Standing in the Hall of Fame…

I crossed off another item off my baseball “bucket list” with a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF; http://baseballhall.org/) in Cooperstown, NY. (http://www.thisiscooperstown.com/)

What an amazing place in an even more amazing setting. The HOF is by far the main attraction in the area, along with DoubleDay Field (the birthplace of baseball, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubleday_Field), but the bucolic city had such an allure, that I found myself just wandering the main street, visiting the many shops and chatting with the locals. It had a “San Juan Bautista” feel (for you Northern Californians), complete with a corner bakery (that had yummy donuts…breakfast of champions). The Hall itself was a shrine to baseball royalty and so well presented. The dioramas and exhibits were first class, and so rich in legend and the game’s past and future. The best part was the “Wall of Fame,” with all of the inductees’ plaques along the wall…wow, if those plaques could talk, the things they would say!

Leave no less than two days to really do the area justice. One complete day for the HOF (a day and a half, if you are the sort of person who likes to read every word of every exhibit), and then another day for to take in a game at Doubleday Field, and to enjoy the city of Cooperstown, especially some fish and chips at Alex & Ika (http://www.tatintarte.com/#/alexandikarestaurant/)…you’ll be glad you did!

Here is a handful of pictures from my trip…hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them (http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHjsaCk).

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#9: Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)

I accepted an invitation to the headquarters of an international hotel group for a job interview in late June, 2006.  Before I accepted and determined a date, I ensured that the interview coincided with an Arizona Diamondback’s home game – because that’s how I roll!

The meetings were intensive and exhausting, and, after 8 hours of interviewing, I knew that there wasn’t a fit, but I had a game to attend at my first dome field (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chase_Field)!

I taxi’d over to my hotel and then walked over to the park.  It was a HOT day, the roof was closed and the misters on full blast.  I see the point of it all – in cities like Arizona, the players would wilt and the fans would faint – but not seeing a “skyline” in the outfield, is just all wrong to me.

I had great seats, and, sadly, I remember very little else about the game.  I think I just couldn’t get over being “inside,” though, I do recall spending a good amount of time admiring the construction, and how truly impressive it really was, regardless.

I was grateful for the visit and the fact that I was able to get someone else to pick up the airfare – a total baseball bonus!

#6 – Safeco Field, Seattle

From my best recollection, I visited Safeco in early June 2005.  I was in town for a media conference and I headed out alone to see a game instead of attending a cocktail reception.  I thought the game was more important – clearly!

With no disrespect to any Mariners’ fans or Seattle natives, but this park doesn’t hold any special memories for me – other than I was really happy to visit a new park – keep in mind, it might also have something to do with my failing memory!

But, while I can’t pick one defining moment to capture my time there, I also can’t think of anything that made for any aversion – sort of like, “not too hard, not too soft…just right.”

I remember walking up and thinking that the new park was MUCH better than its predecessor – or the building that was hallowed out nearby and glad that I got to see the newer version (http://mlb.mlb.com/sea/ballpark/information/index.jsp?content=groundrules) that was completed in 1999.

I remember being excited to see Ichiro play and how I thought he had so much swagger in his walk and being amazed with the number of Japanese fans were in the stands (little did I know that three years later, I would learn to understand — or try to — the fandom that lives/breathes in Japan for their baseball).

I remember that I was excited to be embarking on a baseball “triple shot” that would start with Seattle, followed  by a Cubs game and then, finally Denver.  The baseball gods weren’t with me on that one and my Cubs game got rained out – but Denver was up on deck!

Game On!!

Today is official start of the 2011 Baseball season – and what a glorious day!

Each new season holds the promise of many great things: Big time ball, great athleticism, drama — and to steal a line from Wide World of Sports — the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!  Yes, the highs and lows that come with a long and fabulous season. 

Today also starts the official beginning of my quest to get to all 30 Major League baseball parks.  This will not be one of those, “rent a mobile home and head off across the country” treks – I do, after all, have to work!  But, weekends are plentiful and many, so I’ll do my best to get to as many parks as I can this season, and then pick up the rest next season (or the next).

So with that – let’s do this…GAME ON!