B is for Baseball Tour

Babe Ruth, Jack Nicholson and a cast of others.

Because she loves us, my wife purchased trolley tour tickets for her father and me with the Albany Aquaducks on Sunday, June 27, the week after Father’s Day; no we didn’t go in the water. The tour was to touch upon the baseball highlights of the area.

We were instructed to meet at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in nearby Troy, NY, generally called “The Joe”, named for the former State Senate majority leader, who was convicted of a couple of counts of corruption (though a subsequent Supreme Court ruling may end up nullifying the charges).

It IS a very nice stadium.

Here’s the peculiar thing, though: at the appointed hour of 2 pm, there were 17 people registered, and apparently paid, to go on the event. Yet the only people present were the driver, the woman from the Aquaducks, our tour guide, my father-in-law, and me.

Our guide was Rip Rowan, for a time the sports guy for WTEN-TV (Channel 10 in Albany), later doing work with the now-defunct Albany-Colonie Yankees, then the Tri-Cities Valleycats, who play in the Joe, until Rip retired in 2009.

Rip and the tour guide were on their cellphones trying to find out where the other customers were. In the meantime, Rip and two ValleyCats employees gave us a tour of the stadium, including the press box, which was air-conditioned, a particular perk on such a hot day.

Back to the vehicle, still with no additional customers, we drove around the area to the former site of Hawkins Stadium in nearby Menands:
New York Yankees play the Albany Senators at Hawkins Stadium before 7,000 fans. Babe Ruth hits three homers in batting practice. In the third inning, Ruth hits the longest homer ever in the city’s history. Ruth plays first base. Lou Gehrig plays left field. (August 9, 1929).

The odd thing is that the backstop is still nearby, 50 years after the stadium was demolished, and in reasonably good condition at that.

We then drove over to Ristorante Paradiso in Albany. Paradiso Owner Matt Daskalakis, who played with the Albany Senators in the 1950s, told his impressions of the sport in the 1950s versus now. It was clear he had practiced his talk with a greater number of participants in mind, but he told his interesting stories to the two of us anyway.

(Paradiso was a set for the Jack Nicholson/Meryl Streep film about a fictionalized Albany, Ironweed, based on the novel by noted local author William Kennedy. I actually saw Nicholson and Mike Tyson backstage at an Anita Baker concert in 1987.)

Next stop, Bleeker Stadium, only about eight blocks from my house, yet I didn’t know, until my father-in-law told me, that Albany now has a team in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. It is a summer (June/July) wood bat development league for professional baseball. The local team, Albany Dutchmen, are in their second season, and were between games of a doubleheader – against two different teams, one game being a makeup game of a rainout. A spokesman told us about the team and the league.

Finally, back to The Joe to watch the Valleycats, a Houston Astros farm team, play against Lowell, a Red Sox farm team. The home team lost but we had fun, eating hot dogs and chips, and drinking our sodas, all part of the package deal.

A story about the 2009 tour, which was somewhat different.

It has occurred to me that my father-in-law likes going to ball games with me because I enjoy baseball so much, whereas his sons are/were more or less indifferent. It took me longer to realize that I enjoy going to the games with him, because he knows the game so well, certainly, but also because it was something I used to do with my dad.
Ball Park Reviews, a website devoted to documenting in words and photos both major and minor league baseball parks across the United States and Canada.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

37 thoughts on “B is for Baseball Tour”

  1. Very happy memories. Its not too often you get such a private tour. Disappointing for the tour guides but a great perk for you.

  2. Gee, lucky you to get such a private tour plus! Wonder whatever happened to the rest of the registrants. šŸ˜€

  3. That sounds like fun and in some ways was probably a better tour with only two of you. Great that you and your father-in-law can enjoy baseball together.

  4. Roger, Baseball and Summer go together like sugar and spice – it’s all nice! I think the heat’s getting to me – would love to go to SF and catch a Giant’s game. Thanks for taking us along on the tour!

  5. How great was that, sounds like a nice private tour for you and your father-in-law. Baseball, Hotdogs and Apple Pie, how much more American can you get!

  6. Most of the time it’s not the event we remember (i,e, sporting events), it’s the people we choose to experience it with that make the memories. It certainly seems that way in this story. Thanks for sharing.

  7. a lovely B post indeed.. i’ve never been to a baseball game.. possibly coz i’ve never been to the USA.. šŸ™‚ hope to be at one soon.. šŸ˜€

  8. Baseball is a great B word. It’s very popular in your country, isn’t it? I don’t know if it is played here in my country. Football/soccer is more popular, I think. Well each country has its important games and sports.

  9. You certainly got a personalised tour, I like stories from the old days, not that I know anything about baseball but it does seem interwoven with American history.

  10. How wonderful to have such a personalised tour about the game you love so much! And I completely understand about enjoying the game more with someone who is enthusiastic, or (in your case) someone not only enthusiastic but knowledgeable too!

  11. Wow, a private tour! It might have been unexpected, but it sounds as if you enjoyed it a great deal.

  12. Thank you very much for this wonderful tour, showing an inside of the country rarely seen. Please have a great Wednesday.

  13. The Lead character in the book and movie “Ironweed”, haqd been a minor league ballplayer, I had an Extra part in the movie in a scene with Jack Nicholson. The whole film is a loveletter to Albany.

  14. Wow! Very cool. I would have loved to be on that tour.

    It is also strange to hear about another sports venue being called “The Joe”. In hockey circles (NHL and college), Joe Louis Arena is referred to by the same nickname.

  15. A great way to bond with your FIL. Wish I have an MIL or FIL I would surely love their company, figuring it out what’s our common likes and dislikes would be fun hehe! Thanks for the visit!

    ABC Wednesdsay~B

  16. I never thought of baseball! Love baseball, but since we left MA, I have not been in the game. Nice to read your memories. So, where was the rest of the touring group…

  17. A nice present for you and your father-in-law – you must have had a great day.

  18. What a wonderful day out you had – and what a privilege, even though unexpected, to have the undivided attention of the various speakers. It’s always fun to share an interest with someone knowledgeable adn experienced.

  19. The mere mention of baseball and ball parks makes me crave a hot dog with mustard and onions! Puzzling about the “missing” tour group.

  20. Good to have a spouse who loves us and buys us luxuries. Bet you enjoyed every minute of the tour.

    Quack! I thought you said Aqua duck?

    I played softball when I was in school. Was never very good.

  21. You are always so good at sharing information on any number of topics! How fun to have a “private” tour relating to something you both love.

  22. I love minor league baseball. When I was a teen I was a loyal fan of the Jersey City Indians and lamented (loudly, from 3,000 miles away) to hear of the destruction of Roosevelt Stadium to put up some condos or some other ridiculousness. I wonder if those Lowell guys are from Lowell, Massachusetts?

    I romanticize everything – even locations for minor league teams.

    Grateful for your comment on my blending ABC poem as well as to read your adventures here.

  23. Written like a true librarian! I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the history. My uncle played for the San Francisco Seals with the DiMaggio bros. Loved the multi-ethnic ties to these places too. Nicely done!

  24. The stadium looks very nice but from baseball I have no clue. It’s not very popular here in Belgium. Men are crazy about football (soccer) and Basket ball when it comes to ball games.

  25. In 1951, as a young lad aged 5, I watched “Babe” Daskalakis play first base for the Roanoke (VA) Red Sox, a Boston farm club of the Piedmont League. My dad was so proud that I could memorize the names of all the starting players and their positions. Now, at the age of 65, I can remember only two of those players: Babe and Neil Chrisley, who later played alongside Babe for the Albany Senators.

    I hope that Babe reads this or someone tells him about. I bet he would be heartened to know that a little boy still remembers him from so long ago.

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