The Ohio History Center recently opened an exhibit on the history of sports in Ohio. It featured both professional and team sports, as well as sports geared toward participation, such as these classic old roller skates.
The Cincinnati Bengals came into existence as part of the American Football League (AFL), a couple of years before they merged with the NFL. The exhibit had a rare referee’s uniform from the AFL days.
A classic bowling shirt from the 1960s.
One of the most famous annual events in the state is the world soap box derby championships in Akron.
While the NBA was in existence in the early 1960s, college basketball was bigger. An offshoot of that was big time AAU basketball – Cleveland had a team that was the National Champions in 1961.
The 1970s Cincinnati Reds were a powerhouse team, lead by catcher Johnny Bench and the now disgraced Pete Rose.
High School football is big time in Ohio, and are none are bigger than the Massillon – Canton McKinley rivalry.
Probably the most famous athlete from Ohio today is LeBron James.
The exhibit was ok, but given how much sports history there is in Ohio it seemed lacking in depth and detail.
While Asheville and Akron Ohio are about 100 miles apart for one weekend they share something in common, a collection of weird people with weird, but very cool, talents.
Ashville was first on a Saturday for the annual Viking Festival. While we didn’t see many Vikings, and no Viking ships since there didn’t appear to be any water anywhere, we did observe a group that clearly spend time at renaissance festivals. In addition to their costumes most had exhibits, and an in depth knowledge, such as knife making, as well as some fire eaters and jousters.
On Sunday we were in Akron for the Oddmall, an eclectic collection of crafts. Many towns have hacked Portland’s (or Austin’s) motto – keep (fill in your city here) weird, but the group there did their best to Keep Akron Weird.
Each Father’s Day Stan Hywet Hall in Akron hosts an exceptional classic car show. Stan Hywet is not a person, rather it is an old English phrase for Stone Quarry.
The house on the estate was built for the Seiberling family in the 1920s, and is one of the largest in America at 65,000 square feet. Seiberling founded Goodyear, where he made enough money for this mansion and the original 3000 acres that surrounded it.
It does however make for a spectacular setting for a car show.
The show takes places on the large lawn in front of the house.
An added bonus was being able to tour the grounds and gardens, completing a great day.
The Akron Rubber Bowl was a stadium that was opened in 1940 as a WPA project, with a capacity of nearly 40,000. The stadium was used primarily by the University of Akron for football, but also hosted Cleveland Browns and Rams games, high school games, and numerous concerts including Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, the Rolling Stones, and many others.
With a new stadium built on campus in 2007 the Rubber Bowl became vacant. While there have been a number of schemes for re-use it was still empty in 2013 when they were auctioning off the components of the stadium (in theory to remodel it – never happened). People bought piles of bleacher seats, astroturf and other sundry stuff.
As with many old stadiums it was sad to see the state it was in, and it hsan’t gotten any better.
Akron was the host for a ‘Gravity Games‘, taking place in and around the grounds of the famous Akron Soap Box Derby Hill where a 3/4 of a mile road course was setup coming down city streets onto the access road to Fulton Airport.
A huge start ramp was set up at the top of the course to launch the riders, dropping them onto Washington Boulevard before turning left towards Derby Downs.
There were 5 different categories of races; Open Downhill Skateboarding, Women’s Downhill Skateboarding, Junior I Downhill Skateboarding (8-13 years), Junior II downhill Skateboarding (14-17 years), Street Luge and Classic Luge.
Firestone Country Club is located in the south side of Akron, in anotherwise fairly nondescript neighborhood. Firestone however has hosted numerous major golf tournaments, and continues to host a World Golf Championship stop.
These events, separate from the PGA Tour, attract all of the top name golfers from around the world. As usual I went out on a practice round so I could photograph the event.
With a sunny early fall weekend with nothing to do, we played tourist in the area we lived.
A flower festival in Barberton
Sand castles and carvings were on display
The statue was even adorned with flowers.
Akron was once the rubber capital of the world, and there is plenty of evidence of this – including Firestone Stadium, a depression era baseball stadium that has been converted for the Women’s Professional Softball team.
Quaker Oats started in Akron – one of the old silo complexes was turned into a hotel, and later, University of Akron dorms.
The new University of Akron football stadium – likely overbuilt as they never fill it.
The William McKinley Memorial in Canton.
The steps are a popular workout location.
Canton is home to the Professional Football Hall of Fame – as the freeway bridge proclaims.
Back in Akron – Fulton Airport – Home of the Blimp Hangar
The Akron Marathon attracts a large number of participants, as it is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The course starts out in downtown Akron, before working it’s way north and west, passing by Stan Hywet Hall, before returning downtown.
Since it came by our neighborhood (essentially trapping us in for the day), I went to photograph the event.