Our Pecan Eagle Address to 2015 Graduates

May 17, 2015
Matthew McConaughey Address UH Commencement Exercises May 15, 2015

Matthew McConaughey Address
UH Commencement Exercises
May 15, 2015

From what I’ve been able to sample from reports, UH commencement speaker Matthew McConaughey did better than “All right! All right! All right!” at the Friday night, May 15, 2015 graduation exercise for 4,958 students who ranged in age from 18 to 78. Wow! All those demographics mean to me is that UH had at least one student who graduated from college at the same age that I finished high school in 1956, and, at least, one graduate who is currently older than me at the present time. My matriculation date was the fairly normal age 22 when I took my BS in psychology from UH in 1960, on my to graduate school at Tulane and Texas.

The chances that a whole lot of these 2015 UH graduates  are a whole lot smarter than I was on my Graduation Day are way up there.

I loved what I read of Matthew’s remarks:

* “Where you are not is as important as where you are.”

* “An honest man’s pillow is his piece of mind.”

* “The truth’s all around us all the time. Put yourself in place to receive the truth.”

* “Let’s make it (the world, our lives, etc) a place where we break a sweat, where we believe, where enjoy the process of succeeding in the places and ways e are fashioned to. Where we don’t have to look over our shoulder we’re too busy  doing what we’re good at, traveling toward immortal finish lines. We write our own book, overcoming our fears. We make friends with ourselves. And that is the place that I’m talking about.”

All I could add are the following:

Tom Jefferson did not promise us happiness in his immortal message. He wrote that we are entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. What Jefferson didn’t say was so important here. And Jefferson seemed to understood that we all simply had to grow in our individual wisdom of what those things he left our truly are:

(1) Pick a career that matches your passions and abilities and you have chosen a good shot at what passes for the often uneven flow of human happiness in one’s life work. Happiness does not come from doing what your parents think you should do, or from a career area you’ve picked because employment demand is good in that area, or in becoming the richest, most powerful kid on the block by the time you are age thirty, on your way to running for President at age thirty-five. As Shakespeare said best: “Do thine own self be true.”

(2) Whenever possible, find out what you really most want to do with your work life and your ongoing education before you create a life style that requires you to pay the bills in support of a family. Of course, if marriage and family is your goal above all else, don’t blame your spouse and children later may feel like you missing out on other choices in life.

(3) Pray or meditate that you are blessed to awaken early to the realization that happiness is giving to life – not taking from it.

(4) Pray or wish too that you then quickly make the next connection in the chain – that happiness is loving – and loving is giving – not taking.

(5) Hope for early wisdom too to the fact that taking responsibility for the lessons of our pain and disappointment in life is the channel to life-altering change, whereas, making pain and disappointment the rationale for blaming others or ourselves is little more than a ticket to ride in a cycle that repeats the same dire result until we either learn from it responsibly, and move on, or get sick and die.

(6) Your future is not the same one we elders once faced. You are in charge of a world in which technology itself is changing the way we relate to others and ourselves – and in ways that we are only beginning to imagine. All we elders ask is that you act in some ways also to protect our libraries, our historical preservation efforts, and the beautiful expression of whole thoughts in complete sentences and published works.

Thank you, Class of 2015! Now Go Get “Em! And don’t worry about our bill. The Pecan Park Eagle does not charge for commencement thoughts.

“Inside The Astrodome” from 1965 is Gold Mine

May 16, 2015

Astrodome-Book-01

Here’s the short version: This past weekend, on a visit to my birth hometown of Beeville, Texas, my younger brother, John McCurdy, gave me this copy of “Inside The Astrodome: Eighth Wonder of the World” from 1965.

Whoa!!!

It is an historical  treasure trove of little known facts and some long forgotten and never generally known information about the same iconic structure that now faces a future that hangs in the balance on our community’s ability to justify its continuation in a world that first demands that it be “re-purposed” into some kind of new attractive venue for commercial profit and/or public attraction – and at a price that “someone” is willing to pay and the rest of us are willing to support. Back in 1965, nobody saw this day coming.

Astrdome-Book-02

Above is a picture from the 260 page program that features (L->R) pitcher Dick “Turk” Farrell, Manager Luman Harris, and pitcher Don Nottebart. Nottebart was in his third and final season with Houston (1963-65) when the club was renamed the “Astros” but the The Pecan Park Eagle did not recognize him until he was identified for us by two readers, saint89brb and Olbermann.  Thanks, friends!

Astrodome-Book-04

In our third and final glimpse of the day (but with more to come in the near future), that’s handsome third baseman Bob Aspromonte of the newly re-christened in 1965 Houston Astros giving a little batting instruction to Dome guest and first pitch celebrant at a press luncheon, singer Anita Bryant on the receiving end of that instruction. What a teacher young “Aspro” was back in the day. Notice the way Bob uses the left hand to precisely instruct Miss Bryant on the best way she should position her body in preparation for what’s about to come.

Have a nice weekend, everybody! And try to stay dry!

Our Top Ten Thoughts Inspired By Baby Face

May 15, 2015
Wisdom is not Microwavable

Wisdom is not Microwavable

A 20-year old Texas man has tattooed the face of his baby on his own face to celebrate the infant’s near “brush with death”.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/26/why-a-texas-man-had-his-baby-tattooed-onto-his-face/

There’s nothing in the Bill of Rights that says a young man cannot do this sort of thing and a lot there to protect his free will to do exactly what he has now done. Same here. We have the equivalent right here at The Pecan Park Eagle to present our list of the Top Ten Thoughts that rushed to mind as soon as the featured photo and story became public:

Our Top Ten Thoughts Inspired By Baby Face

10) Yuk!

9) Dumb and Dumber Rides Again!

8) Who says our American culture is in trouble?

7) That’s great “Dad” – but can you change a diaper?

6) Sooner or later, every parent gets to hear: “Don’t show anybody my baby pictures!” What then?

5) “You don’t have to take me to school, Dad. I can walk five miles easy!”

4) “Why can’t I follow in the footsteps of TV sportscasters like Greg Lucas and Bill Brown?”

3) “Are you sure your real last name isn’t ‘Nelson’?”

2) Wisdom is not microwavable – and some regrets are like tattoos. They are forever.

1) Maury Povich Show Conclusion: “Thanks for appearing on our show today, Baby Face. – There’s no easy way to break this news here, but we have to tell you. – The blood tests are in. And we have been able to determine that you are NOT the father of that child on your face!”

Two Hall of Fame Member Facts

May 15, 2015
Craig Biggip Art by Opie Otterstad (2004) HOF, 2015

Craig Biggio
Art by Opie Otterstad (2004)
HOF, 2015

The 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Yearbook is a ready source for coming up with your own list of “fun facts” about the membership. Of course, I do have to start with one that most of us already know about our very first 100% pure and fully declared Houston Astros inductee, Craig Biggio:

(1) Craig Biggio is a Houston Astro in the same sense that Stan Musial was a St. Louis Cardinal, Joe DiMaggio was a New York Yankee, Ernie Banks was a Chicago Cub, Johnny Bench was a Cincinnati Red and Ted Williams was a member of the Boston Red Sox. They were all one-team guys. There were others like them, but today’s game and the financial considerations facing both players and clubs in this 21st century huge money big business culture make “loyalty and mutual contentment” less powerful as the factors keeping athletes on the same team for all of a double-digit years career. In light of the fact, we say, “Hail, Biggio, one of the last of a vanishing breed of MLB players!” Not only that, your 668 doubles were the 5th most, all-time, and the most ever compiled by a right-handed batter in baseball history.

(2) With Yogi Berra turning 90 two days ago, we now have four living members of the Hall of Fame still with us – and apparently too healthy and happy with their current missions in life to leave the rest of us short-handed for proof that love is forever – and that nice guys either finish last or go home first. All of these four men are a handful of the nicest people ever documented by the legion of baseball writers who still cover their tracks.

Bobby Doerr Age 97 HOF, 1986

Bobby Doerr
Age 97
HOF, 1986

Bobby Doerr, 97 years (DOB: April 7, 1918)  is the oldest. As a second baseman and another of those one-team-only fellows is described by his late former manager ad fellow Hall of Famer Joe Cronin as “fine a man who ever wore a spike shoe.” He also played a pretty darn good second base for the Boston Red Sox for 14 years (1937-44, 1946-51). Doerr’s best hitting year was 1944, when he batted .325 and led the AL in slugging with a percentage of .528.

Monte Irvin Age 96 HOF, 1973

Monte Irvin
Age 96
HOF, 1973

Monte Irvin, 96 years (DOB: February 25, 1919) is right behind Doerr as the second oldest. As a primarily left fielder, this current Houston resident of several years played all but one of his eight big league seasons with the New York Giants before a last season with the Chicago Cubs topped things off (1949-56). Monte’s big league career had been shortened by the old racial color line and he spent most of east productive early years as one of the most feared hitters in the Negro League. In fact, he came very close to playing the role that Jackie Robinson then so ably filled in breaking the color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Monte Irvin didn’t believe in leaving those ducks on the pond. In 1951, he batted .312  with 24 HR for the Giants while also leading the NL in RBI with 121.  He also batted .329 with 97 RBI in 1953.

Irvin is beloved today as one of baseball’s great ambassadors and one of the nicest gentlemen you could ever hope to meet. I still highly value the day he rode with me to a SABR meeting in Houston back in 2010. I was totally smitten by his generous sharing of great baseball stories, but I was mindful also to do the best job of driving possible as we talked and navigated the freeways of Houston. After all, I was transporting a national treasure. – Thanks for that special day memory, Monte Irvin!

Red Schoendienst Age 92 HOF 1989

Red Schoendienst
Age 92
HOF 1989

Red Schoendienst, 92 years (DOB: February 2, 1923) 2nd Baseman Red Schoendienst is one of those nice guys who should have been a career St. Louis Cardinal, but he wasn’t able to escape the needs of Cardinal General Manager “Trader Frank” Lane to trade players the way some people need to rearrange the home furniture on a frequent basis. As a result, one of the greatest, nicest infielders of all time, and a tenacious guy who would still beat the hell out of you, if you were on the other side, got shuttled away during his 12th season as a Cardinal for a brief stay with the New York Giants in 1956 before being traded away again to the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and a four-year run (1957-60) with a serious contender and champion. Red then returned to the Cardinals for limited service over three seasons (1961-63) to complete his 19-season (1945-63) total MLB career. He also did well in a couple of terms as Cardinals manager and he remains active in his support of the Cards and the City of St. Louis. – Keep it going, Red!

Yogi Berra Age 90 HOF 1972

Yogi Berra
Age 90
HOF 1972

Yogi Berra, 90 years (DOB: May 15, 1925) Like Craig Biggio of the Astros, Yogi Berra, of course, was a a pure-blood career member of the New York Yankees, even though he was always a native St. Louisan that Cardinals misjudged as a potential MLB talent. *  Rumor was that Frank Lane also tried to trade Stan Musial to the Yankees for Yogi Berra at one point, but that the Busch ownership put quash of sanity on that deal before the trigger could be pulled. What a bloated error that would have been – and what a blight that would have been upon the “Baseball Spirit of St. Louis.”

My favorite Yogi story is still the one about the time he attended a day lunch function sponsored by Mayor Wagner of New York, wearing a spring-colored line suit and bright accent tie. Mrs. Wagner greeted Berra with much approval for his choice of dress. “Good Morning, Yogi,” the mayor’s wife exclaimed. “You really look cool today!”

“Thank you, Madam Mrs. Mayor,” Yogi responded. “You don’t look so hot yourself!”

* Footnote Correction: See how easy it is to make an “E” in the reporting of baseball history. As Jim Stokes points out in his comment on this column, he and I were both wrong about Yogi Berra being a Yankee one-team career lifer, even though I do think we both did know somewhere in the murky files of memory that Yogi spoiled that pedigree for all time when, as manager of the 1965 New York Mets, he went 2 for 9 in 4 games as a hitter for his club and spoiled the purity of his previously secured all-Yankee career. – Way to go, Yogi!

An Act of Contraction

May 14, 2015

“Bless me, Father, for I have slimmed!”
~ Homer Simpson Look-a-Like

An Act of Contraction

 

By Bill McCurdy (2015)

 

Bless me, Father – for I have slimmed.

I’ve lost ten pounds – and one of my chins.

 

It’s been ten days – since my last “Mac and Cheese”,

But you know me so well – always anxious to please.

 

I really miss pizza – chicken dumplings and such,

Apple pie lives on too – as a memory crunch.

 

But I firmly resolve – with the help of pure grapes,

To change those sin foods – to the diet of apes.

 

And just eat the green stuff – no sugar – no salt,

And lock all the fun stuff – in my memory vault.

 

For these big amends – to my many food sins,

I pray that this penance – finds its sweet starchy end.

 

But – one day in Heaven – when the cows find God’s Gate,

I still pray they end up – on everyone’s plate.

 

Amen.

Baseball HOF Yearbook for 2015 Is Now Available

May 13, 2015
The Hall of Fame 2015 Yearbook Is Now Available.

The Hall of Fame
2015 Yearbook
Is Now Available.

 

Plans at Cooperstown for the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Class are building steam. My membership copy of the 144 page “2015 Yearbook”, featuring full layouts in words and pictures of the 2015 Class (Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz) arrived by mail yesterday – and it also included nice summary profile information, that included their year of induction, for all members of “The Hall” – plus ample information on how anyone who plans to make the trip this year in support of Craig Biggio, any of the others, or simply, to show their love for the great game of baseball can be there too this summer as an observer-participant of this very special inclusion of the first pure-blood inductee from the Houston Astros.

http://baseballhall.org/visit/hall-of-fame-weekend

While you are visiting the HOF website, give some thought to becoming a supportive member of this very worthwhile 501 C (3) non-profit corporation that exists to acquire, protect, preserve, and display the grand history of baseball in ways that far exceed the original foundation of the idea that the game was invented in Cooperstown by Abner Doubleday. The place reminds us of 19th century rural America and it is symbolic of baseball building its early small town roots. Include The Pecan Park Eagle among those who contend: “If baseball wasn’t invented in Cooperstown, it should have been!”

The HOF 2015 Yearbook also includes an article on the Astrodome by Jose de Jesus Ortiz of The Houston Chronicle entitled “50 Years of Indoor Games”, published, of course, by another external-to-Houston authoritative source on the importance of our architectural icon to a world much larger than Harris County. – Check it out. Mr. Ortiz did a fine job.

The individual order instructions on the HOF 2015 Yearbook are not immediately available to me this morning, but membership in the Hall will also make it available to you, I’m sure. After all, I got one yesterday. And we never ordered it.

At any rate, HOF membership for fans doesn’t cost much – and it opens the door for pleasant little surprises like the annual yearbook featured here as a benefit, along with other discounts and ongoing information about other special offers from the HOF throughout the year. And it all goes into supporting the institution that supports the accurate and positive memory of baseball.

Although we have been to Cooperstown only once, and never for an induction ceremony weekend, we cannot be there this year for personal reasons that have nothing to do with baseball, but with some considerable regret that.we will not be there to witness Craig Biggio inducted as a Houston Astro. We are assured, however, that the contingent of fans from Houston will be there in full glory appreciation and support of No.#7 and all he has done as a player and citizen of Houston to represent our community in the first-class style that is Craig Biggio.

There is till ample time to make arrangements for your own passage to the big July 24-27 Induction Weekend celebration, but please check out the HOF website on the best ways to contain the expense and arrangements hassle of traveling to Cooperstown for the most popular event on the HOF calendar every year. The upside is – if you make the trip this year – you will always know that you were there among the group of Houston fans who came in support of Craig Biggio at the highlight moment of his baseball life.

Long Live Baseball! Long Live the Hall of Fame! And Long Live the Memory of Craig Biggio, a very special Houstonian!

I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

May 12, 2015
Louis Armstrong with friend and New Orleans Jazz historian Don Marquis (1951)

Louis Armstrong with friend and New Orleans Jazz historian Don Marquis (1951)

Glad He Is Dead.

Sunday afternoon last Judge Knapp passed in his checks after an illness of only two weeks. His wife had supported him by laundry work for the last two years, and although the widow has donned the weeds and is figuring on a tombstone with a lamb on top of it, we’ve got a dollar which says she’s glad the old loafer has gone to a better [hotter?] country. If she isn’t, we are, for he made our office his loafing place, and the tobacco stains he left after him will keep his memory green for a year to come. [Arizona Kicker]

Galveston Daily News, May 19, 1888

Perhaps songwriter Sam Theard was around early enough to have known the story of the little beloved or mourned Judge Knapp who so spitefully finds his memorial in this 1888 story of his passing as it appeared in the Arizona Kicker and then found its way into the May 19, 1888 edition of the Galveston Daily News. Of course, lazy old cusses who leave all the work to their soldiering, beloved, and angry wives and office secretaries have never been hard to find so the greater probability remains that the apparent relatedness of the old judge to the later song are simply the result of a hard-to-miss coincidence. Thanks again to researcher-friend Darrell Pittman for forwarding an old news clipping that juiced the notion for this column subject.

Here are the lyrics to the song that spiked our associative memories file:

I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You

Words and Music By Sam Theard (1931)

Now I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you, uh-huh
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you, oh yeah
Well I let into my home, you gonna leave my woman alone
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you

Now I’ll be glad when you die, you rascal you, uh-huh
I’ll be glad, oh I’ll be tickled to death when you leave this earth it’s true, oh yeah
When you’re lyin’ down six feet deep, no more fried chicken will you eat
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you, oh yeah

Ah, you just ain’t no good! oh, you dog

Now listen here, I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you, uh-huh
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you, oh yeah
I’ll be standin’ on the corner high, when they drag your body by
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you know I’m gonna be so happy when you’re gone you dog
I’ll be glad when you’re dead, you rascal you

And if you care to hear old “Louie” sing it, here’s the link for listening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgiJ0OS9LwU

Bill MsCurdy with Don Marquis During a New Orleans visit (2005)

Bill MsCurdy with Don Marquis
During a New Orleans visit
(2005)

Back-In-The-Day News: May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015

(1) HAS INFLATION REALLY BEEN THAT BAD?

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS MAY 17, 1921 SUBMITTED BY DARRELL PITTMAN

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS
MAY 17, 1921
SUBMITTED BY DARRELL PITTMAN

In case that type copy from 1921 is too hard to read, it says back in 1921 that the New York Yankees are planning to construct their own baseball park over in the Bronx and that the 75,000 seat stadium will cost $2,000,000 to build. Two Million Dollars??? – For that kind of money today, a fan could buy 20,000 salvage seats from the now vacant and unused Astrodome!

(2) LONGEST NO-HITTER IN HISTORY WENT 17 INNINGS IN 1909

THE SPORTING NEWS BY CONTRIBUTOR TIM HAGERTY JUNE 22, 2014

THE SPORTING NEWS
BY CONTRIBUTOR TIM HAGERTY
JUNE 22, 2014 (from a suggestion by Darrell Pittman)

Chalk this mind-bending achievement up to pitcher Fred Toney of the Class D Winchester (KY) Hustlers. Back on May 10, 1909 he pitched his home club to a 17-inning, 1-0, no-hit shutout of the Lexington (KY) Colts. The game finally ended when Winchester got down a successful squeeze play bunt in the bottom of the 17th to protect Toney from might have been the biggest individual heartbreak in baseball history had the visitors finally cashed in a run on a scrawny hit of their own in the top of the 18th or somewhere even more ridiculously beyond that incredible game mark.

What we still don’t know from this report is – how long did it take in hours and minutes to play this classic game? Based upon the way things have slowed down in received years, our guess is that got to 17 innings in a 1909 Class D ballgame in which neither team had scored to that point in less time than it now takes an MLB club in 2015 to lay nine innings of an everyday multiple runs and hits game.

Here’s a link to the story by Tim Hagerty:

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2014-06-22/17-inning-no-hitter-fred-to
ney-winchester-kentucky-hustlers

And here’s how the story was written back in 1909.

Sporting News, Vol. 53 No. 11,  May 22, 1909 Contributed by Darrell Pittman

Sporting News, Vol. 53 No. 11,
May 22, 1909
Contributed by Darrell Pittman

 Have a great week, everybody!

Happy Mother’s Day, But Remember Too

May 10, 2015

mothers day

Happy Mother’s Day, But Remember Too: All Mothers are not the same. Make sure you know what you’re celebrating – and even more importantly – whether or not you even need to celebrate. Some of the “mothers’ in our lives are more in tune with our reasons for sadness, a sense of burden, or a moment of umpleasurable pain.

Here are a few examples of what we mean. In reality, it’s up to each of us individually to spot on “nail” the major mothers of our lives and to respond accordingly to the feeling state that each specifically one specifically inspires:

1) First, let’s clear the deck on our popular understanding of the term. – If you had a genetic or adoptive mother in your life who raised you to be a good, honest, responsible and loving person, by all means, celebrate that lady today, and every day, to the high heavens. Even if she fell far short of perfection and looms stronger in your memory today as one of the obstacles that stood in the way of you standing up and breathing on your own in 2015, at least, give even that lady credit for doing the best she could and go visit her this Mothers Day, if they allow for visitors in her particular nursing home, psychiatric facility, or criminal detention center.

2) Sometimes a “mother” is a hangover that descends upon us after another heavy night of celebration or mourning. Nothing to celebrate when it comes to this kind of mother. Either wise up and get well or go insane or die. Just try not to take anyone else with you as a drunk or drugged driver. There is a coward’s way out here. That is, when a hangover hits, take another bite of the hair from the animal that bit you. It doesn’t take much to end the pain of withdrawal from alcohol (which is what a hangover is all about) – and it will work quickly in the moment of the short run  – for as long as your liver holds out for another game of “spend the bottle”.

3) Many of us Houston sports fans also have discovered over time that the aggregate baggage weight of being a local fan of the Astros, Oilers/Texans, Rockets, Cougars, Owls,and/ or Tigers is pretty much of  a “mother” load upon one’s mind, body, and soul too. Not much to celebrate there. We just keep waking up with each new coming team season, ruminating on thoughts of  our numerous past painful losses – and shaking out some new versions of the same old question that is always on our minds: “Are we having fun yet?”

4) There are a lot of “mothers’ connected with work. Some of them flow from the “mother weight” of work our bosses give us in relation to the “feather weight” of the rewards we see for ourselves down the road for trying to get ahead by pleasing the boss. “People pleasing” is a mother unto itself and – as you already know – it is not a behavior that is confined to the work area of our lives. Sometimes “people-pleasing” behavior itself is the very ignition button that converts bosses, coworkers, friends, or even spouses into “ungrateful mothers” that a “people pleaser” actually hates to engage. Again – nothing to celebrate here – but a loud awakening call to the need for recovery, if one recognizes the dominance of any feeling that tells them that “I always have to please everyone in my life – whether they ask for my help or not.” This one is probably the crown jewel of all “mothers” we do not celebrate on this special day.

5) A “mother” may also be the driver of a shiny black pick up truck – like the one that cut me off on the freeway yesterday. – Just don’t honk your horn or shake your fist at such a driver. – That kind of  “mother” may have a gun and think nothing of the trouble he may buy for himself by shooting you straight between the eyes before he goes down in a news channel TV car chase “breaking news” report.

6) Albert Pujols is the biggest “mother” in the recent history of Astros baseball. We are pretty sure he hangs on the wall of closer Brad Lidge’s mind also as another of those “mothers” we care not to celebrate.

7) Every person elected to Congress to save our country, but who later leaves office with things in a bigger mess for us, but better for themselves, with benefit entitlements that the rest of us can only dream of having, upon their departures from public service, is a bigger “mother” than just about anyone else I can personally list, so please allow me to summarize it in my next and final entry.

8) Politicians are “mothers”.

Please take over the list-building from here. We all know the generic term. And we all have our own ideas of who and what most deserves the appellation.  Anyone or anything can be the kind of  “mother” we do not ever want to celebrate.

Spend today respecting the mothers who deserve the attention every day that this annual Sunday was designed to honor and remember. – It will be OK to get back to fighting those “bad mothers” on Monday.

Happy Mother’s Day, Everybody!

Happy-Mothers-Day

Cooperstown: One of Best American Small Towns

May 9, 2015
Cooperstown, New York

Cooperstown, New York

AARP (American Association of Retired People) has now picked Cooperstown, NY as No. 8 on its list of America’s Best small Towns under the 30,000 full-time population mark. In these study findings, they don’t exactly recommend any of these listed places as future home prospects for retirees, but as places that have much to offer visitors in the way of education, beauty, cultural uniqueness. great dining, and affordable fun.

As one-time, but going-back-someday visitor in Cooperstown, and as a Deep Blue Level lover of baseball and its history, I would love to live there full-time, but my dear wife doesn’t want to live anywhere it gets that cold, and stays that cold, throughout the long northeastern American winters. And, who knows? I’m a native Texan and have never even seen a snow that lasted 24 hours. – Maybe, at age 77, I might have a little trouble finding the right end of a snow shovel long enough to do us much good under blizzard conditions, anyway, but then – people don’t shovel snow during blizzards, do they?

We were there briefly with other family members in June of 1994. I recall asking one of the baseball memorabilia shopkeepers what he did during the winter? “inventory” was his one-word answer. So, maybe my little sweetheart is right this time. Maybe, I would not like the long periods of snowbound enclosure either, but I’m still not sure. – Has anyone ever been snowbound inside the National Baseball Library? – That fate sounds like a cool way to be imprisoned for a while – to me, anyway.

Short of moving there. Maybe I can just go spend the summer there sometime, even if I have to go alone. That would be the Dream Summer of my life, as I now think about things. Just taking a few slow contemplative weeks living in the heart of baseball’s Valhalla would do me just fine.

On the only previous dawn I ever spent in Cooperstown back in 1994, we were saying in a place called “The Shortstop Hotel” on Main Street, very close to the Hall of Fame. I was so excited to be there that I awoke before the sun and quietly dressed to walk around by myself without waking anyone else in the family.

When I hit the streets and started walking Main Street in the quiet darkness, among the orderly placement of those old style street lights, I could not help but be reminded of how much it made me think of Bedford Falls in that wonderful old Frank Capra movie from 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. After a while of much sauntering, I was attracted to the sound of some noise down the way. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon Doubleday Field, only minutes away from dawn. A ground crew was there to do some work and get the field ready for some kind of amateur game that was on the docket for that afternoon. I asked if it would be OK to enter and just walk in and take a seat for the sunrise. Those guys had no problem with that request – and so I did just that on the home plate first base side – I found a seat in the empty stands – and I sat back in a state of gifted waiting – in full anticipation of what I was about to see as the darkness lifted. I had not counted on anything on this spiritual level in my first-and-only-time experience of Cooperstown. and here it was – unfolding for me suddenly, like Christmas in June.

As the sun rose on Doubleday Field that summer pre-dawn morning, I was the only one sitting in the stands to salute its arrival. The changing of the light, as it streaked and glowed in orange color variations in the eastern sky behind the outfield walls, was simply magnificent. And the higher the sun rose in the sky, the more the rustic civil beauty of bungalows nestled among the tall evergreens there shown forth in settled glory, as light rays trickled more strongly through the parting spaces between the leaves, almost inviting me to pay attention to the towering church steeple that completed this scene, and at the same iconic field ushered into perpetual service and celebration in 1939 with the help of people like Honus Wagner, Cy Young and the one and only George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

“Where is Norman Rockwell when you really need his company?” Or so I thought.

Cooperstown, as far as small towns with much to offer, you will always be Number One with people like me. And I am only one of the millions you could not handle, should we all decide to move in with you at the same time because of what was long ago built into your already most beautiful depiction of the early American Dream by the game of baseball.

Better we all visit, one by one, and get down to Doubleday Field before the sun rises, individually or in small company, in the hope that some other kind soul will be there to help us begin our visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame with this kind of sublime half hour of sunrise meditation.

____________________

Here’s the AARP “America’s Best Small Towns” description of Cooperstown and the link to their piece on all ten towns with populations under 30,000 that they recommend:

America’s Best Small Towns: No. 8, Cooperstown, New York

“Founded in 1786, this town is filled with stately homes and civic structures — but most know it best as the location of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. But this isn’t just a destination for sports lovers: Cultural attractions include the Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival, the annual Glimmerglass Opera season and the Fenimore Art Museum. Outdoorsy types, meanwhile, can enjoy golfing at Leatherstocking Golf Course, boating on Otsego Lake and hiking in Glimmerglass State Park. Beer lovers shouldn’t pass up a chance to tour the esteemed Brewery Ommegang, which produces Belgian-style brews and hosts a Belgian food-and-drink festival on its grounds every August. For dining, highlights include the global-inspired menu at the Alex & Ika Restaurant and the waterfront views at Lake Front Restaurant and Bar.”

~ excerpt from America’s Best Small Towns by Michael Alan Connelly, Abbey Chase, Fodor’s Travel

Full Story Link:

http://travel.aarp.org/articles-tips/articles/info-07-2014/best-small-towns-america-photo.html?cmp=NLC-WBLTR-DSO-NMCTRL-050815-TS1-TRAVEL-593658&encparam=Wueocu2B5p71a0XxeCsVXV8HRwoCIA4EVR0NIn9wSQo=#slide1

____________________

    Double Day Field     Cooperstown, New York     By Deborah Geurtze

Double Day Field
Cooperstown, New York
By Deborah Geurtze

We were out of town all day today, Saturday, May 9th, so I just came in to find this wonderful “Rockwellian” landscape of Doubleday Field by artist Deborah Geurtze, with a crucible note from baseball friend and fellow SABR member Bill Hickman. Art and narrative both are deserving as this late inclusion into the Doubleday Field-focused column. Thanks, Bill Hickman for all you do the good in the name of baseball!

“Your mentioning Norman Rockwell in your column today prompted me to send you the attached.  The artist wasn’t Rockwell, of course, but instead was Deborah Geurtze.   This print sits above my computer, along with another one of hers which shows the front entrance to Doubleday Field.  Perhaps this will give you another good memory of your day at the field with the church steeple in the background.  Deborah Geurtze was located in Cooperstown at the time I purchased her prints, although I acquired them at craft shows elsewhere.

“The photo is askew because I was trying to avoid the reflection of lights in the room off the glass covering the print.
“Much enjoyed your description of Cooperstown.  It’s a terrific place, and I’d love to return there again.  Been there twice.  I salute you for getting up and seeing the sunrise at the field.  What a terrific experience to enjoy!”
~ Bill Hickman, May 9, 2015
____________________

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers