Wednesday 6 October 2010

Day 40 – Take Me Out To The Ballgame

There are certain places that you spend your whole life thinking about reaching; that you constantly say ‘one day I’ll get there’ and then hope you’ll eventually get around to planning that long dreamed vacation. Based on the size of this trip, I’m probably a person that has a longer list of these places than most, but today wasn’t about a long held dream of mine, it was about one of Joe’s.
If you know Joe well, you’ll know that (unlike me) he doesn’t sit around dreaming of travelling the globe; most of this world’s wonders he could take or leave. The promise of going out and seeing something awe-inspiring could easily be as enjoyable as sitting on the sofa and decompressing to an episode of Seinfeld for him. But, when planning this trip I knew there was only one place he really cared about going – Cooperstown, NY.
This beautiful small village has somehow managed, against all odds in this modern world, to keep its old world charm and shut out big business. It’s the kind of town that you think only exists in the movies because surely nowhere could be that clichéd picturesque.
But it isn’t this that brings the tourists to Cooperstown. Americans come here (and have done since 1939) because it is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A Mecca for everyone that grew up on Baseball and wants to see the pieces of memorabilia that littered their childhood memories; whether they were made while sprawled out on the living room floor staring up at the TV or during those lucky times their parents would take them to sit in the stands of their beloved ballparks.
The items on offer here are worth millions due to the history that goes along with them and I doubt any other sport in the world could amass a collection of this proportion. There are balls that broke records, bats used to hit game changing homeruns and trading cards that have been past around for over a century – including the priciest baseball card in the world - the ‘T206 Honus Wagner’ which is now worth $3 million (they have 2 of them!).
Honus Wagner, a player in the early 1900s, demanded his baseball card be pulled from circulation as back then they were distributed in packs of cigarettes and he didn’t feel it was right for kids to have to buy cigarettes to get his card. Quite forward thinking of the guy considering what we now know about the dangers of nicotine.
The Hall of Fame has three levels celebrating America’s favourite pastime and even being a Brit, who grew up considering baseball no more than a glorified version of ‘rounders’, was moved by the passion that is invested in this game. It’s a great place to visit and Joe was in his element.
As we moved onto state number 26 – Vermont – we thought we’d left historic baseball behind, but it was rather ironic that we went to Cooperstown on a day when another major moment in its history occurred. As we were having dinner tonight we caught the end of the Playoff game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds, where pitcher Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter – only the second person in the history of baseball to do this during the post-season! The only other pitcher to do this was Don Larsen for the Yankees back during the 1956 World Series.

It’s a shame to have to mention the Yankees in the blog today though, as after dinner we watched them beat the Twins in their first game of the post-season…Let’s hope the next game in the series goes a little better!!

So, until tomorrow…

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