Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory-Louisville, KY: While the Louisville Slugger Museum was celebrating its 20th birthday, I was celebrating one of my own. It seemed like a perfect fit for both of us to celebrate together, so the boys and I made a trip to the city for a day of baseball fun.
We arrived, and got into the factory tour right away. They don’t allow any photography during the factory portion, but it was interesting seeing how the bats were made. Trevor and I had been here before way back in 2009, but it was still fun for him to see it all again, and understand it now that he’s a bit older. And of course Brian ate it all up, and loved seeing the whole bat-making process.
After the tour, we checked out the permanent exhibits at the museum. There are many relics and bats from the all-time greats of this sport! Below, Brian looks good with Hank Aaron’s bat, and he’s grown up with stories of ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, so he was a little in ‘awe’ of ‘Black Betsy’.
As a Tiger fan, I don’t think the Justin Upton signing was a great deal, but I do love his flame-tempered bat! And below that, the third bat down was used by the greatest Tiger of them all, one of the best hitters in history, Ty Cobb.
Next we checked out the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Oddball exhibit, which is here in Louisville temporarily. It contains some cool stuff, but not everything in it pertains to baseball. The photos are of Yankee Stadium made of toothpicks, and a real ‘double-header’, a two-headed calf. I highly recommend this factory tour and museum for any baseball fan in the area. It’s definitely worth going out of your way for, also, as it’s one of the best baseball places I’ve been to, second only maybe to the actual Hall of Fame. The history of the company is so rich, especially all of the great players who have swung Louisville lumber. I’m glad the museum and I could celebrate our birthdays together!
Things move slowing here with our Little League, but the kids finally were able to get a couple of games in. Their first game was rained out, but we scrimmaged the Angels the next night to make up for it. The scrimmage went well, and we got all the kids through the batting order twice. Brian did well, and made a great play at first base. Last week we got our first ‘real’ game in, as the Cubs took on the Tigers. Brian got his first taste of playing catcher, as well as some other infield and outfield positions. We try to give the kids a chance to play a different position every inning, so they can experience each one. He also ripped a double in his only at bat, and made a nice play at the hot corner. No game this week, but looking forward to some good practices and next week’s game.
Baseball Heritage Museum-Cleveland, OH: With a little extra time, and us being so close to Cleveland, we decided to check things out for the day. Right in downtown, the Baseball Heritage Museum is tucked nicely inside the 5th Street Arcades on Euclid Avenue. This is a great little museum that contains many artifacts from the major league, minor league, and negro league. It’s run by two gentlemen who simply love the game of baseball and its history. These gentleman are more than happy to tell stories and talk baseball with all the fans that visit. They have a nice collection of old programs, pennants, photos, as well as game used paraphernalia. Being in Cleveland, there is a lot of stuff from Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, and other Hall of Famers who played for he Indians.
In all, this was a fun place to visit, and I highly recommend any in the Cleveland area to check it out. They only charge by donation, so it’s not like you’d have anything to lose, anyway. Most likely you’d finding a way to contribute, because this museum hosts many items you won’t see in Cooperstown.
Durham Athletic Park-Durham, NC: I’d be crazy not to check out the old stadium in Durham. You know, the one they filmed that movie at? It’s located just a mile or so from the new one, and it still sits in a neighborhood like it does in the movie. It seems like it’s still in use, as the outfield was being mowed when I got there. My luck, too, because the outfield gate was open, allowing me to sneak in a get a few pics, anyway. I was just amazing, though, to think that back in 1988 it was full of Hollywood magic, and Bull Durham would become one of the most loved baseball movies of all time. The first thing I did when returning home, was to watch the movie again (ok, it wasn’t the first thing, but I did watch it). It was cool to see where I had been, and knowing I’d been to Asheville, too, that was featured toward the end of the show. Our day wasn’t done yet, though, as we still needed to head west for some Carolina League action that night. I know what you’re thinking, though. Seeing four ballparks and two games in one day is a little excessive. Even for the Carolina League.
Battling the constant unpredictable weather, the 2012 Little League season is finally under way. We’ve started with some indoor clinics before we get the teams set and play outside in a week or two. Brian is just four, and will be tackling t-ball for the first time. The first year kids only play once a week and we’re just getting them to have fun with the sport and learn some of the basics. Trevor is trying to get back in the swing of things after taking a year off to play soccer. He’s excited to be playing baseball again, though, and we’ve invested in some of the catcher’s tools for him to be behind the dish. The last time he played he was seven, and in a coach-pitch league. This year as a nine-year-old he’ll have to adjust to having his peers throwing at him. He’s developed a pretty good swing, though, so I’m not too worried about him at the plate. This should be a really fun season, as I plan on managing Brian’s team and being an assistant for Trevor’s. Lily starts her girls softball league at the first of next month, too, so it looks like we’ll be spending plenty of time at the ball fields!
Sometimes I feel like the human version of Charlie Brown. My ex sure did pull the proverbial football out from under me many times during the last decade. The kid has some really good qualities, though, even if he is a bit nieve. I agree with him that fall is depressing, and the thought of no baseball for the whole winter basically sucks. But, at least I have my baseball movies to keep me entertained, and the hockey games almost every weekend up here. We also have countless Charlie Brown and Snoopy DVD’s to keep us entertained, too. They remind me of when I was a kid, and the kids love them.
Monday night Tiger third baseman Brandon Inge forfilled a life-long dream of competing in a Home Run Derby. For all his efforts, he hit 0 home runs. That’s
right, the big goose-egg. Some came close, flying to the warning track, and his last attempt just floating foul. Despite being shut out, Brandon walked back to his teammates with a huge smile on his face. Why?-might you ask, would someone smile after not hitting at least one home run during a competion like this? The answer is easy. Brandon was doing what not enough players of even fans do-just having fun.
After a disappointing season last year, Inge is simply happy to be an All-Star. He’s happy to be recognized for his efforts this season and to be part of the festivities in St. Louis. So what if he didn’t hit a home run. He was there.
Maybe we all can learn a little bit from Inge’s reaction. After all, we really are all on the same team here. We’re baseball fans. I really don’t think the players view the rivalries the way the fans do. I don’t really think most players hate players from other teams. So tonight while watching the game, just sit back and enjoy it. After all, it’s for us, the fans, anyway. We don’t have to worry about winning and losing. And this fall, lets keep the same attitude about our team and the one’s they’re playing in the playoffs. Why hate anyone? Especially just because they support or play on a certain team. Just relax, have a beer, and keep the smile on your face. After all, you’re watching baseball.