Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cooperstown 2018

The only good thing about being SO LATE with updating my blog with my 2018 trip recaps is that I get to reminisce while going through all the photos. So many fun memories- I love it.

So, last July some friends and I went to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame for Induction Weekend. Cooperstown had been on my bucket list since I was a kid so I was BEYOND excited to go. I lucked out that not only did I get to go during Induction Weekend (probably the best weekend of the year there), BUT I got to go when Chipper Jones was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is my second favorite Atlanta Braves player. If it wasn't for Steve Avery (who stole my heart first), y'all would know me as Chipperfan. Lol.

I made the trip with my friends John, Corina, Rodger, and Irene. They were amazing travel buddies, we had such a good time. I wasn't sure I would be able to go on the trip until a few months before we left, so by the time I purchased my plane ticket, there were no seats available near them. Part of my 40 Through 40 list was to fly first class at least once, so I splurged and bought a first class ticket (pinkies out). This proved to be a big mistake because now I'm a plane snob and want to fly first class all the time. Lol. 

They gave me a Dr Pepper before we even took off
We flew into New York City and rented a car to make the drive to Cooperstown (which is about three hours from the NYC). We flew in on a Thursday and arrived in Cooperstown about 5pm. The Hall of Fame had extended hours for the Induction weekend, so the museum was still open when we arrived. Everyone else had been before, so they decided to hit up some shops while I went to the museum. I lucked out because it wasn't that crowded, so I got some great photos of the exhibits without a ton of people in the background.

Fun story. When I got to the front door an older gentleman was walking up the ramp with a walker. I decided to wait and hold the door for him. He thanked me as he walked in and I thought to myself, that man looked a lot like Rod Carew. I decided I would check out the gift shop before touring the museum and as I walked over to it, I noticed the older gentleman sitting on a bench with a small crowd around him. I was like, okay, that's DEFINITELY Rod Carew. He was happily talking to everyone, so I walked over to him (I'm not shy). When he saw me, he was like, "it's the young lady who held the door for me." We made small talk (because of course I just make small talk with a Hall of Famer). When I said I was from Dallas, he was like, "My heart doctor is from Dallas, I like people from Dallas." He was a sweetheart and he even took a photo with me.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew. I didn't notice his shirt until I sat down to take a photo with him. It literally says Rod Carew. Lol.
The Hall of Fame was amazing. I honestly felt like little kid at Disneyland or something- I was that giddy. I spent a few hours in the museum on Thursday night (because I'm the person who has to read everything in a museum). I only got through the first floor and half of the second floor on Thursday, so the next day I went back to finish my tour. It was a little more crowded then, but that was okay. The best thing about Cooperstown is that everyone there is a baseball fan. You don't care what team people around you like, you all are fans of the same sport. Cooperstown is a place where even Yankees and Red Sox fans get along. :)

The street that the Hall of Fame is located on has a ton of gift shops and sidewalk sales. It has a small town feel and I loved it. During Induction Weekend they closed off part of the main street so visitors didn't have to worry about cars driving up and down the road. That weekend there were a ton of former players at different locations signing autographs (for a fee, but some were fairly inexpensive). And most of the players took a photo with you after the autograph. I lucked out and ran into a few players just walking around the town, and got photos with them that way.

Top (l-r): Darryl Strawberry (for the record, he approached me and my friend and started talking. We just asked if we could have a photo and he said yes); Bert Blyleven (he played for the Rangers in 1976-77); Frank Thomas (he calls himself the original Frank Thomas. He was a peach-he played for the Pirates in the 50s and I mentioned meeting Phil the usher when I was in Pittsburgh. He said he was good friend with Phil); Bottom (l-r) Pedro Sierra (he played in the Negro League); Dan Gladden (he played for the 1991 Twins, who sadly beat the Braves in the World Series that year); Pete Rose (who isn't in the Hall of Fame, because well, you know why) 
In one of the shops, an artist named Justyn Farano had set up a bunch of his paintings to sell. He's an amazing artist- check out his website here. His paintings were great, but were out of my price range (and also it would have been impossible to get on an airplane), so I opted to buy a print of three of his paintings (which were MUCH cheaper, and easier to put in my carry on). 

He said he almost didn't bring the Beltre prints because he didn't think they would sell, but he almost ran out of them (granted me and my friends purchased four of them). Lol. And of course I got the Chipper print and the Class of 2018 print. 
Saturday was parade day but we had a full day of autographs and sightseeing before the parade that evening. We purchased lawn chairs at a local Dollar General so we could mark our spot for the parade. That's another great thing about Cooperstown, people respected other people's property. We set up our chairs on Friday night and no one had touched them or moved them on Saturday morning. 

Saturday was also Braves day for me, mainly because I had an autograph session with former Braves manager Bobby Cox. I wore my Steve Avery shirtsey and received SO MANY COMPLIMENTS from other Braves fans who passed by me. 

The guy in the photo made these amazing baseball signs (it was out of my price range for that trip, but maybe one day I'll get one). When I walked by and he saw my Avery shirt, he was like, Steve is a good friend of mine. He asked if he could take a photo to send Steve. I said sure but was like, oh, he knows who I am. Lol. I think I've mentioned before on here that Steve and I are Facebook friends. :)
My friends and I once again split up (because they had autograph sessions that I didn't), and I walked around checking out the various booths. I passed by the booth of Dan Schlossberg. He has written many books, including one about the Braves of the 90s and early 2000s (that caught my attention). He complimented my Avery shirtsey as well and said he knew Steve too (EVERYONE KNOWS STEVE AVERY HERE- I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE). I opened the book and the page I happened to turn to had a photo of Steve Avery. SOLD. 

There was another book booth set up next to Mr. Schlossberg's (because I'm the girl who goes on vacation and buys books). The book was about the legacy of Babe Ruth. Since I visited his museum in Baltimore a few months earlier, I stopped to hear more about it. I made small talk with the author and then he introduced the gentleman sitting next to him- that man was Babe Ruth's grandson, Tom Stevens. Of course I had to buy the book. I'm gonna need a bookshelf for just my sports books at some point. 
The man standing next to me is Babe Ruth's grandson Tom Stevens. Next to him is the author, Jerry Amernic
It was almost time for my Bobby Cox autograph session so I made my way to the shop where he would be signing. The ticket information said he would be signing outside on the sidewalk in front of the card shop. When I got there it was organized chaos. Pedro Martinez was also signing at that same shop, on the same sidewalk. No one knew where lines were beginning or ending. I saw some guys wearing Braves shirts so I assumed they were there for Bobby Cox. We made small talk (yes, I tend to do that with everyone). They were from New York but grew up watching the Braves on TBS (like me). We joked that we were the TBS kids that ESPN did a story on a few years ago. Anyway, Bobby Cox was outside for about 3 minutes when they realized it was just going to be too hot for him (the man is 78 years old after all). So they moved him inside. So they had to move the autograph line inside. My new friends and I made a conga line so we didn't get separated and made our way inside the shop. They were nice enough to take my photo when Mr. Cox was signing for me (they weren't allowing posed photos with him). We decided to celebrate surviving The Bobby Cox Autograph Signing of 2018 with some beverages, so we went to a restaurant across the street. 

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my new friends. They decided to get Leo Mazzone's autograph (former pitching coach for the Braves), and they offered to pay for mine. When Leo saw my Avery shirt, he was like, I love Avs (same Leo, same). John Smoltz (former Braves pitcher and Hall of Famer, for the non baseball people reading) was sitting at a table next to Leo. Smoltz was charging $199 for an autograph so I had passed on that opportunity. I just wanted a photo but you had to buy an autograph in order to get a photo. Smoltz didn't have a line at that moment (I think he was on a break), so I took the opportunity to just walk up and say hi. He was very nice. I apologized for bothering him (he said it was no bother). I rambled on about growing up watching him play and thanked him for being there that weekend. I then asked if I could just have a photo, and he smiled and said absolutely. Boom. Free photo with Smoltz.
My new friends. And some former Braves. :)
At this point, it was almost parade time. I took video instead of photos during that, so I don't really have photos of the parade. I'm having issues getting a video to post on here, but just trust me when I tell you that Chipper waved at me as he went by. :)

After the parade ended, our time at Cooperstown was sadly coming to an end. I said goodbye to my new friends (after becoming friends on social media, so we could keep in touch), and my peeps and I headed back to our AirBnb (which was about 40 minutes from Cooperstown). It was a super cute place in the middle of nowhere, but during Induction Weekend, rooms are hard to find near Cooperstown.
My baseball peeps!!
We left the next day for New York City, which is where we parted ways. My friends were going to head on to Cleveland from there and I was going to stay in NYC for the week visiting some friends. I'll post my NYC trip recap in another post. :)


Monday, July 8, 2019

A Very YOLO Trip: Ohio

We left Detroit early the next day to make our way towards Cleveland for the final game of our baseball trip. We did pass through Taylor, Michigan on our way, which is the hometown of former Atlanta Braves great Steve Avery. :) I'm sad to say there was NO statue of him by the city limit sign. Oh well. 

We had one scheduled stop along our way in Fremont, Ohio to see the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum (because- history!) To be honest, before we made the stop, I knew absolutely nothing about President Hayes. But, that's one reason I love stopping at places like this- I learn something new. And there was SO MUCH to learn at this one.

The house where President Hayes lived was next door to the library and museum, so we took a tour of that first. We had an amazing tour guide who knew so much about President Hayes and his wife, Lucy. You could tell this guide had a passion for the history of the president, and it wasn't just a script he had memorized. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the house, but we learned that over 90 percent of the furniture and artifacts inside the house belonged to the Hayes family. 

First Lady Lucy Hayes seemed like an amazing woman, I'm still determined to read up on her. She was the first First Lady to receive a college diploma. She was an advocate for African-Americans before and after the Civil War and she invited the first professional African-American musician to perform in the White House. She is known as Lemonade Lucy because the Hayes family didn't serve alcohol while they lived in the White House.

Lucy's college diploma
We were there on a Tuesday in early May, so it wasn't super crowded. Although I'm not sure how crowded it gets on a weekend or during summer months. If you ever find yourself near Fremont, OH, I recommend stopping. Even if history isn't your thing, I think you will find it interesting.

We continued on to Cleveland, where we got to Progressive Field two hours before the game started and just as the gates were opening. Oh, but wait. At Progressive Field, you are only allowed to stay in the outfield and Indians Hall of Fame plaque area until an hour before the game starts. This means you can't walk around the concourse or try and get photos of batting practice. Kinda dumb. 

Finally when they allowed us to walk around we went to the Indians side because Lisa wanted to try and get some autographs and I was hoping to see my high school friend Matt Belisle (who was a pitcher for the Indians at that time). She got a few autographs (but not the one she really wanted), and I saw Matt from a distance, but sadly not close enough to say hi. As we were heading up towards the team store, a Cleveland fan let us know that the Indians players would sometimes sign autographs at the gate by their parking area. We decided we would check that out after the game.

We had great seats behind the Rangers dugout. It was season ticket holder club level seating (and we got the seats for a great deal on StubHub). It was so fancy that the ushers checked your ticket multiple times to make sure you were supposed to be sitting there. We had access to the season ticket holder club inside but with a view like this, why would we want to leave our seats?

At one point during the game, Elvis Andrus noticed my Rangers gear and told the usher to give me a ball. Halfway through the game my phone starting blowing up because the Rangers telecast put us on TV and everyone had to tell me. Lol. Of course they didn't catch us smiling, but oh well.

The Rangers had a four-run lead going into the bottom of the 9th. SOMEONE (not me) decided to say that our closer was going to blow the game by giving up a grand slam. And guess what, that is what happened. Thanks a lot Kela. So, we got free baseball. Two innings worth of free baseball. BUT THANKFULLY, the Rangers were able to get a win for us in the 11th. 

After the game we decided to stalk, I mean, wait to see if any Indians players would sign as they were leaving, so we camped out by the Indians parking lot. There were a lot of other fans there, so evidently it's a well-known fact that they sometimes sign. While we were waiting, I noticed a Rangers pitcher (Jake Diekman, who is actually no longer on the team) walking out of the Indians parking lot. A few other people approached him, so I walked up in my Rangers gear, congratulated him on their win, and asked for a photo. As you've noticed, I go for a photo op over an autograph, it just means more to me. He was super nice (and his super nice wife took the photo for us). I told her she was a champ and she laughed and said she was used to it and she really didn't mind doing it. 

We were just about to give up and leave when the player Lisa had wanted an autograph from came out. SUCCESS!! At first we thought he wasn't going to sign because he got in his car, but he then backed it up closer to the gate and signed for several minutes. We were close to calling it a night when my friend Matt walked out (FINALLY). We hadn't seen each other since high school (we were on newspaper staff together), but we were able to catch up for about 15 minutes. It was good to see he was still the same nice guy that he was in high school- the majors hadn't changed him. He thanked me for waiting around so we could catch up. We had tried to meet up a few times before (once in Texas and once when I was in Minneapolis for a game when he played for the Twins), but it never worked out. 

Our flight home to Texas wasn't until late in the afternoon that next day, so we decided to squeeze in one last sightseeing option- the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. Fun fact- we were originally going to see the William McKinley presidential library, but our tour guide at the Hayes Library said if we only had time to go to one, to pick the Garfield National Historic Site. He said it was better than the McKinley library. Don't get me wrong, I will still make it to the McKinley library one of these days. Lol. The Garfield historic site was actually closer to the Cleveland airport, so it worked out better that we decided to go there. 

The only thing I knew about President Garfield was that he was assassinated, so it was interesting to learn a little more about his life and his short presidency. He was shot in July of 1881, just four months after taking office, but he didn't die right away (he eventually died in September 1881). It was stated that he most likely died from the treatment he received. If they had taken better care of him, he might have lived. We also learned that after his death, his wife added the Memorial Library wing to the house, which set precedent for presidential libraries. She felt the public needed to be able to see his papers and writings. So, we basically have Lucretia Garfield to thank for our presidential libraries.

The top hat in the top left corner is the one Garfield was wearing when he was shot. The chair on the far top right is one that Garfield would sit in while reading.
The tour of the house was interesting- again, the crowd was light. In fact, Lisa and I were the only ones on the tour of the house at that time. The tour guide at the Garfield house was also very good. There were sections of the house built after the president had died, so she also made sure we knew if we were in a part of the house that Garfield had lived in or not. I also recommend visiting this historic site if you are in the area.

This wreath was placed on Garfield's casket during the funeral. It was a gift from the Royal Family in England.
Obligatory photo on the front steps of a president's house
We got to the Cleveland airport a little early, but that gave us time to grab something to eat and just relax before boarding our flight. We finally got back to Texas on a Wednesday evening, almost a week after we had left. It was an exhausting, but fun trip. Lisa and I decided at that point that we traveled well together and made plans to take another trip in 2019 (which we have already done and I will eventually recap). Lol.

Again, if you have made it this far, I thank you for reading. Two more 2018 trips to go and then on to 2019. Maybe I'll get back into this blog thing after all! :)

40 Through 40 Update:
3. Visit three presidential libraries on my Presidential Library to Visit list (2) (3)


Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Very YOLO Trip: Detroit

I know, I'm horrible. Yes, I'm STILL recapping my 2018 trips. **insert face palm emoji**. Yes, I've already taken a trip in 2019. I've had A LOT of people giving me guilt trips lately about letting my blog updating slide, so here I sit trying to at least wrap up my 2018 road trips. Here's hoping I'll get my 2019 trip recapped by 2020. Lol.

Okay, so the last time I updated we were in Toronto. I know it's been a little while (five months), so here is the last post I wrote if you want a recap

We left Toronto on a Monday morning to make the four hour drive to Detroit for the Tigers game that night. I'll spare the details of how we made a quick stop in a small Canadian town and the gas station restroom looked like something straight out of a horror film. I honestly don't think customers were supposed to be back there but the guy at the register took pity on us and let us use it. I swear I'm a 48 Hours episode waiting to happen. "After posting that she was leaving Toronto to head towards Detroit, she was never heard from again. Her cell phone last pinged in the small town of **insert the name of the town that I have now forgotten because this was 14 months ago**. 

I may have been humming America the Beautiful as we crossed back over into the United States (I don't really remember). We had to explain at the border why we were from Texas but were driving a car with a Pennsylvania licence plate (because the rental car we got in Baltimore had PA plates). The border patrol agent was pretty excited when she found out we had been traveling to see baseball games (she was also a fan- female sports fans unite!)  

I'm not going to lie, Detroit isn't the prettiest city, BUT I loved Comerica Park. So many people put it down, but I really enjoyed the ballpark experience there. I loved the design of the outside of the park.

Random side note (that has nothing to do with Comerica Park, but it does have something to do with the Tigers so I'm going to mention it): When I was a kid, there was a Disney Channel movie called Tiger Town that I absolutely LOVED (because it was about baseball and my baseball obsession started early in my life). I remember watching this movie when I was like 5. It starred Roy Scheider (from Jaws) and Justin Henry (the little brother in 16 Candles). The movie was filmed in Detroit and a lot of scenes were filmed at Tiger Stadium (which sadly was demolished after the Tigers moved to Comerica Park). Scheider plays an aging Tigers player named Billy Young who is on the verge of retirement. His dream of playing in the World Series is fading (because the Tigers aren't doing well and he has lost his ability to hit the ball). Billy is the favorite player of Alex (played by Henry). I could type out the rest of the plot but I'm lazy, so you can just read the Wikipedia recap here. It's not available for purchase, but I just checked YouTube and a copy is available here. I will be watching it after I finish this post. Aw, memories. Lol.

Okay, so sorry for getting sidetracked. For those who know me, it's not unusual for that to happen. :) ANYWAY- back to 2018 and Comerica Park. I loved it. Don't @ me. The concourse area was great- they have a carousel AND Ferris Wheel. We found Mickey, a baseball fountain, a giant bobblehead, and I got to sit on the Triple Crown throne. :)

Before the game, we walked around the whole ballpark (because we were not able to get there in time for a tour). They had a lot of statues just beyond the outfield (if you know me, I'm a big fan of statues). I liked the open concourse (which allowed you to see the field as you walked around).

They had a lot of food choices but if you know me, you know I'm NOT a huge foodie- I stick to "normal" foods when I go to baseball games. So, I'm sorry to disappoint if you were wanting some great food recommendation at Comerica Park. Oh, and yes, the Tigers give you a lid AND a straw with your souvenir drink. I don't know what the Rangers deal is by not giving us lids and straws with our drinks. The majority of the ballparks I've visited give you at least a straw. Sigh. Maybe in the new ballpark.

I don't know why the cup looks so tiny in this photo- it's a normal size souvenir cup
We had great seats for the game. We once again got to see the Rays play on the road. If you remember WAY BACK to last July when I first started this trip update (this is so embarrassing that it's taking me a year to recap this trip), we saw the Ray play the Orioles in Baltimore. If you would like a refresher, here is that post.

Obligatory selfie from our seats

We actually saw a pretty good game (if you like a pitching duel). The game was scoreless going into the 9th. The Rays scored three in the top of the inning and despite a good attempt by the Tigers in the bottom of the 9th, they came up short and lost the game 3-2. The Rays also won the game against the Orioles so evidently we are good luck for them.

This game was in April, and the temperatures got a little too cool for this Texas girl (okay, it was like 70 BUT BREEZY), so I had to put on my Rangers light jacket during the game. Fun tidbit- we ran into other Rangers fans as we were leaving. They had noticed my jacket during the game and they happened to bump into us outside afterward. They were excited to find fellow fans.

Like I said, I really enjoyed my time there. I would definitely go back. BUT next time I'll be sure not to get lost. We possibly made a wrong tour leaving the ballpark (there was construction and the detour signs were not well marked and our GPS freaked out and we ended up going the wrong way). We also ended up in a part of Detroit no one really needed to be in at night. We possibly made some illegal turns, but you know what, we didn't care. Lol. We finally got back to our hotel safe and sound (obviously, since I'm here a year later talking about it).

Okay, I have ONE MORE POST for this trip, and then my recap of A Very YOLO Trip 2018 will be DONE. It's late so I will post that tomorrow. At least I hope I will post tomorrow. Or maybe in five months, who knows? Lol. And I have two more trips from 2018 to recap after that. Sigh. I guess traveling has gotten in my way of blog updating. As always if you made it this far, thank you for reading. Much love!!