Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Glory Days

This past weekend, we took a road trip with some friends and headed to Cooperstown. Our destination being one of those places that needs no introduction, the name of the town will usually suffice. Cooperstown, our link to tradition, days of old and the memories of our own youth...The Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Hall
I wasn't sure if our boys are to young to even begin to appreciate the HOF however, it was worth the trip regardless. I hadn't been to the HOF in about 18 years and, happily, not much had changed. Our journey through the HOF began with a short multi media presentation and, if out time had ended after the presentation, I would have walked away happy. The "movie", while only 13 minutes, brought me back to my youth. The days of summer when you would leave the house at the crack of dawn with only the need to be within earshot for the dinner call. For me, these were days spent roaming the woods near my house and building forts with the neighborhood kids. We even had a sizable expanse of land where we did battle with the vegetation all summer in the hopes of crafting a ball field. This short movie really struck a chord and left me thinking about how much our times have changed. I understand that progress, in general, is good and that we must keep moving forward, I am one who longs for the past. Simpler times before computers and email, IPhones and GPS, video games and DVD players in cars. For God sakes kids...look out the car windows during a long ride, play punch buggy or count signs. By and large, I think kids today are at such a disadvantage when it comes to being kids. 

The movie, having ended, allowed us to begin our walk through some of the most amazing artifacts of baseball history. One of the first baseballs, Hank Aaron's uniform from his historic season, balls gloves and hats from Don Larsen's Perfect Game.

the original IRON MAN
Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Johnson, Mathewson
before my time, but always a favorite
Ok, can you tell I am a Yankees fan? Growing up south of Hartford, it was natural that you followed the Bombers. North of Hartford and you were a Red Sox fan. The tough part is, as a kid, you don't expect to find yourself living in the heart of Red Sox Nation during your adult years.

The Baseball HOF, in my opinion, is the best and most storied of the major sports HOF's. There is a simplicity to the building that houses our past and you can feel the un-bridaled youth that percolates from every corner of the town. Cooperstown feels like a place where it's ok to be a kid again.

making chalk lines with stones
Saturday was spent wandering through Cooperstown and on Sunday, we started the ride home with the thought of stopping at Howe's Caverns. Discovered 20 years before the Civil War, Howes Caverns is a network of underground caves, rooms and rivers. It wasn't the history that brought us to Howe's rather, a giant hamster ball was the siren's song that pulled us off the highway.

who could resist
The hamster ball was discovered by our friends, the Murphy's, who were with us. This was just the sort of thing for 2 crazy Irish guys...sober no less. Now, bear in mind that these hamster balls were on the website and printed in the pamphlets placed at all the local hotels and businesses. We get there, ask some young teenager which way to the hamster balls, which was phrased in a more comical manner, and, much to our dismay, the hamster balls are still not ready. Apparently, it's been 2 years and they still are not ready. WTF, a bit misleading and at best, false advertising however, we decide to make the best of it and look around. In back of the facility was a cool ropes course that I figured I could do with my boys. There were 2 levels, approximately 20 to 40 feet off the ground. I paid the price of admission - we'll get back to that later - and we were off. I figured my 8 yr old might have a little issue with this as he is not into heights at this time. He was a trooper and made it through 2 obstacles before turning back. My little guy was a mad man. He willed himself through this course and overcame his concerns for the height...I could not have been any more proud of him than I was that day.

not as easy as it might appear
lending a hand
Having finished the ropes course, we decided to get some lunch before hitting the road and this leads me back to the price of admission so to speak. Now I don't mind paying a FAIR price for things however, pardon me for being crass, if I am going to get screwed, I would like some foreplay first. The climbing wall was the only thing that was reasonable. Lunch consisting of chicken nuggets, fries, a couple panini's and drinks - $56.00 - come on...not like a received a complimentary tube of KY with the check.

All in all, a great weekend and a brief trip back to days of my youth that seem so long ago. I am also a big fan of the movie and former television series M*A*S*H and this trip made me think of a line from the show...every so often, a psychiatrist, Dr. Sidney Freedman, would make an appearance and in one episode, when life was particularly stressful at the hospital, Dr. Freedman implored the camp to " pull down your pants and slide on the ice " and this is my parting request to you...do the same and have some fun this summer.


  1. The Hall is a great place to visit.
    I first did it a few years ago.
    The plaque area was awesome, and the items, some of which I have fine memories of. But what I liked most was walking into Doubleday Field.

  2. it sure is Alan...amazing, some of the artifacts. I think you are fortunate to have known baseball when it was really a game and perhaps less of a business.

  3. Never been to the HOF, but if I ever get back there you can bet it will be a priority. Baseball was a staple in my youth. There was always a game on the TV (my dad spent a lot of time "resting his eyes" during the games), but other than Little League, we were never in the house long enough to watch. I watch the Yankees every time they are on, but I have to lean toward the Giants. They are the local favorite.


    1. Thanks Mark - it's really worth the trip.

  4. I've never been to the hall but will have to get out there soon. But not before I've lid on the ice. Next week!

  5. enjoy your trip Steve! Thanks.