Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s Little Italy is the Piazza DiMaggio. The plaza is a shrine to Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. As you can see the centerpiece of the plaza is a statue of Joe finishing his beautiful swing. Why on earth is this shrine located in Chicago you may ask. DiMaggio was born in California, died in Florida, and was buried in California. He spent his entire playing career in New York playing for the Yankees. The closest he came to playing in Chicago was when the Cubs turned down a no risk tryout when Joe was a San Fransisco Seal. Joe really has no ties to Chicago. He did however have ties to the people that lived in and around Taylor Street. I found this gem thanks to the Sporting News book “Roadside Baseball.” It is a great book that shows you some cool baseball sites in each state. Continue reading
I was silent on here when Michael Jackson died. I was one of those people who enjoyed his music, but did not agree with some of the choices that he made off of the stage. Today I went to the Railcats game against Joliet in Michael’s hometown of Gary, Indiana. The main reason I went was the fact that the Railcats had on jerseys similar to the 1977 White Sox, and the Jackhammers had on jerseys that looked close to the 1984 Cubs. For the majority of this post I will try and sum up the game using Michael Jackson song titles. This may work out good, or it may work terribly. We will soon see.
The Jackhammers have some weird bats
Breaking up a double play the hard way
Edit 8:50 PM: I just saw online that the winning pitcher from the game Edwin Walker has been sold to the Yankees. When he was told to report to the Charlston RiverDogs their class A team he said “I’ll be There.” Sorry had to get one last one in.
I always saw the sign for the Bob Feller museum as we drove through Des Moines on I-80 going west. When I finally moved to Iowa I finally got my chance to visit the museum. The museum is set in the small Iowa town of Van Meter. It is located on the corner of Mill Street and Elm Street. Bob Feller meant so much to this small town that they gathered the funds necessary to build this museum. It started off small, but has grown up in no time. From when I first went in 2004 to the pictures they have online today you can really see the difference. This museum showcases what one man can mean to a town. There is no real allotted parking so you just find a spot on the street around the museum. Follow the steps up into the museum and you are on your way. The admission is only $5 so go and see it if you are in the area.
The museum inside is not very huge, but they pack it full of memorabilia. The museum has the main hall with a north and south wing on each side. One of the highlights for me was to see the bat that Babe Ruth was leaning on when the now famous photo of him was taken in Yankee Stadium. Before I visited Bob’s museum I never knew that the bat in the picture was actually a Feller model. Babe needed something to lean on when he came out, so he grabbed Bob’s bat as he exited the visitor’s dugout. A picture of the display is shown to the left. Before I visited the actual Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this was the closest I had been to anything touched by the Babe. The bat is showcased at the museum, but also makes its way around the country in a travelling exhibit. I was lucky enough to be there on a day it was as well. The rest of the museum is filled with glass cases full of items from Bob’s career in baseball along with other items from his life. A good example is shown to the right. A jersey of Bob’s and some baseball memoribilia is displayed in one case while his Navy Uniform and his wartime acheivements are shown in the case next to it. As a baseball fan I was amazed at some of the items in the museum. Bob Feller had a great relationship with Ted Williams, and some of the other Red Sox players of that day. A lot of their memoribilia can be found in the museum. They have done a great job of collecting items from Bob along with other great players of his time.
In the short time I was in Iowa I made a few trips to the museum. I was able to meet Vida Blue, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bert Blyleven, and Bob himself during some of the autograph signing days they had. I was also able to get balls autographed by Harmon Killebrew, Bobby Doerr, and Buck O’Neill through the museum. I became a member of the museum so my frequent visits would be free. The photo at the top of the post was taken during a signing day when Bob was present. In front of the museum was the car that took Bob to his first major league game. A signing day is a great day to meet some heroes of the game, but it is too crowded to visit the museum. The picture to the left shows Bob signing a ball for me. Most people just asked for his autograph, but I asked to inscribe the date of his Opening Day no hitter against the White Sox. (I am a Sox fan, and yes I like punishment.) He not only put all that on it he inscribed the score, and wrote “Opening Day No Hitter” on the ball. That baseball is one that will always be at the forefront of my collection. I wish we had something like this close to here so that I could experience this again. They have a great lineup of guests this year, and from the looks of the web site for the museum it will only get better. If you are in the area give the museum a try. It is worth the price of admission.
Here we are with another weeks look at the promotions in the area, and anything else that happens to catch my eye. Let’s see what we have in store this week.
Monday June 29th
Yes, we have a Monday promotion thanks to the tireless work over at Bus Leagues Baseball
Wisconsin Woodchucks – Jim Gatner bobblehead (1st 500)
Tuesday June 30th
South Bend Silverhawks – 4th of July Fireworks
Gary South Shore Railcats – Baseball Card Giveaway first 1,000 fans. The Blues Brothers will also be in attendance.
Birmingham Barons – 25 cent hot dog night.
Wednesday July 1st
Great Lakes Loons – Jurassic Ballpark Night. Drink your pop before the dinosaurs spill it.
South Bend Silverhawks – 4th of July fireworks
Thursday July 2nd
South Bend Silverhawks – 4th of July fireworks
Quad City River Bandits – Sgt. Slaughter appearance.
St. Louis Cardinals – 1966 All Star game lapel pin giveaway to the first 20,000 fans
Friday July 3rd
Toledo Mud Hens – Centennial anniversary of Swayne Field
South Bend Silverhawks – 4th of July fireworks
Gary South Shore Railcats – Camo hat giveaway first 1,000 fans
Chicago Cubs – Cubs floppy hat
Saturday July 4th
Let me just say that if your team is at home, they will have fireworks or some other promotion in honor of the fourth. I will leave all of those out.
Toledo Mud Hens – ALS Awareness night. Patriotic jersey auction.
Indianapolis Indians – American Flag to the first 10,000 fans, and a great view of the city of Indianapolis’ fireworks.
Gary South Shore Railcats – Baseball giveaway and Lou Gehrig recognition night.
Nashville Sounds – CMT cooler giveaway to the first 2,000 fans.
Chicago Cubs – Cubs 4th of July hat.
Cincinnati Reds – Jay Bruce bobblehead to the first 30,000 fans. Thanks to The Writer’s Journey for the heads up.
Cleveland Indians – Red, White, and Blue Indians cap to all fans.
Sunday July 5th
Toledo Mud Hens – Red hat day, and autograph Sunday. Players TBD.
Indianapolis Indians – Souvenir card Sunday. First 4,000 fans.
Cleveland Indians – Victor Martinez catchers mitt to all fans 14 and under.
While doing the stadium guide for the park I came across some pictures that I thought were cool that didn’t make it on the original post. I thought that I would post some of them here.
Scotty Pods and Harold talking things over.
Dye pre swing
Pauly big swing
When I was going to Cincinnati I kept wondering how cocky the team was to name their park the Great American Ballpark. They are saying that the park is great? I later found out that the park is named such because the naming rights were bought out by the Great American Insurance Company which is located in Cincinnati. They have the naming rights for 30 years. Once I left the park at the end of the night I would have agreed with my original thought. This is a Great American Ballpark. It has many things that make it so. I will highlight a few of those in the next few paragraphs.
As I said earlier in the week I really had no real plans on going to Cincinnati this weekend to see the Sox play. I wanted to, but it just didn’t seem like a reality. I had already been to the stadium, and going back is sometimes hard to justify. Then I read a very well timed post on the blog Mets Guy in Michigan about the Reds Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is basically attached to the stadium so why not go? Growing up in the eighties it was hard not to notice the Reds. They were not too far away from the Big Red Machine yet, and they were gearing up for the title runs at the end of the decade. It is literally impossible to list everything that is displayed in the museum here. I will try and highlight a few of the bright spots for me. This is a place that is worth the $10 to go and see. Your $10 admission fee covers any and all visits by you for the year, so if you live nearby it is well worth it.
Before you even pay you get to walk by bronze statues of the Wright brothers. No, not those Wright brothers. The important ones. Harry and George were basically the original Reds. They started up the first professional baseball squad. Darryl Brock has a couple of great novels set during those years called “If I Never Get Back,” and “Two In The Field.” The books are a little corny, but the baseball in them is worth the read. It was cool to see the statues as I walked in.
Right as you enter the museum you are flooded with memories from Crosley field. As I wandered around the first corner I heard a father telling his son about how dirty the White Sox are, and how they threw the World Series in 1919. In the case they were looking at was the last out game ball, and a ticket to the series along with some other great pieces of memorabilia.
I have every ticket stub from my games, and a decent ball collection so these two items really caught my eye. They ball is hard to read, and obviously very old but who would not want this in their collection. It is now safely preserved for generations to come. As you can see the ticket is in a card protector, and other than the tear from entry is in great shape. This is a part of the Sox history that I am not proud of, and it happened. As a sports junkie I want to see anything that pertains to my team good or bad. Seeing a matchup between these two teams ninety years later meant a lot more after looking into this case.
The next impressive portion of the case is the Pete Rose wall. They have dedicated an entire wall to “Charlie Hustle.” They have the ball that is shown on the left which signifies hit number one, and then the other 4,256 baseballs representing each of his major league hits. Most men would kill to get one Major League hit. Pete got that one, and then a few more. Certain balls are circled, and I wonder if they are the real deal. Earlier in the museum they had other artifacts from the day he broke Ty Cobb’s record.
This wall of baseballs really shows you what a feat that really was. If you look closely in the picture on the left you can see the reflection of the Rose garden located just outside the room with the wall. They have red roses planted out there with one white rose to signify the location where #4,192 landed. I saw #4,191 against the Cubs live on TV, and saw the highlights of the record breaker with most everyone else when it happened. It is almost impossible to get a good shot of the entire wall so I have included a half hearted attempt to the right. As you can see I still had about 1,000 hits over my head taking the picture. Despite everything that has transpired over the years I still love the way Pete played the game. It is just a shame the way he had to go out. I may have to tackle that in another post though.
Next up is the bronze tribute to the Big Red Machine. Just before you get to them though you get to see Sparky leaning on the rail of the dugout. This gives the fans a great opportunity to lean on the rail with Sparky and pose for some pictures. Just around the corner is the Glory Days room. The highlight of this room is the bronze statues of the ‘Great Eight’ players from that era. They are all there. Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Tony Perez, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Dave Concepcion.
The players are shown celebrating a big play while highlights of their accomplishments are shown in the background. This really was one of the best teams in the history of baseball. This is another great spot for fans to mix in with the Reds and get in on the celebration. If you use the right editing software at home you can bronze everything to really make it appear as if you are with the team. In the same room are the last three World Championship trophies. The trophies from 1975, 1976, and 1990 really look good in the room.
The ultimate Reds room is what every dedicated sports fan secretly wishes that they had in their house. This is a room dedicated to the Reds. Posters, bobbleheads, pictures, cereal boxes, pennants, and anything else that you can think to collect is in the room. They have a cool bar fully stocked with Reds memorabilia along with a nice big screen tv with the Reds on it. The picture to the left shows the bar, and gives you a little sample of what is in the room. Right as you go in to the right there is a picture of Ed Armbrister clearly interfering with Carlton Fisk during the 1975 World Series. It was not called that way, and the Reds went on to win that game and the World Series. This is a great room, and gives many men some bad ideas.
Finally we come to the Hall of Fame. This is a simple room with the plaques in the middle. The Hall of Fame only really existed in theory until the Reds opened the new park in 2003. I really enjoyed reading the plaques which are very similar to the ones at the Major League Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Some of the highlights for me are of course former Sox players Ted Kluszewski and Tom Seaver. Seaver came around with the White Sox at a time that I was very impressionable. He did not play there very long, but he did get his 300th win with them.
Big Klu was very much the same player. He was only with the Sox for two years, but one of those years was very successful (1959). He was the very definition of a slugger. His cutoff sleeves really showed off his huge arms. These are just two of the many Hall of Famers that are featured. Frank Robinson, Eric Davis, Harry Wright, George Wright, Johnny Bench, Tom Browning, Ernie Lombardi, Gus Bell, Johnny Van Der Meer, and Joe Morgan are just a few of the men enshrined. This is a great idea. If you listen to Joe Morgan nobody should be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame anymore. Some players like Davis mean a tremendous amount to their team for a period of time, but do not have the numbers for Cooperstown. This is a great way to acknowledge their accomplishments.
Like I said earlier, it is impossible to talk about everything in the museum. It is something that you have to see for yourself. I have just covered a few things that really stuck out to me. If you are a Reds fan this is a must to visit. Heck I would say the same if you are a baseball fan in general. Some of the best moments in baseball history have involved the Reds. Stop stalling and go to the museum. While you are there walk inside the ball park and watch a game. You will have a day to remember. This is what a team Hall of Fame and Museum should be. After the 2005 season the Sox closed the little museum that they had by the gift shop ‘temporarily.’ It has never reopened. I loved going into it and seeing the history of my favorite club. It was small, but great. I have been wondering what happened to it for the last couple of season. Maybe an email to the right people will get me some answers. We need something like this at ‘the Cell.’ Part of the problem was the museum was only available to the lower level ticket holders. Maybe some of the sellout money from the naming rights could build something similar to this. This would fit in great over by gate one where nothing is really going on right now.