If I were Gene Siskel and/or Roger Ebert, I would probably give my trip to Cooperstown one thumb up and one thumb down. (If you know me, I don’t want any thumb jokes) The positive part was obviously the Hall of Fame and the village of Cooperstown. The shrine is second to none. It has magical qualities, whether you are an avid fan like I am or a casual fan like my wife, Sue. I think she enjoyed it as much as I did. Probably differently, but she clearly was impressed with the amazing exhibits and artifacts. I’ve been there ten times or so, but it is a remarkable experience every time I go. The Babe Ruth room is a step back into history and a look at one of the most famous AMERICANS ever. Uniiforms, bats, gloves etc are expected, but to see the Babe’s bowling ball and golf trophies he won, as well as family photos and the like were great. Nothing compares however, to the gallery containing the plaques celebrating the members of the Hall. The immortals. As I read each one, I marveled at their achievements. I reserved a couple of extra minutes to linger at the plaque of my all-time favorite player, Carlton Fisk. Maybe the most impressive part of the Hall are the wooden statues of the Babe and Ted Williams, carved by Rhode Islands’ Armand Lamontagne. The attention to detail defies description. I dare say that even Michaelangelo would doff his cap to Lamontagne’s work. There are so many things to see that you owe it to yourself to make a pilgrimage. The ambience of the village takes you back to a simpler, better era in America. As you stroll down Main St. (yep, it really is called Main St..) you can imagine Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio sitting on a park bench, unbothered by fans, discussing the science of hitting. Quaint shops and restaurants really complete the picture. Next time I go to Cooperstown, I will check out the wax museum down the street. Standing guard at the front door was a replica of the actor Jason Alexander, the man who brilliantly portrayed George Costanza on “Seinfeld”. The mannequin was decked out in a Yankees jersey, fitting for the former assistant to the travelling secretary. Doubleday Field is undoubtedly a beautiful park, but it is not meant for Triple A baseball. The infield was thick and a bit scruffy looking. The short fences made the game a joke. There was no facility for the players to dress in. Jerry and Bob, our bus drivers took the guys to the local YMCA to change and shower. The dugouts were tiny, subcompact cars are bigger. Half the team was forced to sit on a bench adjacent to the dugout. There is no press box, none of the necessities we need to do our jobs. Without getting technical, even the broadcast lines we used were the kind we used to use more than ten years ago. It was a one shot deal, however. As my old buddy Brandon Moss would say, “Just wear it.”
I made a pilgrimage to another shrine I love, The Change of Pace at 1802 Grant Blvd. in Syracuse. Owner Steve Grilli, the losing pitcher in the longest game in baseball history (yes, that one) serves up the best wings in the world. If there are any better, I need to know about them. A bus load of PawSox fans came to Central New York for the weekend and on Saturday night Rick Medeiros the director of security for the PawSox brought about 15 of them up for wings. I felt very satisfied as they thanked me for telling them about the place on the blog and during our broadcasts. The wings were a rousing success.