Hall of Fame recap – Saturday autographs

31 07 2016

A couple of days ago I posted about the morning at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  That was the only time we actually went into the museum during the weekend.  As I mentioned – that went to lunch time when we went and grabbed lunch at Doubleday Cafe (my favorite restaurant in Cooperstown).

Doubleday Cafe

After that, I was going to get a few autographs.  I started off with Ken Griffey Sr.  It seemed like a good idea on the weekend his son goes in.  I had him sign a ball and put “1980 AS MVP”.  Senior was signing at the shop where Pete Rose always signs on this weekend, and all I can say is that it wasn’t a great experience.  Griffey, Tony Perez and Rose were all there.  Griffey basically refused to acknowledge people who paid to get his autograph.  Almost every guy who has signed gives you a smile or something – he just didn’t want to talk to anybody.  There was some kind of mixup where he maybe wasn’t supposed to do an inscription, but the ticket guy had said it was $10 extra (which is what I paid).  I wonder if he had some kind of agreement with Rose where he had to sign but didn’t want to.  Or had some issue with the promoter.  I would understand why he wouldn’t want to do an autograph thing that weekend – his son didn’t and I get spending that with family.  Anyways, like I said he was in some kind of a pissy mood and it wasn’t a good experience.  I wish I hadn’t paid for an autograph in that situation.  My wife was with me and she thought it was weird, so it wasn’t just me.

signing - Griffey Sr

The Hit King gave me a wink on the way out – I was decked up in Reds gear – so on some level Pete went up a notch in my book.  I don’t agree with a lot of what Pete has done, but I always he does realize the importance of fans.

The other 3 autographs I got were much better experiences.  I collect autographs of players who are members of the 500 home run, 3,000 hit, or 300 win clubs.  Someday I want to put them all in a table of something where I can display them.  I’ve still got a number of living players left, so I get them when I can – a few a year.  This is the event where I pick some up for 2016!  All the autographs were at the MAB Celebrity Services event at Tunnicliff Inn.

Tunnicliff Inn - the pit

First up was Dave Winfield.  I was telling a few buddies on a Whats app conversation I was going to get his autograph, and a few were adamant he’s the best athlete of all time.  I would go Bo Jackson, but I get the point – drafted in the 3 major North American sports, and making the HOF in one of them – certainly gets you there.  Winfield was very nice; I didn’t chat with him for very long, but I did mention the point my friends had and he chuckled.  He was friendly.

signing - Winfield

Next up was Steve Carlton.  He didn’t have too bad of a line, though I don’t think he does a lot of shows like this so I was glad to get his autograph.  Carlton was also very nice – I actually couldn’t remember his strikeout total and he kind of chuckled.  I’ve read he didn’t get along with the media, but he was friendly too.  I walked by Johnny Bench on the way out, and he gave me a “Go Reds”.

signing - Carlton

Last up for me was Rod Carew, whose line was very long.  He’s had some health issues, and is eventually going to need a heart transplant.  I was surprised he was signing, but I wished him luck with his health – he was very friendly as well though his line was so long I pretty much got my auto, shook his hand and left.

signing - Carew

So that was the autographs for the day.  One thing I’ll note – we got a great place for the weekend.  We rented a room that was part of a 3 bedroom house called the “1797 house”.  I thought originally that had something to do with the address, but my wife quickly pointed out it was built in 1797.  So it wasn’t what I’d call up-to-date amenities, but it worked.  It was a block from Main Street, on the same block that the Hall is on Main Street, so I could have hit the Tunnicliff Inn with a 7-iron and the Hall with a driver from my house.  Don’t worry, I left the golf clubs at home 🙂

This was helpful – I could take the balls I got autographed back to our room in between.  If my wife bought a shirt for the kids, she could do the same.  If we wanted to run out and grab waters or Gatorade – or Advil for the hangovers – it was easy.  This level of convenience was invaluable.

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Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #13 – Cooperstown Brewing Company

30 07 2016

I did a post on Ommegang last week, but we attended one other Cooperstown brewery while there.  For the next few weeks, I plan on doing a Cooperstown beer, since I’ve now had quite a few that are “baseball related”.  This is the last brewery I’ll do for a while, but it fits because we went here right after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

CBC sign

Establishment:  Cooperstown Brewing Company

Ballpark:  Doubleday Field, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Dreams Park in Cooperstown

Location:  110 River Street, Milford, NY 13807 – about 6 miles south of the Hall of Fame

CBC building

It’s really close to Ommegang, just a few minutes south.

Beers served:  They have 6 or 7 beers on tap at any given time.  They have a good variety – the flagship is Old Slugger Pale Ale, but they have an IPA (Back Yard), an English Golden Ale (Nine Man), and a Porter (Bench Warmer) that are always on tap. When I was there they had the following special brews:

  • Induction Ale – a Rye IPA that was available everywhere in Cooperstown and I had a few times (but not at the brewery) – it was very good
  • Pride of Milford – an English Strong Ale
  • Bambino Amber – an Amber Ale

CBC 9 man 6 pack

Menu (if applicable):  They don’t serve food, however there’s a food truck – Pig Dog Food Truck – right there on site that has solid food.  We were eating somewhere else that night, but we did get fried pickles.

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?  All their beers are baseball themed; they are built around the idea that a brewery around Cooperstown should focus on the baseball part of the town.  They also sponsor the Binghamton Mets.

Description:  CBC actually over 20 years ago in 1995.  I had a few of their beers when I went to Cooperstown in 2009.  The original owner sold the business to Butternuts Beer & Ale in 2011, but it was shut down in late 2013.  Northern Eagle Beverages bought it in 2014 and reopened it shortly thereafter.

Today it’s a small but fun place to hangout.  You can play cornhole (we did), get a dog from the Pig Dog food truck, and buy plenty of their beers on tap or to go.  If you like beer and you’re going to Cooperstown, I’d recommend stopping here.

CBC Benchwarmer porter





Hall of Fame recap – Saturday at the Hall

28 07 2016

So I finally got back home and now have the the time to do a little posting on my trip to Cooperstown.  For reference, here was the timeline my wife and I had:

  • Thursday – Flew in to Newark, hung around Hoboken and Manhattan
    • Fiore’s deli for “beef & mutz” for lunch – if anyone has had it, you know what I’m talking about
    • Pony Bar for a craft beer or two after walking around Times Square
    • Stayed with a friend in New Jersey
  • Friday – drive to Cooperstown
    • Ommegang Brewery
    • Kayaking in the afternoon
    • Check in to the house/apartment we rented
    • Dinner at Cooley’s Stone House Tavern
  • Saturday
    • Visit the Hall of Fame in the morning
    • Lunch at Doubleday cafe
    • Got a few autographs at the MAB Celebrity Services event at Tunnicliff Inn
    • Spink/Frick awards presentation
    • Hall of Fame Parade of Legends
    • Dinner at Mel’s 22
  • Sunday
    • Hall of Fame Induction
    • Cooperstown Brewing Co.
    • Dinner at Toscana Italian
  • Monday
    • Legends of the Game roundtable with the 2 new HOF-ers
    • Howe Caverns

After Monday, I dropped my wife off at Albany and went on a “beer pilgrimage” trip in Vermont and Western, MA.  Not really the scope of this blog, but I’ll just say it was a lot of fun, though I’m happy to be back and maybe get some rest from my vacation 🙂

Today is about the first part of Saturday, but before I get to that, I want to talk about Friday kayaking.  We went to a place on the Susquehanna River, about 10 minutes south of Ommegang, and you can kayak to Goodyear Lake.  It’s beautiful, as the pictures below show.

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Saturday is the biggest day for getting autographs, but most of that happens in the afternoon.  We woke up and got breakfast from the local pastry shop.  Cooperstown blocks off the main street for this weekend – which makes getting around much easier.  After gobbling up our donuts & croissants, we went to the Hall of Fame at about 9:30 – I think it had been open since 8 – and walked around where we could.

The first thing we did was go check out the special exhibit for each of the two new inductees.  To my approval – baseball cards are prominent in this display!  They had a blowup of 12 cards for each player.  I really like the inclusion of the 1994 Collector’s Choice painted checklists for both guys, but I think they really missed out not having the 89 UD Griffey.

Griffey cards in display

And partially missed out by not having the 1992 Bowman Piazza.

Piazza cards next to display

But that aside, just having baseball cards on here was really cool.  Piazza’s in-case display had some baseball cards as well.  They had 3 cards from 1998 where he was on the Dodgers, Marlins and Mets all within a week.

Piazza cards in display

They also had a ball from each of the no-hitters he caught.

Piazza no hit bottles

Here’s Griffey’s display:

Griffey display

The have a card in his – it’s from 1991 Score (lower left).  My favorite thing from his display was his MVP.

Griffey MVP

Here’s the spot waiting for their plaques.  It was too busy for me to stay around to see them after that.

Empty plaque

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the Hall, because I’ve been there twice before – and I’ve included pictures of it on this blog.  Most of the exhibits are the same (though the stuff they put in them rotates).

The one exhibit that was new this time around was called “Today’s Game”.  It focuses on the last 40 years and the changes in the game throughout the ’70s, ’80s, 90s and current century.  I’m really glad they did an exhibit like this.  If you’re in town visiting the Hall, you’re obviously a baseball fan.  And you probably either aren’t a fan from the 50’s and 60’s, or if you are old enough, you are also a fan of the game since then.  So it’s relatable to just about everybody.  There are interactive polls – do you think Pete Rose should be in the Hall? – and playable highlights.

HOF - replay highlights

This Tom Seaver painting by Andy Warhol is one of the first things you see in the exhibit.  Seaver was not at the Hall for this weekend.  Kind of sad if you ask me – Piazza was joining him as the 2nd Met to make it.  I’ve read that it just boils down to price for him.  I hope that’s not the case.

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There were a lot of baseball cards in these exhibits.  Here’s the 1974 Topps Senators/ Padres situation explained.

HOF - Padres Senators 1974 Topps

They had a baseball card display for the first all-black lineup in 1971.  The Hall used 1972 and 1971 cards to show this off.

HOF - first all-black starting lineup

They even had the book “House of Cards” about Upper Deck!  There’s the 1989 UD Griffey card!

HOF - house of cards

Finally, here was a cool piece of art – Phil Niekro’s uniform made out of cut-up baseball cards.

HOF - Niekro bb card jersey

A few other things I appreciated – they had a uniform and the DJ’s army hat from the failed Disco Demolition Day in Comiskey back in the 70’s.

HOF - Disco Demolition

And they had the display case for MLB ice cream cup hats that were handed out at Dairy Queen (and possibly) other places back when I was a kid.  My dad got a guy from DQ to give us the display and me and my brother would collect the hats.  I’ve got to say this was, for me personally, the coolest new thing I saw in the Hall just because it brought back good memories of my dad, my brother and me.

HOF - ice cream caps

That’s about it for the Hall.  After we finished there, we hit up Doubleday Cafe.  If there was one restaurant I’d recommend in Cooperstown – it’s that.  They have standard fare, but their food is top-notch and I love the environment.

Tomorrow or later tonight I’ll cover the rest of what we did Saturday.





Completed insert set – 2013 Topps Update Franchise Forerunners

27 07 2016

I said a few times that I’m catching up on these completed insert sets.  And I am.  But you wouldn’t think it on this one – I finished it up almost 2 years ago and am just not getting to the post.  It’s a quick one, though.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  “10 dual-subject cards pairing current rookies with one of their franchise’s most famous rookies from the past”.  At least, that’s what the sell sheet says.  But that’s not really what Topps did – as I’ll show.

Set composition:  10 cards, 1:8 (2013 Topps Update)

Hall of Famers:  5 – Sandy Koufax, Cal Ripken, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson

How I put the set together:

  • 5 cards from my HTA Jumbo box
  • 3 cards from trades
  • 1 card from Sportlots
  • 1 card from COMC

Card that completed my set:  #FF5 – Wil Myers / Evan Longoria

2013 Topps Update Franchise Longoria Myers

I got this card from COMC on their Black Friday sale – in 2014.

Thoughts on the set:  It’s a good idea, but I don’t think the execution is great.  Out of all the Dodgers who have won Rookie of the Year – they pick Sandy Koufax and Matt Kemp?  Koufax had the greatest pitching stretch in history and Kemp was a great player when this set came out.  But with Jackie Robinson, Newcombe, Fernando, Piazza, Nomo – there’s just a bunch of better options.

At least the team was right there.  Nolan Ryan is paired with Yu Darvish, but the Texas Rangers didn’t even exist when he made his MLB debut.  Honestly, he’d have been a better pairing for Matt Harvey than David Wright (though Wright is one of the more correct pairings).

Basically, it’s an OK idea for a set but not executed correctly in a number of places.

Best card (my opinion):  #FF3 – Manny Machado / Cal Ripken

2013 Topps Franchise Forerunners - front

Unlike almost every other card – this one is perfect.

My Favorite Reds card:  There are none

2013 Topps Update Franchise Forerunners

2013 Topps Update Franchise Forerunners Stanton Fernandez





2016 Induction – Griffey

25 07 2016

Griffey HOF backward hat

Griffey spoke 2nd on Sunday.  I’ll say this, he wasn’t as eloquent as Piazza.  But it was still very powerful.  You could tell he was getting choked up by the moment.  I think fans are happy to put players on a pedestal – but only if they acknowledge how special that pedestal is.  Piazza did it in one way, Griffey in another.  At first, he had trouble getting through his points because he was so visibly moved.  I watched on TV when he got inducted to the Mariners Hall of Fame, and it was different.  There, he was in control.  Thankful, but he commanded his speech.  It was different for this event – he was clearly nervous and the 50,000 or so fans there often cheered him on when he was lost for words.

This is all to say I took it as a good thing.  Here’s a guy – who never looked nervous in center field or at the plate – get choked up about the HOF induction.  I can appreciate that.

He did one subtle thing that, combined with the nerves he showed, was kind of cool.  Most inductees wait til the end to get to their family.  Mike Piazza did it 10 minutes before Griffey.  I was at Rickey Henderson’s speech in 2009, and he was bummed because he got to the end and forgot to mention his family.  Griffey went to his family – his dad, his mom, his 3 kids, his wife – first thing.  It was a subtle difference from the norm that was, at the same time, hard to miss.  The only time I felt he was comfortable in his speech was when he was talking about his kids.  He seemed to want to get through the rest – the part about him.  I hope that came through on TV.  I have 2 kids, and I can respect that.

But he finished his speech up by pulling a hat from under the podium and putting it on backward.  Very cool.  I’ve read a couple of quotes from him where he didn’t always like the name “the Kid” because he got to a point where he had children and they were the kids – he didn’t feel like a kid any more.  But I think him doing the backward hat thing is acknowledging that so many of his fans associate that with him.  It’s one of the things that made him so endearing – it symbolized his youthful exuberance, and I thought it was a really cool move.

Side note – Griffey did and interview afterward with MLB Network.  I can’t wait to get home to watch the DVR of it, mostly because I’m apparently visible in the background.  I’m the guy with the Reds hat on backward – (again, I haven’t seen it so, “apparently”) everyone else was Seattle or NYM.

One other thing to note.  After Griffey did the MLB Network interview, I noticed a family waiting for him.  It wasn’t his family – and I was trying to figure out how they got the behind the ropes tickets that I couldn’t get 🙂

But the girl of the family turned around and she had a Reds #3 Jersey.  It had Marino on the back, and I realized who they were.  There was a lot of discussion about Piazza’s home run to win the first post-9/11 game.  And rightfully so.  Griffey had a story from that tragedy, too.  The Marino kids lost their father in the September 11, 2001 attacks.  He was a first respond firefighter who lost his life in the rescue operations.  He was a big Griffey fan, and their story was well-documented if you want to look it up.  Those kids probably miss their dad more than I could imagine, and I hope that whatever small tribute he brings them helps them to get peace.





2016 Hall of Fame induction – Piazza

24 07 2016

Piazza HOF speech

Two things.  First, I am having technical difficulties and I don’t know if I can get pictures up.  I may get them up later, but for now this is a post with “just words”.  Except for the photo above which is from someone with a better camera and a better credential than me.

Second, I’d hoped to post a bit more this weekend, but I kind of didn’t think through how busy a weekend in Cooperstown could be.  To set the stage – me and my wife came here sans the 2 kids.  Big thanks are going to my parents who drove up to Chicago and agreed to watch a loud, questioning 4-year old and a loud, physical 1-½ year old while my wife and I went to Manhattan, Bergen County, various breweries, a lake for kayaking, and, ultimately, Cooperstown.

We got to Cooperstown Friday evening, but this post is just about today, and just Piazza.  If I have time tomorrow, I’ll post about Saturday.  We stayed in a rental house 1 block from the Hall of Fame.  I can’t describe how awesome the location was.  The only better location would have been if they put us in a room on the 4th floor of the Hall of Fame (it’s only 3 floors).

My wife and I stayed out a bit too late last night, so we had to sleep it off.  I had to pick up a few things from around town in the morning.  And by the time we were both ready – it was 11:00.  We went uptown – a block away – and looked for “brunch”, which turned out to be a couple of hot dogs – the quickest thing.  I took the opportunity to sneak in a picture with Goose Gossage, who was doing a photo opp for a donation to the Cooperstown fire dept. You could get his auto for a price – I assume that went to him and promoters – but the photos were for a donation.  I would like to say, the Goose is just an all around friendly guy.  He joked with my wife – “oh, thanks for the hot dogs, I’m starving” – and was clearly happy to be there interacting with fans.  My wife wanted to know why he went by “Goose”, and he said it was from his rookie year because he stuck his neck out so far.  It was a really cool experience, and the fact that he was raising some money for a local group was neat.  I had one not-so-good experience on Saturday – this helped to go the other way.

From there we walked the mile to Clark Sports Center, where the induction is held.  I got the more expensive membership to the Hall of Fame to get guaranteed seats this year, but you still have to wait in a line.  Actually, the way it works – if you don’t get “tickets”, you can just sit/stand wherever, but everyone puts their folding chairs out the night before or early that morning and calls dibs.  It was nice to not have to do that, but I’d say when I go back – I’ll just figure out a way to get a folding chair there.  Griffey getting inducted was special, so it was worth it this year.  We could have arrived at 10AM and gotten the best of the ticketed seats – but unless you’re family, you aren’t gonna be that close anyways.

We found seats in the middle, and sat next to a father and son from Pittsburgh.  The best thing about coming to an induction weekend is swapping stories.  The guy’s wife had bought him tickets to this as soon as Junior got elected, and then found a room at the Best Western shortly thereafter.  He went with his dad while his wife watched their 2 kids back home – similar to my own story.  We had an hour to wait after we sat down, so it was cool to have a couple of people to trade stories with.

More takes on the fans – the guy in front of us had a spray bottle of water.  He kept spraying everyone around to help with the 90+ heat and humidity.  That was indicative of the overall festive mood.  Judging by jerseys and noise, I would say it was 35-40% Mariner fans, 30-35% Mets fans, 15% Reds fans, and 5% other.  The boo birds came out the 2 times MLB Network forced commercial break pauses in the ceremony – but people were mostly being tongue in cheek.

On to the speech.  The Piazza speech.  Piazza went first, and he knocked it out of the park.  He gave a really cool nod to Griffey in that he was honored to be inducted alongside him.  He sent a special shout out to Mike Schmidt (his favorite player growing up in Eastern PA) and Johnny Bench (whose catching HR he broke).  He went through his career, thanking everyone from Tommy LaSorda in LA to Bruce Bochy in San Diego – but at the end he went to his family.  He was choked up when he started talking about his father.

My wife and I have zero allegiance to Mike Piazza, other than he’s the other guy getting inducted on the same date as the baseball player we named our dog after.  But Piazza had done such a good job to that point, he got us both to tear up in the one-hundred-and-fifty degree (at least it felt like that) heat.  He said a lot of cool things about his family, but the last thing he said was “we made it dad”, and it just fit.  Baseball is often a game about fathers and sons, and his speech was most powerful at the moment he talked about his dad.  I don’t know how it came across on TV, but the guy was sincere and he won me over.

Tomorrow if I have time I’ll go over Griffey’s speech.  It was a different set of emotions – there was almost no way I wouldn’t think it was awesome because I’m biased.  But it was different and, to me at least, worth going over separately.





Saturdays Suds: Pubs near the Park #12 – Ommegang Brewery

23 07 2016

Yesterday was my first day in Cooperstown for this year’s Hall of Fame induction.  So before I get started – are their any bloggers who are going? If so – let me know, it would be cool to meet up.  I haven’t done too much baseball stuff yet – but we did see Al Leiter walking around town last night and Joe Torre was eating dinner at a restaurant nearby as well.

My parents have been gracious enough to drive up to Chicago to watch the kids while I go on this excursion to see enshrinement of my favorite player.  But my wife and I are doing a few other things while we’re here – not just Baseball Hall of Fame things.  We flew into New York on Thursday and went to Hoboken and Manhattan.  Yesterday we went kayaking at a lake nearby, and went to Ommegang Brewery for the first time.

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Establishment:  Brewery Ommegang

Ballpark:  Doubleday Field, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Dreams Park in Cooperstown

Location:  656 County Hwy 33, Cooperstown, NY 13326 – about 6 miles south of the Hall of Fame

Ommegang Brewery

Beers served:  At any given time, they’ll have about 10 Ommegang beers on tap.  Ommegang focuses on Belgian style ales, but have been doing some other things of late.  Their flagship beers are Witte (wheat ale), Rare Vos (amber ale), Hennepin (farmhouse saison), Abbey Ale (Belgian dubbel), Three Philosophers (Belgian Quadrupel), and Gnomegang (Blonde Ale).  When we went yesterday, they had a new Barrel-Aged Gnomegang that they’d just released.  Below is a typical logo from a 4-pack – Cooperstown Ale which I posted about a long time ago.

Ommegang Cooperstown Ale 4-pack

Menu (if applicable):  They have a moderately eclectic menu with anything from steak frites to chicken and waffles to Hog Wings.  We got a cheese board to split since we’d had a huge breakfast.

Is it baseball-themed?  Or is it just close to the ballpark?  For the most part, just close to the ballpark.  If you read their about us, they sometimes point out that they have nothing to do with baseball.  The area in upstate New York, like the northeast in general, has a long history of brewing. The Cooperstown Ale above does pay tribute to the shared history there.  If you go to the brew house, you will undoubtedly see some baseball fans.

Description:  Ommegang built their brewery in 1997 – nearly 20 years ago – so they were very early in the craft brewing excitement.  Their built on 136 acres of land where they grow hops, and were the first farmstead brewery built in the U.S. in over 100 years – there have been quite a few to follow as the craft beer movement grew.

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From my experience – this place really is beautiful and is worth going to just for that aspect.

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The brewery offers tours where you can hear about their meticulous process in detail.  We had planned on doing one but the timing didn’t work.  And honestly, just walking around the scenery was great   They’re a highly decorate brewery from an awards standpoint.  Belgian is a style not everyone likes, and while it’s not my favorite, I think most of their stuff tastes pretty damn good.