“Let’s Play Two” – Ernie Banks ‘Mr. Cub’
Ernie loved to play the game, and he definitely would regularly say this, on a beautiful summer Chicago day. I always remember it as the line from Steve Goodman’s song, “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,” – “It’s a beautiful day for a funeral – Hey Ernie, let’s play two.” I’m sure the daughters have heard me say many, many times that it’s a beautiful day for something, Hey Ernie let’s play two. Not that they ever paid attention to me or had any idea of the origin. Oh well. Ernie’s name will live on in this family for at least another generation.
I’ve been waiting for the right day to start the post with Ernie’s quote and today was the day. Last night we were rained out of the Greensboro Grasshopper game, but they made it up today with a double-header. The day started out gray, but the sun came out midway thru game 2, the temperature got up to about 70 and it truly was a beautiful day for a ballgame. Although 2 7-inning games were planned, game 1 went 10 innings so we definitely got our money’s worth. The PR guy, Claude Hopper, was one of the best we’ve seen so far, there were only about 50 people in the stadium, but he gamely worked the crowd and genuinely seemed happy thru it all. We scored three free T-shirts, one baseball, 6 (at least) appearances on the big screen (including one kiss cam), a souvenir pin, and some fine N. Carolina BBQ sandwiches. We cheered the home team on to two losses, we are now 1-6 for the home teams; expect to be turned away from the stadium(s) any day now.
But let’s backtrack a bit, I haven’t finished thinking about the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is advertised as a place to go to learn about the game, or share the love of the game, or reminisce. Honestly, I can’t imagine it being great for anything except the nostalgia angle. Yes, I definitely learned a few interesting tidbits, but the thrill was seeing my heros’ plaques in the Hall, and walking thru the chronology of the game saying, “oh yeah, I remember these teams/players” I’m not much of a baseball statistician, I often can’t remember who won/played in the previous year’s World Series, but still I have snippets of jumbled memories of things that don’t play out in any sort of chronologic order, but still replay in my brain. Great Oriole teams with the two Robinsons, the Big Red Machine, some glory days of Oakland, and, painfully, those amazing Mets of ’69 who crushed a 10-yr old Cub’s fan’s heart. I don’t know what it is about this game that affects me so. But as long as we’re doing two-fers today, I’ll throw in another baseball quote:
“Baseball is dull only to dull minds” – Red Barber
There. I feel better now. And less dull.
Not to let one B overwhelm the other, I need to report that we actually hit three breweries in Cooperstown: Ommegang, Cooperstown Brewing, and Council Rock. Council Rock is more of a home brewer gone bigger than an actual brewery – owned by a high school chemistry teacher no less. Sort of like a legal Breaking Bad situation.
We left Cooperstown and barely made it to Reading, PA for the start of the Fighting Phil’s Saturday night game. This was the first truly crowded game we’ve seen this trip, very nearly a sell-out. Folks are pretty proud of their stadium and their team. They have the longest affiliation in the minors – it seems most minor league teams switch affiliations with major league clubs fairly regularly – and a long and storied history. The ballpark is old style, but with updates. The concourse in under/behind the stands, but they have wide areas with lots of tables where you can chill out; you can’t actually see the action, but they have lots of TV screens (and a legitimate announcer) so you don’t miss anything. The Saturday night fireworks show was worth hanging around for.
North Carolina is quite the hotbed of breweries and brew pubs. We’ve sampled plenty of offerings from Raleigh, Greensoro, and Winston-Salem. I’m posting this from the Holiday Inn near Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. There is a fitness center and pool that I am avoiding with the excuse of needing to write my blog. Tomorrow should find us heading down to Charlotte for a game, a Flying Saucer, seeing family, and borrowing a washing machine and dryer – in some yet to be determined order.
Just remember, next time it’s a beautiful day for something, make sure you do it twice.