Baseball Tour Included Some Football This Time Around
Three major league baseball games, four museums, the induction of three hall of famers, a visit to a restaurant/sports bar owned by a former Ohio Valley resident and a talk by a baseball official scorer about his duties, were among the highlights of the recent Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel baseball group.
It just happened that prior to our trip we all received a memo from Bill Bryson, “Mr Uniglobe” in which he stated, “I think we have a pretty exciting trip planned.” He was right!
This was this year’s final multi-day trip, it being the 53rd such jaunt since 2003.
The trip was one of the shortest mileage-wise and time-wise, but because of the distance we were enabled us to visit numerous attractions over a four-day period.
Having departed from Wheeling at 9 a.m., we arrived in Columbus just in time to have our first meal at 11:30 a.m., which was at Gresso’s Restaurant/Bar on South High Street.
It turned out that several of our group knew the owner, Emilio Traversa and his sister, Kim Appolloni, both of whom are Bellaire St. John’s graduates. Emilio was a first team All-American football player at West Liberty University, while Kim, a partner in the operation, is the Martins Ferry High School athletic director, having been both a boys and girls basketball coach on the local high school and university levels.
Gresso’s was founded by Erik Gresak, a Bishop Donahue graduate who went to the Columbus area after college to teach at Grove City High School. He later decided to open an business and converted an older house into a restaurant/bar. It has an Ohio Valley connection, with several helmets which have been signed by Ohio Valley residents who have stopped there. Also, there is an Ohio Valley night at Gresso’s, at which the main courses are DiCarlo’s pizza and Coleman’s fish.
We learned that Kim’s son, Emilio, is a red shirt sophomore at WVU. He is six-foot-seven and tips the scales at 325 pounds, while his cousin is a member of the Ohio State University football team.
Before we left there, Jim Habermehl, a native of Clarington, told us of his experiences as an official scorer for the Clippers. Jim was a pitcher for River High School in the 1960s, and also a coach for the Pilots before moving to the Columbus area.
Jim was the head basketball coach for Grove City for a number of years, and two years ago came out of retirement to be an assistant coach at Central Crossing High School in the Grove City school district. By the way, Central Crossing played John Marshall and Wheeling Creek this past season. A game scheduled against Linsly was rained out. While in the area, the Central Crossing team stayed at Grand Vue Park.
Getting back to Jim, he and his wife, Patty, who is a native of Bridgeport, had made arrangements to be a part of our trip.
We continued on our journey to Cincinnati, where, that evening, the Reds would be entertaining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Prior to the game there was an induction of three new members of the Reds Hall of Fame: Adam Dunn, Fred Norman and Dave Bristol.
Among the numerous hall of famers and alumni on hand were Pete Rose and Johnny Bench.
As to the game, the Pirates kept their winning string on the line by defeating the Reds, 9-2.
A big treat for our group was having club seats and club dining at both Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark and Cleveland’s Progressive Field, which meant that we didn’t have to worry about the weather, and also, we could eat through the seventh inning at both facilities.
The first stop on Day No. 2 was at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. It was a lot of walking, but for those who might need a wheel chair or scooter, they were available at no cost on a first-come basis.
You were on your own in making it through the different areas, with last exhibit being probably the best. This exhibit is a display of numerous aircraft which where were used by former presidents and vice presidents. You can even walk through these planes.
The mission of this museum is to “raise funds and awareness to support the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.”
The Air Force Museum store is a one-stop shop for one-of-a-kind, aviation-themed merchandise.
In addition to viewing planes, etc., there are simulators in two of the four buildings which house exhibits.
In building one there are displays dealing with early aviation and World War II planes; in building two there are planes from the Korean War and Southeast Asia War (Vietnam), in building three there are plants from the Cold War. There is a Missile Gallery between buildings three and four; the fourth building houses planes which transported presidents, with other exhibits dealing with global reach, space, and research and development.
After a 90-minute stop, there it was off to Columbus, where a picnic meal was served at Huntington Park, the home of the Clippers.
The Clippers, the Cleveland Indians AAA affilate, were entertaining the Scranton Rail Riders, a New York Yankee farm team.
Also, had an opportunity to visit the official scorers work place, and viewed some Clippers’ memorabilia. The Clippers have been the farm team for several big league teams over the years, including the Pirates, Yankees and Red Sox.
After breakfast on the third day, we arrived at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, also in Cleveland.
I would guess the majority of our group were in high school in the 1960s and early 1970s, and thus they probably enjoyed best the American Bandstand video hosted by Dick Clark, along with other attractions from that era. I had the opportunity to play a pinball machine of your choice. I did real well.
The next stop was at the former League Park/Baseball Heritage Museum at League Park.
League Park was built for the Cleveland Spiders, who were founded in 1887. and played first in the American Association before joining the National League in 1889
The park opened May 1, 1891, with a game against the Cincinnati Reds. The first pitch was made by Cy Young, and the Spiders won 12-3.
During their tenure, the Spiders finished as high as second place in the National League.
The Spiders were replaced by the Cleveland Lake Shores, then a minor league team in the American League.
The American League declared itself a major league team after the 1900 season and the Cleveland franchise, initially called the Blues, was a charter member for the 1901 season.
As to the park, it was rebuilt for the 1910 season.
According to Morris Eckhouse, special projects coordinator for the Baseball Heritage Museum, the field and two adjacent buildings are now a public park. A small section of the exterior brick facade along the first-base side still stands, as well as the old ticket office behind what was the right field corner.
The last remnant of the grandstand, crumbling and presumably unsafe, was taken down in 2003 as part of the renovation process.
On Feb. 7, 2011, the Cleveland City Council approved a plan to restore the ticket house and remaining bleacher wall, as well as build a new diamond on the site of the old one.
The community park was dedicated in Sept 2013 as the Fannie M. Lewis Community Park at League Park. Lewis, who lived in the area, was a city councilwoman who encouraged League Park’s restoration.
Restoration was completed in 2014, and League Park reopened in August of that year.
As part of the renovation, the Baseball Heritage Museum (housing artifacts from baseball history as well as many specifically from the history of League Park) was relocated from downtown Cleveland to the restored ticket house.
Eckhouse said that in the past four years, the number of visitors to the park has increased, and that the area itself has changed for the better
It just so happened that several members of our group had brought their bats and gloves, and as you might expect, there was some hitting going on for an hour or so.
An upcoming event at the Baseball Heritage Museum will focus on the local Baseball Book Club conducting two book club readings in honor of Roberto Clemente, which will take place on Aug. 18, his birthday. The book titles are “The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero” by David Maraniss, and for the youngsters, the book, “Who Was Roberto Clemente?” by James Buckley Jr.
After a brief rest, the group was up-and-running to Progressive Field, where the Indians were hosting, you guessed it, the Pirates.
The game was delayed 55 minutes by rain, but once the game got underway the Pirates jumped out to lead and never looked back, although there was another rain delay, and after resuming yet another rain delay occurred, and it was time to call it a night. It turned out the game never resumed.
The final score was Pirates 7, Indians 2.
Would you believe that in the more than 160 games the Uniglobe “team” has been involved in over the past 15 years, there has been only one game postponed, and that was in Pittsburgh?
Well we closed out our tour the next day a with yet another sports venue — that being the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton. I had been there on a few other occasions, but this time I found out that the items on display had changed a great deal, especially through advancement in electronics.
Our group members viewed the exhibits for some 90 minutes, with some of the group talking about returning in the future.
On the way home there was still talk about the NFL Hall of Fame, and seeing the bronze busts of Hall of Famers, and some of the rings that were on display.
Tuesday is the deadline for submitting an application to be on the November ballot for Moundsville City Council.
The terms on three individuals expire on Dec. 31. They are second ward council, currently held by David Wood; an at-large seat currently held by Allen Henderson; and a fourth ward seat currently held by Ginger DeWitt.
As of Friday morning, only four persons had returned applications. They were Dave Wood (second ward); Sara Wood (at-large); and for fourth ward, (one to be elected), Carl Boso and DeWitt.
Applications are to be dropped off at the city clerk’s by closing time (4 p.m.) on Tuesday).
The Ohio Valley Ford dealership in Moundsville changed ownership as of this past Thursday.
Straub Automotive announced they had finalized the purchase of the OVF dealership, located at 20 Jefferson Ave., (Jefferson Avenue Extension).
The Straub Automotive family of dealerships has been serving the communities in the Ohio Valley for more than 75 years.