April 3: Study Hall

The In League With America journey began today with a trip back to the baseball Hall of Fame.

2023: The In League With America Tour

I have gotten pretty good at getting organized to go on trips over the years, my wife Elizabeth has a lot do with that, a few decades of business travel haven’t hurt either. I spent most of yesterday packing the minivan and thus I left right on schedule this morning for the 3-hou, 45-minute ride over to Cooperstown.

It was sunny-ish but 35 degrees when I left Hartland this morning and riding past Bromley Mountain one would have guessed it was February not April. Cooperstown was warmer, though and it has warmed up more this evening as I’ve continued south To Binghamton.

What can I say about the Hall of Fame? Well, it’s pretty darn cool but you probably already knew that, or at least knew I would think so. But the history that makes this place so special comes to live in an even more visceral way in the research library. I made an appointment to visit the library a few weeks back and thus the staff had a whole bunch of materials I had requested ready for me.

I was the only visitor there this afternoon so spent three hours sitting at the end of a long table looking at baseball programs from a different era. They had programs from the 1948 Ponca City Dodgers and the Newport News Dodgers of the previous year. The had a scorecard from the York White Roses and the Redding Browns and the Oroville Red Sox. All of these towns lost their minor league team long before the Excellent Adventure took place 32 years ago.

2003: The Extra Innings Tour

Below is the blog post I wrote 20 years ago today on the Extra Innings Tour. Apologies for not having the referenced pictures on this trip. I will try to go back and post them later.

If there is a recipe for success on how to build a new ballpark without getting out the wrecking ball and tearing down the old one, the folks in Anaheim have all the ingredients in the right proportions. Edison Field looks very little like the park I stopped at in April of ’91 and there is a lot more to it than a new moniker and a fresh coat of paint. I seem to remember these palm trees being here before (I don’t think you can grow these over night – but if you can, surely the folks at Disney who own the Angels would know how) but nothing else looks the same either outside or in.

It was a beautiful afternoon from an Oregonian’s perspective. That is, it was probably a bit cool by local standards, around 60°, but it seemed absolutely gorgeous to me. I had little time to spare in getting to my seat after a long drive from Oakland (see below) but in what was a characteristic evident throughout the day, the laid back atmosphere that pervades this place didn’t make it seem like a big deal and I ended up at my seat down the third-base line in plenty of time for the first pitch.

The waterfall, pictured at left, springs to life (along with fireworks) and it had a busy day Wednesday as the Halos hit three home runs.

If you completely missed the World Series last year, you perhaps don’t know the folks in this picture, otherwise I’m sure they are familiar. This is a collection of a rare breed of animal, found only in this part of the world, known as Rally Monkeys. This group is hanging around waiting for work to do but, as described below, no rally was necessary on Wednesday afternoon.

Here is another sight I’m sure I won’t see anywhere else this year and have never seen up close and in person. The Angels got their World Champion rings on Tuesday and their trophy went on display outside the Angels store. There is no question that Anaheim’s first World Championship in any sport, has brought a sense of civic pride to Orange County and made “The Big E” the place to be. In trendy southern California that could certainly change if the Angels falter in what, is arguably, the toughest division in baseball. But for now, anyway, this is a very cool place to be and a fun place to watch baseball.

The Game:

The home team won for the second straight day on the Extra Innings Tour as the Angels pounded the Rangers 11-5. After a 10-run outburst the previous day, the Angels appear poised to make it tough on teams trying to take their title. Troy Glaus (pictured at right), Brad Fullmer and Darin Erstad all hit homers for the Angels who scored four runs in the 4th Innings and three more in the 5th to break the game open. None of the Halo Homers was as notable as the one Alex Rodriguez hit for the Rangers, though. A-Rod hit is 300th home run in the 5th inning, becoming the fastest player in history to reach that milestone.

Getting Here:

Let’s just say I was happy to get to Anaheim. I left Ashland, Oregon at about 9 AM Monday and drove about 800 miles and took in two baseball games in the next 30 hours. If you have never driven the stretch of Interstate-5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles then you may find it puzzling that I now suspect that the Eagles used this stretch of highway as inspiration for their lyrics: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

I’ve driven most of the Interstate highways in this country including I-80 across Wyoming and I-90 across Montana which both have long stretches of desolate highway. But “The 5”, as folks call it around here, is different in the respect that it connects two of the nation’s largest cities and because one can cover that ground in about six hours, LOTS of people do this drive, yet there is virtually nothing for them to do along the way.

1991: The Excellent Adventure

April 3, 1991 was the second day of our drive to California en route to Opening Day. We woke up at a KOA Kamping Kabin (I didn’t make up the spelling) and made it to a budget hotel near Knoxville.

1948: The Golden Year of the Minors

Here is the aforementioned Ponca City Dodgers scorecard. It would have set you back a nickel in 1948. The Dodgers played a total of five seasons in Ponca City (about 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City) and they were later replaced by the Cubs for two seasons where Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams played a season. But the Cubs left after the 1957 season and the last 66 springs have come to Ponca City without minor league baseball.

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