I feel like shit tonight, and I really don't have the energy to bang out a long thoughtful post because all I can think about is how shitty I feel. But, because I have to post something, I'm going to re-post a blog I wrote a long time ago detailing my trip to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. My apologies to those who were expecting something current, but I just don't have the energy to put anything into it.
The summer of 1997 was a time that I will remember for the rest of my life. I had just turned 17 that July, and for my birthday/early high school graduation present my grandparents gave me the greatest gift I had ever received. They didn't hand me the keys to a brand new car (although it would have been a nice gesture), but instead they took me along with them on a trip to Niagra Falls, New York.
I learned from my grandmother that we had a distant cousin who lived in Buffalo, which is approximately 30 minutes away from Niagra Falls.
My grandmother had always wanted to go to Niagra Falls, so she used the family visit as an excuse to finally make the trek to upstate New York and see them.
When she asked me if I wanted to go along, I agreed because I didn't know if I would ever have another opportunity to go again (as to this day I have not, so in retrospect I am glad that I agreed to go) and it would be better than what I had planned to do over the summer anyway.
After I agreed to go, my grandfather began looking at his road atlas.
Before I go any further, I must say that my grandfather's road atlas was unlike any other I had ever seen before. His was full of markings, highlighted roads, and handwritten directions (apparently the map wasn't good enough so he had to add his thoughts on the "proper" routes to take) that made it nearly impossible to see the map, and it baffles me to this day how we made it to our destination with a map that couldn't be read or understood.
As he looked over his map of New York, he noticed aloud that Cooperstown, New York was only 250 miles from Niagra Falls and the trip could be re-routed to accommodate a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. That is, of course, if I wanted to go.
My grandfather knew that baseball was my favorite sport, and he also knew that it would make my world if I were able to visit the Hall of Fame Museum. In fact, he knew all along that if I agreed to go to Niagra Falls that Cooperstown would be added to the itinerary.
We set up the time frame for the trip, and I agreed to be back to my grandparents' house two weeks later to head up to New York. Those two weeks seemed to take an eternity to pass, and every night I dreamed about the experience I was going to have while in Cooperstown.
I couldn't wait for those two weeks to be over so we could hit the road. While other guys my age would probably spend the majority of their summers doing much of nothing, I was going to be different. I was given the opportunity to spend my summer basking in the glory of baseball gods from the past, and it would certainly be the greatest time of my life...if only those two weeks would hurry up and pass.
The time finally came for us to leave for our trip, and I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. The 13 hour trip seemed like it was 13 years to me, and I didn't think we would ever arrive. What seemed like 10 years later, we arrived in Binghamton, New York late that evening to stay for the night. The next morning, we set out for the remainder of the journey to Cooperstown which turned out to only be another hour's drive.
This is one of the things you have to love about grandparents. Any other family member would have done one of two things: (1) stopped for the night a few hours earlier to make the next day's trip a little more worth it, or (2) drove the last leg of the trip that night and found a hotel in Cooperstown. But, I was with my grandparents, and to them stopping an hour away from the destination to stay the night seemed to make perfect sense. I couldn't really complain much since it was a totally free trip for me, and it was because of me that they were going out of their way to visit Cooperstown to begin with.
We arrived in Cooperstown at approximately 8:34 A.M. and found out that the Hall of Fame Museum didn't open until 9:00, so we had a little while to wait outside before the doors would open. Those 26 minutes seemed to take an eternity to pass, but eventually they did come and go, and I was finally allowed access to the mecca of baseball history that I had so impatiently awaited to see.
As I entered the building, I was taken aback by the displays and plaques that were scattered throughout the museum. Every where I turned there was a piece of baseball history staring back at me, giving me visions of the game from years gone by. [Yes, it brought a tear to my eye when thinking about it.]
My grandfather was there to tell me stories of his youth, recalling players and games that he had seen as a child growing up in the 1930's and 1940's. He recanted tales of his boyhood heroes to me, and as he spoke I could see a glimmer in his eye that this place had brought back many pleasant memories for him. It was almost as if the trip was meant for him more than it was for me, and that I was just fortunate enough to go along for the ride.
We spent the rest of the day in the museum. Unfortunately, we only had one day set aside for the trip to Cooperstown, and we had to leave for Niagra Falls the next morning. [If you truly want to experience everything the museum has to offer, you need to spend at least 2 days there. A one day trip doesn't give you nearly enough time to see everything there is to see.]
Niagra falls was truly great, and seeing (and meeting) my family was also wonderful, but nothing compared to that day in Cooperstown, which still ranks in the top five days I have ever experienced in my life.
Its time is limited though, because it currently sits in 4th place behind my wedding day and the births of my two children. I know that both of my children will eventually have moments that will slide my trip to the museum further and further down the list, so I have to enjoy its place in the top five while I still can.
This post is dedicated to all of the greats who have played the game of baseball, who have given their entire lives to the sport they loved and were rewarded by having their names remembered for all time in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. My heartfelt congratulations goes out to the 2009 inductees who will add even more splendor to the museum for those who are fortunate enough to visit its hallowed halls over the course of time.
And also to my grandparents, who gave me the greatest gift a 17 year old kid could ever dream about receiving -- a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
That's it for this week. Hopefully I'll be over this shit by next week and will be able to talk about something more current. If you have anything you'd like to discuss, feel free to do so in the comments.
Until next Monday...