit which is always hard to take for the locals.   (I consider myself a local when visiting a ballpark but never fail to cheer for a great play, no matter which team makes it, much to the consernation of some of the die-hards).   But not to worry.  The Orioles made an amazing comeback and ended winning the game with an amazing 6-5 score. 

The ballpark food was rather secondary today, because, honestly, after that amazing crabcake feast the night before food wasn’t our primary focus today.   (Refer to my May 25th blog for this great recipe!)   Okay so now it’s 12:30AM and we’ve been informed the bus pulls out at 8AM sharp ~   Destination Citifield Park, New York City!

Up, Up and Away ……..

We’re leaving for our baseball trip this afternoon, taking the red eye flight to Boston and then a short hop to Baltimore!  Trying to figure out my new  Ipod so I can take some videos and also listen to the games on the radio (Ipod radio, who knew?)  98 degrees and “humid” in Baltimore…..really excited about our trip, but will miss our beautiful Pacific ocean air!

If you haven’t been to San Jose International Airport this is a great week-end to visit!  Grand opening and guided tours all week-end.  Go online and reserve a spot for the tour!  The airport is a beauty and once

New SJC International Airport

we figure out how to maneuver our way around it’ll be fun!   We were safe since we took the shuttle service,  but if you’re going it alone, be sure and allow time.  

 This is our first experience with Jet Blue – they had the best non-stop schedule to Boston and the red eye was appealing since we could sleep (that’s the plan :)) and then have time to take a really quick trip on the subway/train to Washington DC. before checking into our hotel.    Okay, so that’s the plan.  I’ll let you know what “really” happens on the next blog!  See you in Baltimore!

Baseball Tour! * 7 Games in 7 days! * 7 Days to Go!

Woo Hoo!  Dragging out the luggage today getting ready for my baseball trip in exactly one week .   The plane actually leaves on Thursday night and we’ll arrive early, very early, in Boston Friday morning and take a transfer to Baltimore.   I’ve been fortunate to have  traveled to some really great places these past 10 years.   I’ve been on cruises to the Eastern & Western Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera and the Mediterranean.   Toured England, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain and Monaco.  But the God’s truth is my very favorite vacation was the baseball tour I took in 2004 with my grandson, Jake, who was 13 at the time.   I knew back then I wanted to take this trip again.   So here it is, 6 years later, and this is the same tour I took in 2004.    There’s  lots of  baseball tours out there but  I’d recommend Dan Lindsey’s Diamond Baseball Tours to anyone.  They’re great!   Also, they have different tours and my goal is to take them all!   But this time I’m taking the same tour so I can share the experience with my spouse, sister and brother-in-law who are joining me .    Here’s the schedule and I’ll share experiences daily as they happen.  At least thats the plan……

  • Saturday June 26  Washington @ Baltimore
  • Sunday June 27 Minnesota @ New York Mets
  • Monday June 28  Baseball Hall of Fame @ Cooperstown
  • Tuesday June 29 Seattle @ New York Yankees
  • Wednesday June 30 Tampa @ Boston
  • Thursday July 1 Philadelphia @ Pittsburg
  • Friday July 2 Cincinnati @ Chicago Cubs 

 So this week I’m cleaning the house so the babysitter won’t think I’m a slob (baby is a  Pomeranian),  buying last minute necessities like coffee filters, espresso,  miniature bottles of everything (minimize problems with TSA),  batteries for camera, laptop (whew. major investment!) suncreen and items to be determined.   We’ll talk again in a few days!   This is gonna be fun…….I wish you could all go with me!   No, really!!   

Buster at the bat ….. (Inspired by Casey?)

 I watched the  Giants game today in San Francisco and for some reason that crazy poem “Casey at the Bat” has been going through my head ever since.   I’d been looking forward to seeing Buster Posey play and  had high hopes for an afternoon of home runs, doubles, etc.   However, his MLB average dropped to under .400 for the first time today and even though he wasn’t very productive, he still looked great and it was just a really good experience witnessing this rising new phenom.   I just had to dive in and read this delightful poem again and actually recite it aloud ( I used to know it by heart…..) maybe inspired in my head by Buster, or at least by the thought of Buster, even though he didn’t actually strike out today.   So here it is for those who don’t mind a dose of nostalgia.

CASEY AT THE BAT by Ernest Lawrence Thayer ©

Published: The Examiner (06-03-1888)
The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out

The Umpire…….toughest job in baseball!

“I couldn’t see well enough to play when I was a boy, so they gave me a special job – they made me an umpire.”  President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.

As a player I probably would have said the toughest position in baseball is catcher.  I wasn’t particularly afraid of the ball, but when you’ve been beaned a couple times and missed a ball that was impossible to catch anyhow and the other team scores, you realize even when things are going right, they can still go really, really wrong.    But looking at this as a spectator the toughest job has to be, without a doubt, the lowly umpire.   My first exposure to this was at age 10 watching my dad at at my brother’s games giving the ump the going-over, beer in hand, standing up yelling obscenities and setting a stellar example for a couple of kids learning by example.  Totally mortifying!   So years later when I became the parent in the stands cheering my heart out in support of my little darlings at T-Ball I was very cognizant of these memories.   Imagine my shock and humiliation when I was thrown out of a T-Ball  game for, you guessed it, yelling at the umpire!  The embarrassment is still with me.

So all of these memories came flooding back as I watched last night’s replay of the Cleveland/Detroit infamous tag at first.  The missed call denied the young pitcher the rarest of rare “perfect game”.   This mornings sports headlines would have been all about Ken Griffey Jr’s retirement had this incident not occurred.  Well maybe not.  A perfect game for sure demands a certain amount of headlines.  But no matter.   History has been made and it won’t be changed.   I feel for the Tiger fans.  And I hope the Commissioner’s going to step in and make things right.  And he should.  It’s the right thing to do.   But please, please don’t bring in the instant replay.   For crying out loud this is baseball!    What really strikes me about this scenario is the candid manner in which the umpire immediately spoke up about the matter on seeing the replay.  But then, what else could he have done?    (Now’s the time we probably should give this guy a name.  He has, after all been a major league umpire for 22 years without any, well, almost any, controversy).

But I don’t want to talk about the umpire, or the kid who threw the unrealized perfect game. or instant replay.   This story’s about the DETROIT TIGER FANS.  What would  baseball, or any sport for that matter, be without the fans?    Today when the same players, same umpire(s) and the same fans sat for another round of Cleveland/Detroit baseball,  the umpire Jim Joyce was introduced among a smattering of boos, it’s expected, always happens, not a surprise.  But what was a surprise was the standing ovation and cheers that went up for this guy.  I’m emotional just writing about it.  And so was he.  He had to wear sunglasses to hide the tears for a press conference later.   I’ll bet Jim Joyce didn’t get two hours sleep last night.  As much as we love to razz the umps, they have the reputation of being the most honest trustworthy bunch of guys (a little nearsighted at times) but never ever do we believe they make a bad call “on purpose”.  And for all those split second “how did they do it?” johnny-on-the spot calls, they get no special recognition.  It’s their job and they love it and they do it better than anyone.    Detroit Tiger fans know this.   They know the umpire has the toughest job in baseball so they cut him a little slack and on they go to the next game.    That’s what’s so great about baseball.   The Detroit Tiger fans.  A real Class Act…….representing the best of baseball.

….The toughest call an Umpire has to make…. It’s having to throw a guy out of the game after you blew the hell out of the play.”  American League Umpire Bill Kinnamon.