Accidentally On Purpose
During a trip to the northeast for a wedding, my boys and I dabbled and dribbled our way to the Basketball Hall of Fame. I doubt if full-court pressed that my sons could name any teams outside of their own Orlando Magic, but nonetheless, they made the most of the exhibit. Since they knew no names, the Chuck Taylor exhibit brought them to their feet and the moving sidewalk served as their free throw line for a wide range of air balls. Nonetheless, the empty museum in the off season – the museum’s, not the sport’s – provided a leisurely, enjoyable morning despite the complete lack of fanaticism.
Now baseball, that excursion not only highlighted the trip; the journey existed for the sake of the site. I adore this sport like no other. Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame (see “The Mile High Club” from December 2011), much like walking into the corn at the Field of Dreams (see “Field of Dreams” from February 2013), or shouting, “Play ball!” at the end of the National Anthem at the World Series (see “Are You Ready for Some Baseball?” from March 2012) stirs my soul, sparkling like a diamond, bringing me home. A dozen metaphors, hundreds of innings, and one champions’ hall send me to the upper decks of enjoyment. Did Cooperstown delight me more than Springfield because my love for the sport, the notoriety of the hometown, exploring the tales of October Classics past during October, or maybe because the boys didn’t join me? Hard to say, but it checked off another of the big four professional American sports.
The Cradle of Professional Souvenirs
Canton happens to be on the way between North Dakota and Florida. Sure, half the country lies between those two extremes, but through all of my travels only once have I nudged near the pigskin pinnacle. My original plan to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park fizzles in the throngs of runners blocking every thoroughfare (if there’s a runner’s HoF, don’t expect to see me there), so I opt to meander down field to the place where American football began. From the time back in middle school when I could recite every team and every NFL city, I want to explore the halls of famous footballers. The larger-than-life banner out front highlights this year’s inductees, and I am flattered to be amongst them. Three of four: check.
My fandom for football, when gauged between my previous two Halls of Fame, falls somewhere around the fifty yard line – equal distance between the end zones. Do I want to see everything? No. Do I want to see that “just one more thing” before I depart? Yes. It’s autumn – prime season for this sport – and I consider where to start. What’s unusual, though, is despite last night’s thunderstorm, it’s actually warmer out than I expected. And I am not alone. My furry baby girl, Pompey, is my traveling companion on this epic cross-country trek and given the outside temperature, it’s not possible to leaver her in the car as the day warms. We also have to be in Shenandoah National Park by sunset, preferably earlier if we hope to find a first-some, first-serve campsite. So with the defense’s blitz approaching, I call an audible: I punt on everything but the gift shop and hope I can get another chance to make it into the end zone on a future trip.