Columbus – June 2018 – Hot Baseball

It’s literally 100 degrees (38c) and humid so what should we do, go to a baseball game. So some decisions are dumber than others, but we lasted about 2 hours and gave up (although we found seats in the shade).

It did provide enough time for some views of the game and the crowd.

2018 06 17 2 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

After some casual stretching.

2018 06 17 4 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

It was time to play.

2018 06 17 13 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Dad is a great role model for the  little ones – what most people consider an insensitive hat and a shirt asking for beer with the baby on his lap – sitting in the sun on this hot day. The kid of the left’s face says it all.

2018 06 17 22 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Swing and a miss.

2018 06 17 15 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

The play was sketchy at times, there were 4 credited errors in the first 3 innings.

2018 06 17 17 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

 

Although there were some good plays too.

2018 06 17 34 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

An Indianapolis player launched a massive home run into the bleachers, which the guy in the pink shirt clearly does not want to catch.

2018 06 17 26 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Nor do the stunned little kids (or anyone around them)

2018 06 17 28 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Jake the Wonder dog brought drinks to the umpires.

2018 06 17 30 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

While the manager is trying to figure out how to get through to his pitcher.

2018 06 17 35 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

What brings the crowd to their feet – free t shirt toss!

2018 06 17 37 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Why is it when a pitcher is doing so poorly he gets pulled, yet they always pat them on the butt?

2018 06 17 44 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

The players look at the fans taking cover from a foul ball wondering why.

2018 06 17 45 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Finally the 4th inning was over and we gave up and went to the air conditioned car.

2018 06 17 51 Columbus Clippers Minor League Baseball.jpg

 

 

Chicago – May 2017 – Scenes from around Wrigley Field

2017 05 24 63 Chicago.jpg

 

With a hotel in Wrigleyville, and a game scheduled, it was the perfect time to wander around the neighborhood while the crowd gathered. Without tickets, and being much too cold for late May, I skipped the game to focus on the outside scenes.

Th Addison El stop.

2017 05 24 38 Chicago.jpg

 

Knock off T Shirts across the street from the stadium grounds.

2017 05 24 42 Chicago.jpg

 

Pay homage to Cubs great Billy Williams.

2017 05 24 44 Chicago.jpg

 

Security was out in full force.

2017 05 24 48 Chicago.jpg

 

Some San Francisco Giants fans hanging out in front of the fire station.

2017 05 24 52 Chicago.jpg

 

Need a Cubs shirt?

2017 05 24 54 Chicago.jpg

 

Riding in style.

2017 05 24 60 Chicago.jpg

 

With parking a premium, the flaggers go all out to attract attention. His 10′ high PARKING sign was mounted in his backpack. Many are jammed under the El tracks, and throughout small lots in the neighborhood. Most cost $40 for a 3 hour game.

2017 05 24 64 Chicago.jpg

Columbus – April 2017 – Minor League Baseball

The Columbus Clippers are a AAA minor league team for the Cleveland Indians. As one of the larger cities in minor league baseball they tend to draw well, but on this warm, windy Sunday the crowd was somewhat sparse.

2017 04 30 102 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

Still it was a beautiful day for baseball, and the action was exciting.

2017 04 30 120 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

2017 04 30 110 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

2017 04 30 133 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

As with all minor league games the in between innings promotions were amusing – this one was a ‘human Wendy’s hamburger’ build.

2017 04 30 138 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

The obligatory T-shirt toss.

2017 04 30 121 Columbus Clippers.jpg

 

As AAA players they are almost to the big leagues. The skill level was quite good, although there were a few mistakes in the play.

2017 04 30 140 Columbus Clippers.jpg

Pittsburgh- June 2016 – Weekend in the ‘Burgh

A quick weekend road trip to Pittsburgh was in store in late June, primarily to go to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. But first up was a stop at the University of Pittsburgh, specifically taking a self guided tour of the Cathedral of Learning. Built in the late 1920s, and finished in 1934, it is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere at 535 feet high, built in a gothic style.

2016 06 25 60 Pittsburgh.jpg

As you enter the building you come into the lobby, a massive 3 story high room. Around the perimeter of the first floor, and third floor are 30 Nationality Rooms designed by the various ethnic groups (mostly European) from throughout Pittsburgh.

When we arrived we immediately went to the 42nd floor, where we could look out small windows to the north, south and east, providing vistas across much of Pittsburgh, but unfortunately not a complete downtown view. Prior to the construction of Three Rivers Stadium on the north side in 1970 the Pirates played at Forbes Field, which was just to the south of the campus. A very famous photo shows fans watching the 1960 World Series from this vantage point.

2016 06 25 9 Pittsburgh.jpg

Returning back to the ground level we received a key from the attendant and wandered in and out of the various Nationality rooms for about an hour. Most of the rooms had a religious feel to them, but the furniture and artwork was very interesting, and dramatically different from room to room.

2016 06 25 20 Pittsburgh.jpg

We left Pitt to head downtown to park the car at our hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn near Market Square. Once downtown we found that numerous streets were closed or re-routed, or had changed course since I regularly drove them. Eventually we did make it to the hotel and into the garage. The Hilton Garden Inn had recently opened, and our room on the 10th floor had a decent view of the surrounding buildings.

We dropped the bags off and headed out on foot to find a couple of the Roadside America attractions previously missed. The one I really wanted to find most was the Lawrence Welk bubble making machine supposedly at the William Penn Hotel, a classic old hotel. The difference in the look and feel of the new, contemporary hotel we were staying and the William Penn were striking, but all we wanted was a bubble machine. After asking a couple of the workers we finally found a maintenance man who was familiar with it. He took us to an area that had a small museum of the hotel, and we look, and looked again, still not finding it. Finally I  went back upstairs where I found a display underneath a stairway that contained the famous bubble making machine.

2016 06 25 67 Pittsburgh.jpg

After a lengthy walk out to the Strip District and back down Penn Avenue through a jazz festival we headed to the game. A full house, beautiful weather and an exciting Pittsburgh Pirates game made for a great evening. The return trip the next day was uneventful with no interesting side trips.

2016 06 25 100 Pittsburgh.jpg

Western Pennsylvania – March 2016 – Chainsaws and Groundhogs

The second full weekend in March was very warm and snow free so we decided to make a run to Western Pennsylvania for a few sights. But first we made a stop in Warren, Ohio to check out Dave Grohl Alley. Dave was born in Warren, but moved to Washington DC at a young age. Still Warren is proud he was born there and have a Dave Grohl Alley in downtown Warren, next door to a Burger King. The display is pretty cool, and since he specialized in Grunge rock being in a grungy alley somehow seems appropriate.

2016 03 11 13 Warren Ohio.jpg

We continued our drive until we reached Clarion, Pennsylvania where we spent the night. Early the next morning we were on our way to Ridgway, our destination, for the annual Chainsaw Carvers Rendevous. This event draws artists from all over North America and Europe, well over 100 different artists. We arrived to the sound of chainsaw and the smell of wood, nothing like chainsaws in the morning.

The festival had been going on for a couple of days so there were already a number of completed carvings, with each artist displaying their work in their own booth. The booths lined 3 streets for about 10 blocks. If they weren’t blasting away with a chainsaw they were more than happy to talk about their works, and their story on how they got into chainsaw carvings. Amazingly everyone I shook hands with had all of their fingers.

2016 03 12 15 Ridgway PA Chainsaw Carvers Rendevous.jpg

We spent a long time talking with a couple of the competitors who had come down from Ontario. They said it is easier to get chainsaws into America than it is to get guns into Canada, which makes total sense to me.

While there were plenty of bears and eagles, the collections didn’t stop there. In the first block alone we saw two squirrels fighting with light swords, a horned/winged female with two giant serrated knives (which I can’t even begin to give a name to what she represented but I know I wouldn’t want to meet her live), a Sasquatch,  a knight and a crab.

There are two primary objectives to the festival; win the competition and sell their work. They start with a large block off wood, carve the basics with the chainsaw and then do the finish work with Dremel tools. Depending on the intricacy it takes them anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, or more.

2016 03 12 138 Ridgway PA Chainsaw Carvers Rendevous.jpg

The contestants were all very happy about the March weather in North Central Pennsylvania, as it is usually brutally cold, earning the town the nickname of Fridgway. After spending a few hours wandering the streets we headed on, but very satisfied we made the long drive to Pennsylvania for a bunch of chainsaw people.

Our next stop, about an hour away, was Punxsutawney,  home (of course) of Phil, the prognosticating groundhog. The town clearly plays it up to the hilt, with fiberglass Phil’s decorated as different characters displayed around town. The real Phil has a home in the local library, where you can go see him anytime, which we did. Having lived in Pennsylvania previously we knew that the Groundhog Day movie itself wasn’t filmed there (it was filmed in Illinois), but it still a nice little town and well worth a visit. Someday I will go freeze my tushie off and get up at 4 AM to see a rodent pulled out of a tree stump, but that will have to wait until another year.

2016 03 12 232 Punxsutawney PA.jpg

Our day ended in Latrobe, home of Arnold Palmer,Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, Mister Rogers and the Banana Split. Having lived there it is always interesting to stop by when we can. We went to the highest rated restaurant on Tripadvisor, only to discover someone in Pennsylvania is doing a poor job of rating, because it wasn’t good, but at least before we went we stopped at the Four Seasons Microbrewery, which was excellent.  Our hotel in Latrobe had a nice little Arnold Palmer display of old golf equipment.

2016 03 12 284 Latrobe PA.jpg

The next day we drove into Pittsburgh for a couple of Roadside America sights, starting with a McDonald’s in Irwin that was the birthplace of the Big Mac, complete with a mini McDonald’s museum. From there we went down to the South Side to see Fredasaurus Rex, a fiberglass dinosaur decked out like Fred Rogers. Also in Pittsburgh was a collection of quirky looking musicians sculptures, a growing vertical garden up the side of a skyscraper, and a randomly place 10′ pole at a 60 degree angle with little people glued to the top of it at Carnegie Mellon University. With all of those engineers you think they could get it level.

2016 03 13 22 Pittsburgh.jpg

The highlight of our morning in Pittsburgh was a stop at Bicycle Heaven. Founded in 1996 by someone who found a bike in a junk pile, he started selling used bikes and collecting vintage ones, ending up with over 3000 bike scattered in a number of garages. In 2011 he took over an old industrial building on Pittsburgh’s northside, and now it is one of the largest bicycle museums in the world.

We roamed the multiple levels of bikes stuffed absolutely everywhere. Interspersed with the bikes were various collections or art works made out of bike parts, including a chain of gear shifters. One room was full of tires and inner tubes, the walls covered in forks and seats. They even had a day glo room where all of the bikes and parts were painted in day glo paint lit up by black light.

The collection featured a number of bikes with advertising from various companies; Oreo Cookie Bikes, Volkswagen, Rolling Rock, and a Pittsburgh Steelers bike. The latter was in a large display of Pittsburgh sport memorabilia including nearly 100 bobble heads, statues and photos. A stop at Bicycle Heaven is very highly recommended.

2016 03 13 111 Pittsburgh Bicycle Heaven.jpg

Not far from Bicycle Heaven is Randyland, in the Mexican War Streets area of the northside. Randyland is an explosion of color in a courtyard and sides of some old row houses. He purchased a number of the abandoned buildings in 1996 to start Randyland. According to an article on Randy, he is sort of like Mister Rogers on speed. Unfortunately Randy was out the day we were there, but a volunteer was hanging around and let us in.

One complete wall is a 40 foot high mural with dinosaurs, butterflies, giant ladybugs, waterfalls, mountains, two moons, a castle, and birds. There are planters made from sewer pipes; plastic pink flamingos and parrots amid the banana trees; old metal lawn chairs hang from a fire escape, and mannequins just hanging around.

2016 03 13 204 Pittsburgh Randyland.jpg

The entire place is painted in bright colors, as though a giant PPG can puked over the entire place. Having seen this neighborhood in the old days, it has taken a bright turn for the better with Randyland.

Before we left town though we stopped by Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill. If you are a music fan, and have any appreciation at all of records you must go to Jerry’s at least once. Jerry, who used to bear an amazing resemblence to Jerry Garcia, has the upper floor of a strip of businesses. The building must be strong because there are nearly a million records in stacks and stacks of shelves. We were lucky on this day as Jerry was in the house, even posing for a picture. But alas it is time to leave the Burgh.

A scenic route home took us through Steubenville to find a Dean Martin mural, amazingly (and sadly) painted on the side of a Kroger store. How can you paint a mural of arguably the coolest person ever from Ohio on the side of a damn grocery  store? We moved on to another ‘cool Ohioan’ landmark, Clark Gable’s childhood home in Cadiz, but it was closed.

2016 03 13 244 Steubenville.jpg

Our last stop home was in the tiny little town of Peoli, home of Cy Young’s eternal resting spot. His grave is adorned with old baseballs people leave as a tribute. We stood in the drizzle admiring this as the Amish buggies would roll by. I could only wonder what those people think of some crazy people standing in a cemetery looking at a headstone full of baseballs.

2016 03 13 254 Peoli OH.jpg

 

 

Plain City, OH – January 2016 – Phoenix Bats

Finding yet another relatively unknown tour option in Central Ohio, we spent an hour visiting the Phoenix Bats in an industrial park in Plain City. Located northwest of Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix Bats has been in business for 20 years. It turns out if you have enough money to buy a high end lathe, the skill to choose the correct wood, marketing to convince up and coming players to sign on to use them, you too can become a Major League Baseball bat maker.

In the classic case of starting out in a garage the founder did exactly that, making bats for friends. They have been approved for use in the majors since 2000.

Arriving in the small light industrial park and parking outside, you arrive in a small showroom that was packed with a number of little league players and their parents and siblings the day we were there.

2016 01 18 Plain City OH Phoenix Baseball Bat Factory 20.jpg

 

 

The tour starts in the office area where the tech showed us how he designs the bats using a CAD system. From there we proceeded out to the area around the lathe, which takes a ‘blank’ and cuts it down to the correct bat in 60 seconds, making a couple of passes. From there it is sent to the finishing area where the varnish and/or paint is applied.

2016 01 18 Plain City OH Phoenix Baseball Bat Factory 9.jpg

 

It is great that a small niche company can make it in a business against the big guys, but also in that it is a long fly ball from home. Having always enjoyed baseball, and the smell of fresh cut wood, this place gives you both making it a great stop.