A Hall of Fame kind of week

Wow, what a week. Sure, there was a lot of driving, but my dad, brother and I went on the trip of a lifetime this past week. Planned a year ago, my dad suggested we go see the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was held last Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. I knew Greg Maddux with his 355 wins, Tom Glavine with his 305 wins, and Frank Thomas with his 521 home runs and over 1,700 RBI would all be first-ballot hall-of-famers, but we all got a treat when three more were added to the induction.

Tony LaRussa, who led my Cardinals to two world series wins (and three total), Joe Torre, who coached the New York Yankees to four championships, and Bobby Cox, the long-time Atlanta Braves’ coach who gave the Braves 14 first-place finishes in the National League East and the 1995 world series title, were also enshrined this past week.

All in all, we drove 3,526.7 miles, which is the distance between Seattle, Wash., and Key West, Fla., on the road, and went through 15 states.

The trip, which began on Thursday, July 24, began in Maumelle, Ark., and we headed to St. Louis to stay the night. On Friday, we drove to Chicago to catch a day game at Wrigley Field in which the Cubs would beat my Cardinals 7-6 in the first game of the series. At least the Cardinals would take the next two games before blowing it in San Diego, losing 2 of 3. After the game was over, we set our sights for New York, getting to our destination, a cabin in the Adirondack Mountains, on Saturday afternoon.

Cooperstown was an hour south and we made it to the Hall of Fame Museum on Sunday morning and checked it out. Talk about Heaven. We’re all baseball fanatics, so the museum was right up our alley. We took the bus to the Clark Sports Center, about a mile away where the induction was actually held, and proceeded to see roughly 50,000 people watch the six new inductees, along with 48 other hall-of-famers.

The Braves fans were out in full force and easily outnumbered the others as Maddux, Glavine and Cox were in Atlanta during its golden years. The tomahawk chop was seen often. The Chicago White Sox fans would be in second place if it were a fan competition as they were there to support the “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, who won two MVPs for the Sox. I would have to say Cardinals and Yankees fans were evenly split, which was surprising to me. You know, Joe Torre, who won four World Series for New York, I expected there to be a ton of Yankees fans. Nope. After the awesome induction, we walked the mile back to the museum to try and finish what we didn’t see in the morning, which was quite a bit. I recommend a full day for the museum itself.

After another night in the cabin, our next stop was Boston. We drove there Monday for a night game at Fenway Park. Though I’m a Cardinals’ fan, Fenway Park is my new favorite baseball stadium. What an experience! Boston fans know how to party with Yawkey Way, which is part of Fenway Park on game days and is an outdoor party before game. Really, the only negative about the park is there were ads on the Green Monster (which was news to me) and there was no room in the seats. They definitely crammed us in there, which makes it a little tough when you’re sitting beside your 6’4”, 230-pound brother. Other than those two slights, the Boston fans really impressed me. The place was packed and stayed packed – on a Monday night no doubt – even when the Red Sox were down 9-0 in the sixth inning in an eventual 14-1 defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Which brings me to our next stop – Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday night. The Orioles played the Angels that night and ended up beating the Halos 7-6 in 12 innings on Manny Machado’s walk-off home run. It was a beautiful park and a great game, but there were a few things that peeved me about that game. The Red Sox, which are in last place, sold their game out, while there were several sections at Oriole Park that may have had one or two people – not rows – one or two people. Granted, the Orioles have about 13,000 more seats than Fenway, but the fact that the Orioles are in first place in the American League East and were playing a second-place Angels team (AL West), I suppose I expected more. And … about half of the Orioles’ fans made their mass exodus home with the Orioles up 6-5 in the sixth. Pretty disappointing.

Well, after the game in Baltimore, we hit the road again, this time for a Cincinnati Reds/Arizona Diamondbacks day game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Another beautiful ballpark and some more excellent seats (the seats were great every game), the Reds lost 5-4 to the DBacks which is what I was hoping for because Cincy is chasing my second-place Cardinals in the NL Central. A lot of the Reds fans left early as well and they almost missed a Cincy comeback. I guess the one thing that bugged me about Cincinnati was the fact I couldn’t get a Pete Rose – all-time hits leader with 4,256 – shirt for my 3-year-old son, Dalton. I realize it’s because of the MLB banning Rose for betting on baseball, but it was still disappointing. I had to go to a department store and make it myself, but I did get Dalton that Rose 14 shirt!

No, the trip wasn’t over then. We stayed at a friend’s house in Louisville, Ky., that night and went to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum on Thursday morning. We were planning on staying for maybe an hour for the tour and to look around, but that hour turned into three. A pretty awesome place. We finally made it back to central Arkansas Thursday night.

I think Josh Briggs, my co-worker, said it best – “That has to be the best trip that ever was!” I agree.