Posts Tagged With: baseball

A Cold Day for Clemson Baseball in Rhode Island

A Cold Day for Clemson Baseball in Rhode Island (and an Excellent Day for Gamecock Basketball in New York City)

Yesterday, March 24, the fourth day of Spring, I drove to Kingston, Rhode Island, from New Canaan, Connecticut, to watch Clemson University play Boston College in baseball. Boston College’s home field was a mess, we were told, so the game was moved to the University of Rhode Island.

As a Clemson fan and a baseball fan, this was close enough for me, a two-hour drive, each direction. I took the day off and headed up I-95 to watch a 1 p.m. game. We were having a warm spell, about 39 degrees with a wind chill making it 30ish. I wore long underwear, a beautiful orange and white checked Clemson Tiger Paw shirt nobody ever saw, a pullover Clemson jacket, an L. L. Bean outer coat, a Scottish wool scarf with some orange in it, a Clemson baseball hat, a Clemson stocking cap, and some New England rated winter gloves. It was not enough.

The University of Rhode Island has 16,000 students compared to Clemson’s 21,000. The town of Kingston is much smaller than Clemson, however. You must drive on a sorry two-lane road to get there. Intended ironically, considering the size of the state, the campus theme was BIG, as in “Think Big.”

My buddy Larry Abernathy, who was Mayor of Clemson for 28 years, went with Clemson City Council members to other small towns (with major Universities) around the US to compare town and gown experiences. I’m glad he never wasted time in Kingston. Clemson does town-and-gown about as well possible, thanks to a good mayor and fine Clemson Presidents, especially R. C. Edwards, Jim Barker and Jim Clements.

The baseball game was scheduled for one p.m. but was mysteriously postponed for an hour because of weather. So I walked around the hilly Rhode Island campus to get in a three-mile walk. Much smaller campus than Clemson, but with a very traditional quadrangle and granite buildings. A few modern buildings. Nothing very exciting. Not very Big.

The baseball “stadium” was a joke, not Big, so I can’t imagine how bad the Boston College field must be to have the game transferred to Kingston. The smallest high schools in South Carolina have more seating. The field was green and nice enough, but one small set of movable aluminum stands was all that existed for the fans. A few brought their own folding chairs and the rest of us stood and walked around to stay warm.

When the sleet finally started (yes, you read that correctly) at 2 p.m., the umpires said, “Play ball,” and the game was on. Clemson is the better team, ranked number six in the nation right now. The collegiate national player of the year, Seth Beer, is an outfielder for Clemson. I met his parents who were there in the cold to cheer their son and Clemson. We had two runs after four batters. After two innings we had five runs. Final score was 8-2. Attendance was announced as 107 but that may have included both teams.

After the game, I found a beautiful, old, local bookstore and bought a couple of John D. MacDonald novels, then drove to the coast, just a few miles away, for some seafood. The bookstore owner had called ahead for me to make sure her favorite restaurant was open: Champlin’s. It was. This is a fish-camp, picnic-table type establishment, and, since March is off-season, I had the entire place to myself. I watched the fish and lobster boats return to the Galilee Port in Narragansett. I ordered fried oysters and fried scallops, more grease than I’ve had in six months. I paid for it on the two-hour drive home with a tummy that was desperately unhappy.

When I retuned to my apartment, my day ended with watching the University of South Carolina Gamecocks obliterate the Baylor Bears. It was a nice ending to a cold winter New England day.

Categories: Baseball, Holiday, Humor, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I believe…

I believe…

…America will still be here when I die.

…Baseball is a great game.

…Books are important.

…Deserts and wildernesses exist.

…Easter will arrive this spring as usual.

…Education is better than ignorance.

…Friends are worth the effort.

…God is good. The Universe is good. Life is good.

…Humor is a gift.

…I will love my family and they will love me—forever.

…Life is a pilgrimage.

…Listening is almost always better than talking.

…Love and Justice are bottom line values.

…My cat is a bundle of fun.

…Progress is more realistic than perfection.

…Religious Doctrine is overrated.

…There is a time and season for all things.

…Waterfalls are beautiful.

Marion D. Aldridge


Categories: Baseball, Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor, Lists/Top Ten | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I Loved High School

These days, it’s cool for people to say they hated their high school years. They will often add that the other students didn’t like them and they didn’t like the other students. Nothing could be further from my experience.

High school was a feast of football and basketball games, sock hops, field trips, proms, cheerleaders and summer camps.

At North Augusta High School, graduating in 1965, we told bad jokes when we were dissecting frogs, and made bad rhymes when we discovered limericks. We enjoyed some quality educators who made learning fun.

I also remember the day we all hid in a closet to confuse our physics professor who was late to class. When we weren’t there, he turned around and left. Of course, even when he wasn’t late, he was confused. Terry Bodiford and I played spitball basketball during his class. That could explain my grades in that class.

I remember the coach whose most memorable counsel was, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” During the Cuban Missile Crisis, those of us at baseball practice started drilling with our bats. Not long after, each of us has an exact memory of where we were when we heard President Kennedy had been shot.

High school was a time of discovery, some of which happened in the classrooms, but more took place in the hallways, on ball fields, in locker rooms, and on afternoons and weekends.

Happy Days!

Categories: Baseball, Family, Football, South Carolina | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Take Me Out to the Ball Game


During my childhood, the three great influences of my world were family, church and sports, in varying order, depending on the season and the day of the week. The first open rebellion of a lot of seventh-graders was sneaking portable radios into school so we could listen to the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and the Pirates.

Not having money for new bats and balls, we fixed what we had with electrical tape until the abused equipment could be repaired no longer. If we were alone, we hit rocks with a stick.

The boys in our community played pick-up games. We created a baseball diamond in the woods behind our house. We also played in organized leagues from about the sixth grade until high school graduation. I was a catcher.

We loved baseball cards. We played indoor games with them, hitting what amounted to a spitball with our favorite player’s card. We bent a lot of cardboard that way. We put the cards in the spokes of our bicycles to hear the noise the made. We destroyed a lot of future income that way.

No Major League team had made its way South yet, so everybody picked a random team and said they were his favorites. Always for the underdog, I pulled for the Washington Senators. I read the box scores every morning. Harmon Killebrew was my hero. Augusta had a minor league team, a Detroit Tigers affiliate, and I remember going to their games a few times.

My favorite baseball these days is the college variety. Watching the Clemson Tigers on a spring afternoon feels pretty close to heaven. I get over to a few Atlanta Braves games most years, and when I travel to a Major League city, I try to see a game, thirteen cities so far. I spent a week at Spring Training one year. I’ve been to Cooperstown twice. I’ve been to one All-Star game and to zero World Series games. That could be on my bucket list. But it’s October and I expect to be in front of the television set every night for the next few days watching San Francisco battle Kansas City.

Batter up!


Categories: Baseball, Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Past, Present, Future


There is value in paying attention to the past, living in the present and anticipating the future. 

The New Year is a good time to look forward.  Here are some of my expectations and hopes:

This month, this week, Downton Abbey begins a new season.  Just a few days after that, Greg Maddux should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Next month, I will have been retired for a full year.  How will I celebrate?  No plans yet…

In March, Ted Godfrey, Marty Kearse and I get together for our annual “Ho” weekend—just the guys!

In 4 months, Christians celebrate Easter.  I also enjoy the annual semi-religious rite of the Masters Golf Tournament.  My cousin Patsy Pennington makes sure some of the Aldridges get together for supper in Augusta at her home at least one day that week.  In April, we will smell spring flowers.  Hummingbirds will begin to arrive in South Carolina. 

In May, the fish will be biting in the farm ponds around Batesburg.

June is the season for nuptials.  Jenna and Thorne were married in June. This year Sally and I look forward to June wedding trips to Beaufort and Memphis.

In 7 months, we reach the peak of peach season in South Carolina.  July 4 weekend is always a Big Deal with Sally’s birthday, Julie and Tom’s anniversary on the 3rd, followed by Hillbilly Day in Mountain Rest, SC, to celebrate our nation’s freedom. 

In August, Sally and I will take a Silver Seas cruise with Randy and Diana Wright to Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Sweden.

September:  Football Season!

October:  The smell of a bonfire in front of the Oconee County Mountain House every fall.  When the time comes, distribute my ashes somewhere nearby in either the Chauga or Chattooga Rivers.  Of course, October also brings the World Series!

November:  Thanksgiving with the Craig Clan.

December:  Christmas—All our family will be home for Christmas in 2014!  Yay!

Of course, the next twelve months will also bring other surprises, both pleasant and less so.  Every year there are illnesses, storms, economic frustrations and funerals.  But, even in the midst of pain, life is full of grace.


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Personal Note: Retirement


Only five months into retirement, I am no expert on the subject.  In fact, when you only do something once, you are bound to make mistakes.  Metaphorically, the pavement ended.  I was moving into very unfamiliar territory.  Other people have traveled there, but it was all strange to me.


When Sally, Julie and I moved into our new home about ten years ago, we bought four Rubber Maid storage units, tall cabinets where you keep fertilizer, tools, Christmas ornaments, etc.  It took me three hours to assemble the first one, two and a half hours to assemble the second one, only 20 minutes to assemble the third, and 15 minutes to assemble the fourth.  That’s a steep learning curve!


Nobody in my organization called me in five years or two years before retirement and said, “Here is what you can expect.  Start planning now.”  I was the boss.  I was on my own.  I asked lots of people lots of questions, and received very few answers.


Chipper Jones, the great Atlanta Braves third baseman, retired about the same time I did.  He will go into the baseball Hall of Fame.  He played Major League Baseball for 19 years.  Of course, he had been playing ball for ten or twelve years before that as a child and then as a teenager. 


The Braves retired his number.  Chipper was quoted as saying, “I was done.” 


I understand that.  By the time I reached my 66th birthday, I was done.  I had been earning an income for over 50 years.  I want to continue to contribute to the world we live in, but I was ready for a transition.  Chipper feels that a year away from baseball will help him “rekindle the flame.”  I understand.  Flames die down, naturally.  After some nostalgia on Opening Day, he said, “I woke up the next morning and was thrilled that I didn’t have to go to the ballpark.”


I have just written the sum total of all Chipper Jones and I probably have in common.  But he nailed it for me when he described his retirement.


Like Chipper, I had one of the best jobs in the world these past 15 years.  Chipper was paid to play baseball.  I was paid to initiate worthwhile projects with people who valued ideals such as freedom, integrity, grace, faith, courage, compassion, hope.  It was, you could say, a heavenly job.  I loved what I did.


Now, however, I am glad to be retired.  The pavement ended.  That’s okay with me.  I like narrow paths in the woods.


Categories: Baseball, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY (Part 2)

            I arrived in Cooperstown about 4 p.m., understanding from all their publicity that the Hall of Fame closed at 5 p.m.  I anticipated a quick hour-long tour on my first afternoon, then Imagegoing back the next day for as long as I desired.  But it was early June, and the Hall of Fame had just begun their summer hours and were open until 9 p.m.  Since I am a dues-paying member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, I got in free, and began my visit.


            First stop was the Hall of Fame itself, the sanctuary where the plaques honoring those who are elected are displayed. One misunderstanding that was settled for me on my first trip to Cooperstown revolved around this question:  “How do they keep from mentioning noteworthy players who have not been enshrined in the Hall?”  Pete Rose, for example, has more hits than anyone else in the history of baseball.  How do they ignore someone like that?  The answer is that Pete Rose’s name and achievements are throughout the museum section of the Hall of Fame building.  He simply does not have a plaque or a place of honor in the primary Gallery or Shrine.  Same with South Carolina’s Shoeless Joe Jackson:  No plaque on the wall.


            On my two trips to Cooperstown, I enjoyed looking for the plaques of my favorite players when I was a kid:  Harmon Killebrew, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, and others from that era.  I collected their baseball cards in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, great days in America’s national pastime, and in my young innocent life.


            The museum’s displays change with some frequency, so there is always something new to see, including, this year, exhibitions about Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and even Shoeless Joe Jackson. 


            Being a serious fan of Greg Maddux, I was happy to see how often his name and his artifacts had already found their way into the museum’s displays.  I expect him to be elected and enshrined into the Hall of Fame this year, but he is already in the museum in a variety of places.


            You can spend a lot of money in the Hall of Fame’s store, and even more money up and down the streets of Cooperstown where purveyors of baseball memorabilia are glad to sell you mint condition baseball cards of Mickey Mantle or real bats used in real Major League games by real Major League players. 


            Spending lots of money on memorabilia is not my thing, but memorable experiences are, and I had an idea.        Having decided not to stay at the Otesaga Resort did not prevent me from enjoying their amenities.  Years ago, I learned that you can eat a meal at a World Class Hotel for a fraction of the cost of a room, so I pulled into the parking lot of the Otesaga as if I were Yogi Berra or Greg Maddux and found my way to the Hawkeye Bar and Grill.  Hawkeye is the main character in The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans.   Reservations were required but I was early enough to be seated on the terrace overlooking The Glimmerglass.  I asked the waitress what looked good in the kitchen.  As a result, I ordered French Onion Soup and fried Calamari, two appetizers.  Enjoyed the ambiance for an hour for about $20 plus tip.


I loved my time in Cooperstown, but I missed my wife, and I had been gone for two weeks, and I was still 14-15 hours from home.  So, I hit the road.  Stayed at a random motel somewhere in Pennsylvania and drove down the Shenandoah Valley to arrive home the next evening.


Categories: Baseball, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY (Part One)

            An important component of this Retirement Trip, from its inception, was a stop in Cooperstown, New York, home of baseball’s Hall of Fame.


            For reasons utterly unrelated to baseball, my one previous visit to Cooperstown was an iconic travel experience, the hard-to-top-this variety.  I made that first baseball pilgrimage in the fall, by myself, and stayed in a cheap motel across the road from the beautiful Lake Otsego, known to millions of non-baseball fans as The Glimmerglass, written about by James Fennimore Cooper in The Deerslayer.


            On a fine fall morning, over a decade ago, I walked up and over the small hill behind the motel, which was closing for the season the next day, to discover a Norman Rockwell painting in Real Life.  Local residents were raking the fallen leaves and burning them, laughing and enjoying conversation.  Sight, sound and smell all came together to create a perfect picture that is indelible in my mind to this day.  Then I drove to downtown Cooperstown and ate a perfect pastry at the bakery on the corner of the village’s shopping district.  That took care of “taste.”  My senses were on overload.  How do you improve on an experience like that?


            First rule of travel is never attempt to duplicate a travel memory.  You can’t do it.  You will be disappointed.  Enjoy the memory, but leave the happy thoughts of your previous experience in the past.  If you return to the same site, do something new this time.


            I did not have a room reserved in Cooperstown on this trip.  I wasn’t sure where I was staying, or for how long.  I considered staying at the place where the Hall of Famers stay, at the magnificent Otesaga Resort.  The rates were over $300 per night, a far cry from the $25 per night I had paid at the Mom and Pop motel on my previous stay.  That would be a different experience.  Sometimes, I am willing to pay more for a five-star experience, but not that much more and not on this occasion.  So, I had made no decision about where to stay.


Categories: Baseball, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Days Two and Three: New York City

            New York City never sleeps!  Understatement!

            I am a serious user of to reserve hotel rooms.  I can’t remember ever being disappointed.  I ended up in Indigo Hotel in the Flower District in Chelsea, New York City.  I had never heard of the Indigo Hotel or the Flower District, but I was very happy with my accommodations.  I did not need to be in Times Square, but I didn’t want to be on Long Island either, and lets you choose, more or less, the general area of any city where you want to stay.  So if you want to stay downtown, they don’t put you at the airport.  That is my commercial for

            I bought a ticket online for the Mets versus Yankees.  It looked like it was going to be a rainout, but it turned out to be only a rain delay.  I had access, because of my ticket, to a really nice pavilion within the stadium.  In fact, because of the rain delay, I was able to have an unhurried sit-down restaurant meal (where I had a reservation) at Pat LaFrieda’s Chop House inside the concourse.  When my meal was over, the rain had obligingly stopped, and the game began.  Good timing for me.  It did mean a long evening at the ballpark, but the Mets won and the Yankees lost, so all was well.  I took the subway back to my hotel.

            Scoping out a good patisserie is always a priority for me, so I began the next morning with a good croissant and coffee at The City Bakery, not far from my hotel. 

            The day, being Wednesday, allowed me to see two musicals, Wicked as a matinee in the afternoon and The Book of Mormon in the evening.  Wicked was a wonderful, feel-good prequel to the Wizard of Oz.  Laughter, tears, inspiration, entertainment, everything you want in a musical.  The Book of Mormon is way more complicated.  It is vulgar, irreverent and offensive.  It is also funny and engaging, and toward the end, mostly redeems itself.  I am glad I went, but this play/musical is not for everyone, especially anyone with a fragile conscience.  A couple of young, naïve Mormon missionaries end up witnessing to a miserably poor village in Africa.  Every cliché and misunderstanding imaginable transpires in the course of these few hours, but good comes of it all in the end.  Praise the Lord!  But do not go if you are easily offended.

            Between the afternoon and evening shows, I walked to Madison Avenue to one of my favorite New York destinations, Davidoff Cigars.  (Somebody should be paying me for these free advertisements!)  I purchased an “Eminentes” cigar, and smoked it as I slowly walked through the city.  I spent about an hour at the Rockefeller Center people watching.  That may be my new favorite place in New York City.

            It was a very good two days.  Expensive, but there isn’t but one New York City.  If you go, enjoy it.  This is not the place to be frugal. 


Categories: Baseball, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Give me books on the shelf and maps on the wall…

Give me books on the shelf and maps on the wall...

That is the last line in yesterday’s blog post, and I had a picture of a couple of my book shelves. Here is a picture of a couple of my maps–to which I refer daily. What are some travel websites and links that people who travel might enjoy? Any suggestions?
(P.S. The red dots on the US map are cities where there are major league baseball teams.)

Categories: Baseball, Travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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