I stopped blogging for a short time in the winter of 2009-2010. I came back probably stronger than ever, but I left out a few of the features that I enjoyed writing. One of them was the Interesting Sports Destinations feature that I used to write. I just found a few places that were not covered in other segments, but that I felt deserved to be talked about a bit. I would like to re-launch the feature with a look at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory that is located of course in Louisville, Kentucky. Continue reading
Right in downtown Chicago is a great little restaurant that shows what is great about being in the big city. On my way to Wisconsin this past fall I spent the night in Chicago. Without even thinking I was walking around town wearing a Green Bay Packers hat. I never really took any heat except when I was eating dinner. That may be because I picked Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse to eat at. This great little restaurant/bar is located just off the Chicago River on Kinzie in downtown Chicago. As soon as you walk in you are greeted by the bust of Harry that is shown to the left. What makes this place so great is the atmosphere while you are eating. I was there the day that the Cubs sale was finalized so I missed seeing Frankie O the bartender doing his weekly bit for Comcast Sports Net. They filmed the show earlier that day so of course I just had the locals to talk sports with. Sitting in the bar you can talk sports until you are sick to your stomach. Beware though. These people are passionate sports fans.
As far as the restaurant goes it is very good food. I have eaten at Harry’s several times, and I have never been dissapointed. The prices are a little steep, but you get what you pay for. The last time I went I spent $25, and walked out very full. you may come in for the sports, but you will leave full. If you are in Chicago give this place a try. You will be glad that you did.
This July I was in Minnesota as part of our yearly baseball trip. We wanted to see the Metrodome one last time before it was torn down. We also wanted to see the new Twins stadium Target Field. Through a friend we learned that you could go to the top of a parking garage to get a great view of the stadium. We picked the wrong garage, but we still got a great view. We would have had to break down some barriers to get to the top of the other garage. From what we could see around the stadium, and the little inside the stadium this place is going to be nice. From the conceptual drawings you can see that this 40,000 seat stadium is going to look very nice. It has really taken shape even more since I was there. Looking at some photos online I would say that the outside is nearly complete. Just seeing the outside of the stadium is not enough. I will have to see a game here when it opens. Maybe my White Sox will have better luck here than they did in the old Metrodome. The stadium will have an exhibition on April 2nd, 2010, and will officially open on April 12, 2010 against the Boston Red Sox. My only question will be how much snow will be on the field that day.
A week ago today I was walking around Lambeau Field. One of the highlights of the day was revisiting Packer history in the Hall of Fame. On gamedays you need a ticket to get into the Hall of Fame as it is located inside the Lambeau Field Atrium. The museum costs $10, and it is well worth it. As you walk in the first thing that you see is the Green Bay Theater. As you can see in the picture to the left they were showing ‘The Road to Glory’ the day I was at the Museum. The video is not very long, and gets you ready to visit the museum. You learn all about the history of the Packers, and really seemed to get me geared up to tour the rest of the museum. After the movie doors open behind you, and you come face to face with the scene at the goal line of the famous Ice Bowl. As you can see to the right you can look over Bart Starr’s shoulder to see exactly what he saw on that cold day. Just off from this display is a room dedicated to Vince Lombardi. They take you through his life on one wall, have a room dedicated to his quotes in the middle, and on the other wall they show you what he meant to his players. The highlight of the room is a recreation of the man’s office. I have put a picture of the office below. Notice the ash tray in between the players seats. It was a different time for sure. From here you are taken through the years on a historical tour of the Packers. They have kiosks at each display with a short audio presentation that takes you a little further than the display would. Towards the end of the exhibits you get to peer into the lockers of the Packer greats. They have a locker set up for each member of the Packers that has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The highlight for me of course was seeing the locker of Paul Horning. He is after all the reason that I am a Packer fan. It was his trip to Green Bay from Notre Dame that made the Packers my father’s favorite team. It was that simple decision that led me to become a Packer fan. Years later I was finally able to walk on hallowed ground. Seeing the locker of the ‘Golden Boy’ was a great way to start off the day. Just before you enter the actual Hall of Fame they have a little room off to the side where you can watch clips from great games in Packer history. All over the museum they have these little rooms where you can watch different clips from the Green Bay archives. These little rooms add to the experience. I watched most of the clips including the three Super Bowl wins, then went into the Hall of Fame to see the three trophies. It was really cool to see the trophy named after Lombardi in the Hall of Fame. The first two I had heard about. The last one I lived through. It was a great time for me, and it was a great way to leave the museum. After that I was ready to walk out, and see Lambeau Field for the first time.
A helmet signed by all the members of the 1997 Super Bowl team
This is another of the destinations from the book Roadside Baseball that I visited while on my recent baseball road trip. This museum is located in the Dome Plus store located across from Gate A of the Metrodome on 3rd street. As you can see from the picture it is not much to look at from the outside. I imagine since the Metrodome will no longer be hosting baseball games next year this museum will take a hit. It will either have to move, or become a relic to the old Metrodome. At first glance from down the road I wondered if it was even still open. Once inside the museum though you can see very easily that Ray Crump the owner is a huge Twins fan. Ray was a batboy for the Washington Senators, and then later was the equipment manager for the Minnesota Twins. Both of these jobs gave him great access to the players of the game. He has bats and balls signed by some of the great players of his day. He also has many objects from the glory days of the Twins. The teams of 1987 and 1991 are also well represented. The jersey of Kirby Puckett that is shown to the right is one of the jerseys shown in the museum. He has a small display of various Twins uniforms from throughout the years. Being the equipment manager that would be an easy task to do. Just think this was the guy who gave Kirby Puckett his first uniform in the pros. Did he suggest the number 34? I don’t know. Ray works in the store, and that would have been a great question to ask him, but I never thought of it. The other side of the store is a huge Twins/Vikings store with some good deals. I got the Twins Metrodome commemorative ball for $6 cheaper than I found it anywhere online. It was way cheaper than it would have been inside the stadium. This is a great stop for the baseball fan on the way to the Metrodome. The museum is free, and you can pick up some cheap souvenirs before you go into the stadium.
Ray is also a huge country music fan who has attended many concerts with backstage passes. He has many of them on display along with many pictures of him with various celebrities. He really has met many famous people in his time. Just looking through all of the pictures could put you in the museum for a while. I included a picture of one of the pictures that I really enjoyed. Ray has met people like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. This picture of Ray with Hank Williams Jr. caught my eye. Apparently the backstage section of Ray’s tour included a visit to watch him nap. This just looks awkward for everyone involved. They must have posed the Crumps in the right spot, then woke up Hank. There is also a great pic of Ray with a young Hulk Hogan. He has met so many famous people that you have to see the pics to believe them. He also has a great Elvis display from his touring days as well as a case for the Beatles visit to Minnesota.
Lexington Park was located in St. Paul, Minnesota. We came across this historical marker for the stadium while driving to the St. Paul Saints game last Friday. I have always liked the Saints for the way they make baseball fun for everyone. After visiting the monument I have yet another reason to like them. They were the begining of the White Sox franchise. In 1897 Charles Comiskey (yes the same one) had this park built for his team the Saint Paul Saints. Comiskey bought the Sioux City team after his managing contract with the Reds was up, and brought the team to St. Paul. The was part of the Western League at the time. In 1899 the league changed its name to the American League to gain Major League status. Before the club could play its first Major League game Comiskey moved the team to Chicago where it was re-named the White Sox in March of 1900. Comiskey kept leasing the park for about ten years after the move before selling the team. The Saint Paul Saints played in the park until 1956 when the team moved to Midway Stadium. All that remains of the park now is a stone monument and a couple of pictures. The front of the monument can be seen to the left, and the back of the monument can be seen to the right. It can be found in front of the TCF bank branch on Lexington Avenue not far from the current Midway Stadium. We stopped to get a look at some baseball history. What we found was the beginings of our favorite team. Sometimes the little things like this can really make a trip special. If you are in the area take a look at the site. You can see where the Old Roman first put his mark on baseball.
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 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.