Results tagged ‘ Bob Feller ’
E.U.P. Travelers vs. Gaylord: In between our weekly Little League games and our monthly Minor League adventures, the kids and I have been enjoying a brand of baseball that seems to have gone unnoticed in our country lately. That brand is American Legion Baseball. Following our team, the E.U.P. Travelers (stands for Eastern Upper Pennincula), gives us a chance to relax and enjoy quality baseball that features the best players from around the area. This weekend we were able to catch a couple of games, including the Travelers (representing Eagle Post 3) beating the Gaylord, Mi team by ten runs before the rain hit. The team and league, however, doesn’t even have a website to publish their scores or stats. I noticed a game while taking the kids to the park a couple of weeks ago, and had to hunt down the coaches to get a schedule. Again, no website, and very little coverage in the local press.
American Legion ball came into existence in 1925 when local posts wanted to further support their communities through athletic games, and was the first program to provide a national tournament for teenagers. The leagues have gotten financial help from Major League Baseball as well, especially during the early days, to keep the programs running. Today the program registers over 5400 teams in all of the 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico. Almost 100,000 teenager between the ages of 15-19 participate each year. Since it’s beginnings, the league has had over 10 million players with nearly 75% of the current college players being program graduates. American Legion Baseball also helps their players financially giving away $51,000-$1,000 for a player scholarship from each department based on leadership, character, scholarship and financial need. Also, since 1949, the American Legion Player of the Year and recieve a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This makes the recipients the only amatuer players invited to the exhibit. As of today, more than half of the Major League players played Legion Baseball. The list of alumni include Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Mark Texiera, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux, and Chipper Jones. The program had arguably the biggest impact on HOFer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians. Growing up in a small farming community, Leagion Baseball gave him the oportunity to be discovered.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Bob Feller Hometown Museum: The second day of our pilgrimage took us west via the exiting I-80 highway, past the World’s Largest Truckstop, and into the small town of Van Meter, Iowa. Van Meter is just west of Des Moines, and home to Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. A nice little museum was constructed in his honor there, and since we were going to Des Moines anyway, it seemed like a good stop on our trip. The museum wasn’t very big, but it was packed full of memorabelia from his early baseball days, to his MLB career and no-hitters, to his days in the Navy during World War II. Yes, Feller was one of the brave men who gave up his baseball career for a couple of years to server his country. Thank you for that, too, Bob. It was hard to get some really good pic because the building wasn’t big enough for me to back up and get some wide angled shots. We were also just shy of meeting Dwight Gooden, who was there the day before signing autographs. Some of the cooler stuff they had was the bat that Babe Ruth used to lean on during his retirement ceremony at Yankee Stadium, which belonged to Feller, and a couple seats from the old Cleveland stadium. It was a fun time and definately worth the trip.
Photos property of MIB
I finally got things finalized for next years baseball trip. This might sound obsessive on my part, but where I work we have to have our vacation leave picks submitted by the first of the year. I actually needed the dates and times of games to garauntee I can go. Here’s the rundown.
The Games: Day one of next years trip starts at the college level in DeKalb, IL watching the Central Michigan Chippewas face the Northern Illinios Huskies. I’m really impressed with the college game, and glad we’ve added these to our trip. From there we have to make haste to Davenport, IA to see the Quad Cities River Bandits host the Burlington Bees (Class A). The Bandits home field is right on the Mississippi River, and is gorgeous at night. Day two takes us to Des Moines, Iowa to see the Triple-A Iowa Cubs host the Omaha Royals. Triple-A ball is always a good chance to see future MLBers. Day three takes us back east to see the Cedar Rapids Kernels face the Kane County Cougars. The game’s at noon, so plenty of time to check out Cedar Rapids. Day four will take us to Clinton, Iowa to watch the LumberKings host the Beloit Snappers. Our trip ends on day five, and starts out in Burlington with the Bees taking on the Cougars. From there we’ll head to Peoria to watch the host Chiefs play the Kernels. There you have it-seven games in five days. But the games are only a part of the trip.
Bob Feller Museum: Just west of Des Moines is the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter Iowa. This should have some great memorabelia of the this HOFers career. One piece I know they have on display is Feller’s bat that Babe Ruth used to hobble out onto the field at Yankee Stadium in 1948. We’ll go here on day two before the Cubs game in Des Moines.
A touch of Hollywood: On day three on our way from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids we’ll be stopping in Norway, Iowa. This is the setting of the film The Final Season based on the true story of the high school baseball team there that won 20 state baseball championships despite being one of the smallest schools in the state. It’s a great movie and a greater story. If you havn’t seen the movie yet, I do recommend it for all baseball fans. I believe they just opened a baseball musuem there this year, too.
On day four we’ll be heading north of Cedar Rapids to Dyersville to see the movie site of a film most reading this have seen many times:
‘This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be good again. Oh people will come. People will most definately come.’ -Field of Dreams.
That’s right, Darth, you guys build it, and I’ll be there. The site is open to the public to play catch, take a few swings, or just sit and enjoy the setting. I can only imagine this being some sort of sureal experience. The games mixed in with the other sites should make for a memorable vacation. I’m sure when I get back, though, it will be awhile before I eat any corn.