Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pilgrimage to Cooperstown

It is the dream of every baseball fan to make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York, the birthplace of baseball and home to its Hall Of Fame. Greg (a Mets fan) and I (a Red Sox fan) decided to fulfill that dream for ourselves today.

Baseball has been a part of my life since I can remember. My dad was a huge fan, and some of my fondest memories are of us watching baseball games called by players-turned-TV-commentators Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese. My grandfather was a fan, too; heck, he had a cat named Stan, after Stan "The Man" Musial. My brother evidently took after him, as he named our pet chow mix Roger Maris, just a couple of years after Maris beat Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. My mom got into the act, too, with an amazing trading card collection (that was unfortunately lost to us after my grandmother sold her home, leaving all of the contents of the attic to the new owner).

Young ladies did not play baseball when I was growing up. At least not formally! Thus, the DeSoto County (Arcadia, Florida) Little League was deprived of what would have been one of its most consistent hitters, in my best friend Nancy York, and one of its hardest throwers, in me. We contented ourselves with pick-up games in the vacant lot next to our house; Nancy routinely hit home runs and I was always called upon whenever one of the neighborhood boys needed to break in a new glove. In later years, after we both began teaching school, Nancy and I would catch as many "Grapefruit League" (Florida's spring training) games as we possibly could, sometimes even taking sick leave to do so! (I guess it's safe to reveal that now, since we're both retired!) Nancy's a Red Sox fan, too, so most of our trips were made to parks where the Sox were playing. I can even still recite the starting lineup for the 1979 team! Disappointed by the Sox's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1967 World Series, disbelieving of the loss to the Cincinnati Reds in the '75 World Series, devastated by Bill Buckner's error that helped the New York Mets turn it around and beat the Sox in the '86 World Series ... I cried tears of joy when the Red Sox finally won the 2004 World Series over the Cardinals. I only wish my all-time favorite player, Carl Yastrzemski, could have been a player on that 2004 roster. Below is an exhibit that pays tribute to "Yaz" and the 1967 team. Hey, Carl, I finally made it, even if it is 18 years late ...

There's more to Cooperstown than just baseball, Greg and I discovered. There's also the Glimmerglass Opera that must be awesome, because it certainly has an impressive facility; The Farmers' Museum, with its carefully preserved buildings and demonstrations of farm life; The Fenimore Art Museum -- hey, I didn't realize that James Fenimore Cooper had ties to this area! I've never read any of his books, but now I'm inspired to do so. I'm sure we'll pay another visit here one of these years, because the area has a yesteryear charm that is disappearing from the American landscape. And Maggie Muggins seems to really love it here -- the Amish fellow who works at the KOA drives to work every day in his horse-drawn carriage, and Maggie is absolutely fascinated with that horse! 

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