Out to the Ballgame — Installment VI

Our trek to Cincinnati for some pennant-race baseball, and a detour for the game of pigskin

What a day yesterday! The drive from Cleveland to (nearly) Cincinnati took six hours and tested the motorbus driving skills of the guys. I opted from the outset to neither drive nor learn anything about the motor home’s systems or technologies. No new tricks for this old dog. Thank goodness!

After a week’s worth of baseball, we were “ready for some football.” We stopped at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton for several terrific hours of total and complete football immersion. We learned more about the history of the game than any of us knew. An NFL Films presentation on last year’s Super Bowl with camera angles and sound that was superb was a stark reminder of how gentle a game baseball really is. After our tour, we played some touch football on the field just outside the museum. One thing stood out. The Philadelphia Eagles, despite their longevity, were a complete footnote among the Hall of Famers. The obvious guys were in — Bednarek, Van Buren, Van Brocklin, McDonald and Reggie White. But the Birds don’t get that much face time in this place. Nonetheless, to see how important the smaller communities like Pottsville and Canton were in the origins of the pro game was really fascinating. This was a sport that drew early interest from steel towns and coal mining villages. The Steelers seem to have the most established presence, in part due to the leadership role of Art Rooney and his family and in part due to the performance of their teams.

After our tour, we were pumped up to run some patterns on the mini-field, fully chalk-lined and painted, that sits just outside of the museum. It was great fun watching the 2-on-1 coverage that each guy faced as I tried (mostly in vain) to hit them in their open spots.

We didn’t arrive at the Olive Branch Campground until midnight, by which time everyone was hungry and, of course, thirsty. We made a pit stop along the way for beer, burger meat and salad fixings. We lit the grill, heated up the chicken from our DC camp, fired up the burgers and dogs and cracked open some Samuel Adams lager. Everyone was quite stuffed and ready for bed by 1. I watched a little of the HBO John Adams DVD and fell off.

This morning we awoke to a magnificent campground that really impressed us. Some of the RVs parked here were really upscale. We’re making lists of things we’d bring along next time and things we’d do without. We all grossly overpacked. Two or three of everything is more than enough, and frankly that may be too much. The guys are back at the cornhole game (quoits), and their intensity along with them.

In a few minutes we’ll be off for Cincinnati and our final baseball game. Reds vs. Cubs, a full stadium, and a team in a pennant race (Reds), after watching in order: the O’s, Nationals, Pirates and Indians — all cellar dwellers. Plus another new stadium. Hanging with my three sons.

Can life be any better than this?