Archive for July, 2022
The Boys of Summer – Road Trip – Part 4 – Game 2 Surprises
In the afternoon, we headed to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. We were more than familiar with the route as it was located off the first base side of the ballpark. When we got to where the building was supposed to be, we instead found a construction area! There were no signs of a museum so I searched through my phone. We were at the correct address. I called the number for the museum. It was not operating because of the construction! The trip was not wasted as we checked out the menus and hours on several restaurants between the ballpark and hotel. We ended up eating again at Mac’s.
While waiting for the gates to open at Fluor Field, we noticed more frustrated women being sent back to cars with their purses. After all the walking at the park, I was thankful my rejection was the night before. While waiting to get the tickets scanned, I watch the woman in front of me. She had a clear bag the size of a backpack crammed full with several sunscreen tubes, juice boxes, baseballs, baseball caps and large bottle of hand sanitizer. The guy scanning waved her through. No problem going in! As for me, I had to empty my pockets!
As we started down the concourse, Rick had a Boxer sighting. The dog was running around the field and looked just like Jake when he was younger. By the time we got down there, he was by home plate playing with a brown dog and several of the workers. One of the guys on the field said he was a stray the team had adopted and named “Muda” like in Bermuda minus the “Ber.” Right on cue, Muda came closer to us and posed in a perfect stance. It was short-lived just as Jake’s are. Chasing after baseballs was much more fun for the pup.
Our seats were more towards home plate and right at the on-deck circle. The pitching for Bowling Green again stifled the team – even worse than the previous night. Greenville batters struck out ten times and mustered only five hits. Alex and Nick Yorke, a #3 prospect, were the only scores with a homerun each. The outcome of the game was brutal with Bowling Green over The Drive 13 – 2! I talked to Alex after the game and he thanked us for our support. Little did we know this would be the last time we would see him in a Drive uniform. Alex was promoted the next day to the AA Portland Seadogs! It was the perfect ending to a great mini-vacation!
The Boys of Summer – Road Trip – Part 3 – Taking in the Sights
The next morning the free “abbreviated” breakfast at the hotel didn’t look too exciting so we decided to try a place highly rated in our guide. Rather than ask for directions, I loaded the name in my phone and we proceeded on the route. It first took us in a big circle BACK to the hotel so we started over and discovered the same street had three different names! We climbed a couple of hills, crossed a bridge and the walk turned out to be 25 minutes instead of the 10 originally projected.
Breakfast was awesome at the Maple Street Biscuit Company. When you ordered, you had to give them the name of a song to call your order. Neither one of us could think of anything and finally I said, “On the road again.” I should have done, “Take me out to the ball game.” So, we’re sitting there among several families with baseball players (There was a college tournament in town.) and we hear, “On the road again, here’s your juice!” Then 5 minutes later, “On the road again, here’s the rest of your order.” We laughed all during our meal at some of the songs people picked. I had a waffle that was great and my order of bacon was 9 pieces (although menu showed 6!)!! The OJ was fresh-squeezed. We were almost finished and we hear, “On the road again, your order is ready!” A group of kids with a chaperon close to our age answered to that one.
After breakfast, we walked along Main St and went into several shops. It reminded me of my layovers in Germany. The park entrance was on Main St and we could see our hotel a block away. We discovered we had made a huge circle around town getting to breakfast. The falls were beautiful and despite signs everywhere about not going in the river or walking on rocks, people were doing it. Furman College was adjacent to the park and several of their buildings overlooked the park. We walked hills and several bridges and were entertained by a retriever out in the water playing fetch with his owner on the shore. As we were heading out of the park, a tour group rode by us on two-wheeled bikes. “Please stay on the trail. There are snakes in the park. The poisonous ones are in the river,” the tour guide announced. My eyes were like saucers!
To be continued
The Boys of Summer – Road Trip – Part 2 – Game 1
And then began saga number two! It was 15 mins after the gates had opened. One of the workers stopped me – “You can’t take that purse in; it’s oversized.” I had already checked their site for purse requirements, BUT they had changed the size that morning!!! “You can’t come in with the purse. You need to take it to your car.” “We walked here! Are you saying I have to walk back to the hotel?!?!?!?” “Yes. The purse is too big.” (It was 4″x6″ and was previously allowed!) Only a small clutch 3″ x 5″ – basically a wallet or clear bag now allowed! I could only think of all my years as a flight attendant and in management accommodating customers under extenuating circumstances – like allowing a small window for a major change until word got out. Times have changed. I started a quick walk passing Amy enroute quickly telling her what was happening. Rick and I weaved through fans coming to the game for the half mile walk back to the hotel. Rick sat on a bench a block from the hotel while I hiked up a small hill and around the corner. It was one of those crazy elevators where you had to swipe with your room key to go to your floor. Third time was a charm. I crammed my phone, room key, map of city, paper ticket sheet (in case I couldn’t retrieve the tickets off phone the way my luck was running), tiny hand sanitizer bottle, Kleenex in pockets (Thank God I had four pockets! Obviously, the person who made the rule was male and didn’t know the majority of ladies pants come with one pocket if one is lucky!) and stuck my credit card/ID in a tiny holder on a Mudcats lanyard I wear at work and had thankfully thrown in the suitcase! There was no room left for the Canon SureShot camera which jams half the time anyway. As I was leaving the hotel, the valet guy who knew we had gone to ballpark asked why I was back. I quickly told him about the bag deal and suggested that he alert others going. He said, “WOW! That’s ridiculous! What’s a girl supposed to do with a tampon!?” I started laughing and said — “Have no clue! It’s been 22 years!!” And off I went!
Rick and I got back to ballpark with 9 mins to spare. They were still turning away women!! Several had Uber’d and they were very unhappy!! It was a beautiful summer evening for a ballgame. Our $11 seats were behind the dugout so I could yell at the players in the on-deck circle. Modeled after Fenway Park, a 30-foot replica of the “”Green Monster” (pronouced “Monstah” by diehards) was past leftfield along with a hand-operated scoreboard. Sweet Caroline was sung by the fans in the middle of the 8th inning. It was just as if we were at Fenway Park in Boston. Alex smacked a double to the base of the “Green Monster.” That was the biggest action of the game and sadly the team only had two hits losing 4 – 0 to Bowling Green. We met up with Alex after the game and Amy took my picture with him. He grinned and said, “I like your shirt.” I was wearing my Boston Red Sox Ortiz shirt.
The Boys of Summer – Road Trip – Part 1 – The Journey Begins
With the Carolina Mudcats team away two weeks straight, where else would someone like me go for a mini-vacation but a ballpark! Greenville South Carolina had been on my radar as it was home to the Boston Red Sox High-A team The Drive and it was less than a five-hour car trip – all interstate. According to Brian Hopkins, a scout for the Cardinals, tree-lined city streets, Reedy River Falls and Fluor Field, home to the team, were must-sees and all within walking distance of the downtown hotels. Icing on the cake was one of our former Mudcats had been traded to Boston in the offseason and was playing for The Drive – Alex Binelas.
Of course, downtown hotels don’t come cheap, but after reflecting on our limitations going anywhere during COVID, it was an easy sell. I was able to get a lower rate thanks to being a Hilton member, a “senior” and agreeing to a non-refundable status for cancellation less than a week out. The location of the Hampton Inn River Place was perfect – steps away from the falls, restaurants, historic district and a half a mile from the ballpark. I made the reservation while praying for good weather and Alex not being promoted.
As with almost everything I do, there is usually some type of saga to make things interesting. This mini-vacation was no exception. We got the car loaded up with the luggage, cooler with lunch, two-rev’ed up Boxers and their stuff for boarding. I was making one last check of lights and locks and I hear expletives coming from the garage. It must be Jake misbehaving I told myself as I had visions of the quilt stuffing, he tried to eat on the way to Santa a few years ago. Not that lucky. My battery was dead! We unloaded the dogs and then debated if it was faster to take Rick’s gas-guzzler or try to jump the car and then get the battery replaced at the auto parts place. Rick opted to change clothes, remove the old battery, drive to Auto Zone for a new battery, drive home, install the new battery, change clothes again and get all loaded up again. Amazingly, we were under way only an hour and a half later. I mumbled something about why a car with so many bells and whistles doesn’t have an indicator to let one know the battery is low. “It does. The car will start and then die a few times,” Rick tells me. “Oh.” I almost didn’t dare tell him that it did exactly that the day before. I should have been allowed to take Auto Mechanics in High School instead of stupid Home Economics learning (not) cooking and sewing!
When we arrived in Greenville, downtown was exactly as Brian described, except he left off the part about one-way streets and streets with multiple names! Between the car GPS and my Smartphone, we did finally find the hotel despite each offering a different way. We had an hour to kill before heading out to early dinner. Rick looked for restaurant listings while I watched General Hospital. Between the hotel and ballpark were several restaurants but most didn’t open until 5. In the Places to Go booklet, Rick found a recommended BBQ called Mac’s Speed Shop a block from the ballpark. We could eat and go straight to the game.
Getting there was easy. The hotel was a block off and a half off Main St. We passed through the historic district and saw several restaurants all closed until 5PM. Once at Mac’s, we were seated across from the bar at a high table with high seats. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Rick exclaimed. I looked at him and asked what was wrong. On our tabletop was a large QR square to scan for the menu. I was saving my battery for game pictures and videos; Rick – well, he still insists on having his flip phone. Two minutes later we were perusing a real menu as were most patrons seated after us. When will restaurants understand that they will sell a lot more food and drinks if people didn’t have to squint at their phones while scrolling up and down?
As we were waiting on our food, I spotted a guy at the bar wearing an Alex Binelas Louisville jersey. I texted Alex’s mom Amy and said, “There’s a guy at the restaurant we’re at. He’s wearing an Alex Binelas jersey.” (Last August Louisville sensation Binelas who had been drafted the month before, was promoted from the rookie league to the Mudcats. Rick and I had met Amy when she, husband Pete and daughter Athena came from Wisconsin to see Alex play in his first minor league games. Getting to know the families of the players is one of my favorite parts of my job in Guest Relations.) Amy answered my text – “That’s Bobby! Alex’s best friend!” It turned out that Bobby was there with them eating out on the patio. We visited briefly before Rick and I headed across to the street to the ballpark.
To be continued