Sunday, September 28, 2008

Days 49 & 50, Cooperstown, Rhode Island & NYC, The Finale

The very cool town I wake up in is Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I wish I could say the hotel I wake up in- the Red Carpet Inn- is very cool too, but that would be a lie. Don't get me wrong, the Inn tries, but ultimately loses me with the fruit fly convention and long blond hairs on the sink that clearly are not mine. But heck, I'm not hear to take a long bath or to write a review for a travel magazine, I'm here to see history. The Red Carpet Inn scores big in two important categories, however: proximity to the HOF (about 3 miles) and cost (approximately $60). I've been to the Hall twice before but not at the end of an amazing trip to 30 ballparks and certainly not since the most recent Yankee dynasty. The Hall is loaded with Yankee artifacts (big surprise) with one of my favorites being the original bill of sale of Babe Ruth when he was sold to the Yankees by the Red Sox for about 25 grand. This deal comes in a CLOSE second to trading Manhattan for a couple of strands of beads in the all-time 'worst trades' category. The HOF also has an exhibit on stadiums and fans which I find quite interesting, especially the exhibit highlighting trips just like mine done by other fans! (mine is cooler, of course, because I did it twice AND drove an amazing Jeep both times). I get suckered in to becoming a Hall of Fame member by a very nice women at the gift shop and part with even more money and get more things in return that I will both never read or use. Other highlights will visiting the Hall include having AMEX call me to tell me they "like how I handle my card (i.e. use it A LOT) and want to upgrade me to a platinum membership, posing for a picture with a Yankee 'holy cow', seeing Babe Ruth's 60th HR ball and having an amazing cajun cheddar burger at the Triple Play luncheonette before skipping town. I leave about 2:30 as I have semi-ambitious plans to catch Yankees/Red Sox at Fenway, which is a four hour drive. Rain threatens to wash away the whole weekend, but I figure it would be a great way to close the trip if I can pull it off. The rain comes down hard as I travel on the back roads and then eventually Route 90 towards Boston. I decide the game in this weather will not be fun and head for Westerly, Rhode Island instead to pick up my little buddy Sammy, the Pomeranian. My friends- Janell and Drew- are glad to see me and to also give me back my 14 pound garbage disposal who has eaten nearly everything in their apartment over the last 7 weeks. We have dinner at the 99 Grill (something like that) where the waitress, Justine, takes great interest in both my camera and some of the stories she overhears me telling Janell and Drew. We catch the end of the Yankees 19-8 blow out of the Sox and I fall asleep about 1:00. I'm up by 7:00 on Saturday and on the road by 8:00. I'm back in New York by 10:30 and am happy that I have officially made it. I have just enough time to drop Sammy off at the dog sitter and make it to Rye, New York where I am scheduled to film a wedding. (Photo with thumb up). The trip is finally over. Done. Kaput. Complete. Quite frankly, when I left, I was not so sure I would finish. I had no time to reschedule rain-outs, no back-up plan if the very old Jeep broke down, no spare key if I lost or broke the key and no idea if I would have either the stamina or interest to finish the trip a second time. Well, I did. And I had a hell of a time doing it. I met a lot of amazing people at the ballparks and other places. I filmed a lot of great stuff and unique people that I hope will make an enjoyable movie. No matter what happens, thanks for reading and thanks for riding along. Please keep in touch and pester me often so that "Twice in Lifetime" will be in theaters near you sooner rather than later! I will try to get something up on here every week or so with updates on book/movie progress and/or any other exciting developments in my rather mundane normal life. Stay tuned! Tim..... PS, if you've been reading regularly, please shoot me an e-mail to the address above as it's hard for me to track and I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Days 47 & 48; Toronto & Beyond: September 24 & 25

The journey continues.... I hoped that I could end the blog with the last game of the 30 ballpark adventure, but there is still more work to do. I have to get back to New York to REALLY make this official. Not to mention that some of my readers sent me angry e-mails when their daily trip to left them with the same story as yesterday. I will get you a few more days of this thing as I still have a few things up my sleeve. And for the hardcore readers, I will try to publish at least one post a week about whatever problems (mostly) and successes (hopefully a few) I encounter on a daily and weekly basis in my "normal life" if in NYC. Waking up yesterday was not easy. I could have slept all day with all the traveling and running around I have been doing, but Dave makes me get up to go to his Digital Dreams Photo/Video Studio in Toronto. A highlight is meeting Junior Feather World Champion, Steve "The Canadian Kid" Molitor, who is at the studio filming a commercial. "You're a big dude," he says to me. "Do you box?" I call the Blue Jays media relations to tell them of my trip and ask for a free ticket to the night's game. They tell me they will leave a ticket at will call for me. Before the game, I pick up a few pieces of poster board and a very fat, black magic marker to make up some signs. (See photo) Clearly Picasso is not worried that my art will one day send his to the toilet. My seat is great but I move down to the first row where I sit for most of the game. Highlights include talking to Yankee pitcher Phil Coke (pictured), getting great photos of the Yankees, not having to interview anyone for the documentary and drinking two $10 Bud Lights. Phil Hughes out-pitches A.J. Burnett (double wow!) and the Yanks win courtesy of a grand slam in the 10th inning by Bobby Abreu. Without a working GPS, I take a good hour to get back to Jason and Dave's house and am asleep by 1:00. I'm up by 6:30, though, as I have a LONG day ahead! I stop in Niagra Falls first thing for some photos and mist. It's a good way to end my stay in Canada, but I'm pissed that it takes almost a half hour to find the bridge to get out of Canada! The way the signs are set up I feel like the Canadians are trying to steal Americans by making it impossible for them to find their way home. Once I finally cross the bridge (with my duty free booze safely in hand), I cruise on 90 East with the goal to get to Cornell to visit my cousin, Erin, a freshman. I meet Erin about 2:00 and we find a reasonable restaurant for lunch. I drop her off at class and then venture to the bookstore to buy some boxers as I have just run out of clean underwear. The $18 boxers are not what the doctor ordered, but I buy them anyway. The very helpful girls at checkout insist that they are high quality and worth the price. I get suckered in by a fraternity to play their version of a "Price is Right" game, in which I climb a ladder and drop whiffle balls. Although they are impressed with my high score, all I walk away with is a 50 cent bag of M & Ms. I hope my $3 goes to a worthy cause. I drive three hours east where I settle in at a very dodgy motel in a VERY cool town, that I will keep secret until the next post!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 46; The Rogers Centre, Toronto; September 23

So you actually thought I wasn't going to make it to all 30? Fat chance! Of course it is all not roses and ice cream getting to Toronto from Baltimore. I wake up in Baltimore about 7:00 and have a 9:00 flight to Detroit, where my car is presumably parked at the airport. Instead of spending the $40 on a shuttle, I opt for the Baltimore light rail, which is a cool $1.60 a ride. I wait close to a half hour for the right train which arrives at 8:!5. Again, my flight is at 9:00. Is anyone actually surprised that this is how my last day will go? If you are surprised, please reread blog from the start and/or get your sanity checked by a professional. I arrive at the airport at 8:35 and race through the terminal as fast as I possibly can. It does not help that Southwest is as far away as humanly possible from where the train lets me off. Miraculously there is no line at security so I get through in under 5 minutes. As I ride the people mover I realize that my rolling suitcase is still at security. I run the wrong way on the people mover- moving surprised people out of my way physically- and pick up my very angry bag. I get to the gate at 8:45 and they are just boarding. Thank God this is my last flight! I am in Detroit by 10:30 and at my car by 10:45. I turn the key and the Jeep starts! I assumed it would not as this is the last day and I do want to get to Toronto, but it comes through for me AGAIN! My next fear is crossing the border. I have so much crap in the car it looks like I'm moving to Canada. I decide to take the tunnel instead of the bridge. This route takes me past the casinos in Detroit. "Just one hour of blackjack," I think to myself... I pass because I assume my car will be stripped bare once exiting the casino. I gas up right behind Comerica Park ironically. There is a Subway in the gas station with bullet proof freaking glass in front of the sandwich makers! Only in Detroit people, only in Detroit! The customs agent asks me some questions and I answer them at about 75% truth. "You say live in NYC but your license says NJ? You have a knife in the car? Is it a switchblade? Are you planning to work in Canada? Why do you have eight bags of stuff in your backseat?" The list goes on, but she lets me in without checking the car! I cruise up 401 East toward Toronto and enjoy all the signs the government has on the side of the road to warn you not to do anything bad. "Do not speed--or else. Do not fall asleep-- or else. Do not drink and drive- or else." French and English. I stop for lunch at Mr. Sub- a famed Canadian chain and home to the world's greatest sub. I am in Toronto by 5:00 but because of wrong turns and traffic, I do not get to the Stadium until after 6:00. I interview some locals and keep my eye out for tickets. I need three as I'm meeting my friends- Dave and Jason. The game is against the Yankees (yeah!) but tickets are plentiful. A scalper offers to sell me 3 behind the dugout for $50 and I offer him $40. He is not happy. "Why don't you bend me over first, reach around grab my t--s, and f--k me in the ?!? while you are at it! And Jeter sucks you a--hole!" That is the G-Rated version of what he says. Everyone stops and watches us. I walk away and buy 3 for a much better deal from some regular fans. The scalper is probably still yelling. Our seats are great and I am in. It's official! I wanted to get to all 30 parks and I have done it! I order some nachos and a beer. It's kind of cool to finish in Toronto as it's also where I finished when I did the trip 10 years ago. The Yankees are in a fierce battle with the Jays for third place. (Ouch). Mussina pitches well and Mariano saves it. It's over. It's really over. Not only for me, but for the Yanks. Boston wins and the Yankees are officially eliminated. It's been a long time (1993) since they didn't make the playoffs, so it's a hard pill to swallow. I have a few days left to get back to New York but I'm going to take a day off tomorrow and do something I enjoy- I'm going to Yankees/Blue Jays! Thanks for reading and following along. I will probably document the last few days of the trip as I have a few surprise stops of interest on the way home. I will also be updating after that with any progress on the movie. Stay tuned and keep in touch!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 45: Camden Yards, Baltimore; September 22

Today is day 45. It's the magical number that has been on top of this blog since day one. It's finally here except that there is one small problem: Baltimore is only ballpark number 29, and there are 30 MLB parks. Should I continue? Should I just quit at 29 and call it a trip? I'll have to hear what my readers have to say and then I will decide. I think 29 is fine, though. I can live with it. Anyway, I wake up about 8:00 and get some errands done in NYC before I catch the 11:00 MVP Chinatown special bus to Baltimore. The ride is surprisingly comfortable and I actually get a lot of work done. This road trip isn't official unless I take at least one bus ride, so I'm happy to be on the MVP southbound. I get to Baltimore about 3:00 and realize I am pretty much in the middle of the ghetto. This is no NYC Canal Street packed with tourists. The street I'm on is filled with locals and they don't like the looks of me. I hail a cab and feel like I'm in a third world country as the guy flies through lights in his barely-working car. I take a business call in the back and the driver- clearly aware I'm on a call for at least five minutes- decides to turn on the radio at full blast at the most crucial part of the call. "What are you doing?" I ask, in a tone that should not be confused with nice. He drops me at the Radisson downtown and I check into the $110 room I reserved on Hotwire two days earlier. As I organize my stuff and strip down to my boxers to change clothes, my door opens. "What the hell are you doing in my room?" I ask a guy standing there looking right back at me in my skivvies. "It's my room," he says. "They just gave me a key to 1408". I am not happy. The guy leaves and I articulate my aggravation in a tone slightly less nice than the one I used with crazy cabbie. "Sir, we will look into what we can do to make your stay better," The manager says as I leave for the game. I eat some pizza from Mario's and grab a couple "2 for $5" beers outside the stadium. I enjoy the monument of Baltimore native, Babe Ruth, and the fact that I get a free club level ticket from a couple I interview (Steven and Carrie pictured above). I sneak down behind home plate which is VERY easy. I settle about ten rows behind home plate where I stay until the 5th inning, at which point both pitchers still have no hitters! By the time I get to the Club Level seats in 272, the no- hitters are over BUT club level has ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT food with the ticket! I grab an ice cream bar, nachos and and a soda. I joke that I will take 12 ice creams and the woman says, "You can take what you want- we don't care!" Nice! The Orioles try their best not to win and accommodate the Rays who grab the win and move one step closer to clinching first place. The other highlight of the night is getting a call from the Radisson night manager who tells me that Hotwire has comped my room. What a great way to end the trip on my last night! Last night you ask? Yes it is. It's day 45 so it's officially over. No more blogging, video-taping, racing across the country at break-neck speed. Done. Thanks for coming along for the ride. I have made it to 29 out of 30 in 45 days. Not bad for the second time around. I hope you all have amazing lives. Please keep in touch and write me often. Goodbye..... PS, If anyone has ever been to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, please tell me a little about it. I would love to know more since I missed it.

Day 44: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx; September 21

Today will be the last time I ever wake up and go to a Yankee game at Yankee Stadium. Wow. It's hard to think that after all the years/tears/jeers and CHAMPIONSHIPS, this will be the last time I will walk through the gates into the cathedral of baseball on 161st and River Ave. in the Bronx. The game isn't until 8:30, but I get up there close to 2:00 because they are letting fans on the field between 1:00 and 4:00. I am in line no more than five minutes when a wave of angry fans pass us, "No more field access. No more monument park. They've shut down the line." Damn it. I've been a season ticket holder for 10 years and ALWAYS put off the stadium tour. This was my LAST chance to see things up close and I BLEW it! It is par for my golf course, however, if you have been reading this blog, so please do not feign shock out of sympathy. I head to my favorite place for a pre-game meal- the Courthouse Diner- and grab a gyro and split pea soup. It's only about 3:30 when I finish eating so I head to legendary Stan's Sports Bar - right across from the stadium- for 1 or 2 beers (actually 10 but who is counting). The Bud Lights go down so easy as the rowdy bar watches the Giants comeback win and the TV shows blimp shots of Yankee Stadium. (to raucous applause!). I need to interview people for the documentary but the beer tastes SO good and I'm starting to feel even better. I pray the image stabilizer on my camera works extra well today as I speak with an 82 year old Neil from Yonkers, who tells me that DiMaggio was 'a good ballplayer'. Neil wins the understatement of the year contest however he redeems himself with a story of drinking Babe Ruth under the table at an upstate bar in the 1940's. Fans are desperate for tickets and I am desperate for more Bud Light. Scott- the guy I drove up the west coast with two weeks ago- meets me in front of Stan's about 6:30. We drop my bag off at the bowling alley (no video cameras and no bags allowed) and head into the ballpark to meet Stonge for our final Yankee Stadium goodbye. I have had seats for 10 years in section 39 of the bleachers so I know all the regulars so it's tough to think this will be our last time together out here. Security is quadrupled because of looting fears, so I ask an NYPD officer where I can store my hacksaw during the game as it is too big to fit under my seat. He has a good laugh but I am kind of serious. I need to take something home! The pre-game ceremony is long but great as Yankee legends past and present are introduced and serenaded by adoring fans. The Yankees fall behind early and my lack of sleep is starting to catch up to me. I doze off (picture above taken by Scott) and fans to my right and behind me start laughing and taking photos. "You don't know where I've been- what I've done!" I plead, as the laughter continues. Johnny Damon blasts a three run home run followed by a solo shot by Jose Molina. There is no way the Yankees are losing this one! When Mariano comes in through the bullpen for the final time in the 9th inning, the we all know the 7-3 victory is sealed. The players congregate on the field and Jeter addresses the crowd before leading the team around the field for a victory/goodbye lap. Cops flood the field to stop streakers but that doesn't stop a determined few who make the leap and get pummeled. (much to the delight of those in the stands.) No one wants to leave. Fans linger for photos and to take it all in one last time. I don't want to leave- ever- but finally do at 12:30. Yankee Stadium, I'm going to miss you. Rest in Peace.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 43; NYC, September 20


There are a lot of "supposed to's" today. I was supposed to go to a Blue Jays game. I was supposed to be done with ballpark 28. I was supposed to be eating Canadian bacon in Canada today. I was supposed to take off from Detroit to NYC at 6:15, but because of a malfunction we have to change planes and don't leave Detroit until nearly 8:00. As soon as I hit my seat, I pass out. I awake to the sound of airplane wheels hitting runway and the stewardess saying, "Thank you for flying Northwest and welcome to Detroit!" Detroit?!?!? I am supposed to be in NYC... I think. Did I sleep all the way out to NYC and then fly back to Detroit again on the return flight without being woken up?? I frantically search for answers from a guy sitting next to me. Turns out, I am in NYC and the stewardess just made a verbal typo. Don't tease me like that! I have about 5 hours before my wedding starts and use every minute of it to run errands like showering and meeting a potential client at my studio, picking up my tickets to the last Yankee game at my friend Eric's apartment, picking up my suit from Ed's apartment and grabbing lunch at my favorite pizza place in the world, Zesty's. I meet my assistant, Adam at the wedding and shoot for 10 hours. I do OK except for falling asleep standing up during the first dance. A normal human would then probably go to bed but I meet Stonge at the bar with highlights including sampling a very strong Mickey Mantle drink, reminiscing about sleeping a few nights earlier and passing out in the back of a limo as we ride 10 blocks for $25 because I am literally falling asleep as we walk. I offer the driver $20 when we get out and his reply makes a whole lot of sense. "Sir, you can't renegotiate the rate after the ride." Makes sense. Tomorrow will be the best day of the trip hands down: Yankee Stadium and it's last game are on the agenda!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 42; My personal Hell, September 19

My cell phone alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. and I quickly throw on some clothes and give my teeth a quick scrub. I think of the movie 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' and feel I will be writing the sequel today. I take the metro to the airport where I catch my 6:50 flight with a few minutes to spare. I am off to Minneapolis to pick up the Jeep but for some stupid reason, I booked a flight with a 2 1/2 hour layover in FREAKING ATLANTA! Atlanta??? Don't ask! I still can't remember why ($$$) I did that!!! Anyway, I make it to Minneapolis about 1:00 central time and the Jeep in good working order after a week of rest. I am the master of two lane highways as I head east for St. Ignace, Michigan. Why am I am going there you ask? Another good question! I was supposed to be going to Toronto today with my friend, Stonge, but I have to head back to NYC to fill in for one of my videographers whose mother fell ill. I'm picking up Stonge in upper peninsula of Michigan and we are heading for the Detroit airport for 6 a.m. flights to NYC. The GPS goes out as soon as I hit Wisconsin so I have to rely on maps which is not good. I get lost a few times and call my father for help but he is too busy getting ready to golf or something to assist me. Night falls and I'm still not in Michigan. A deer jumps in front of the Jeep and I jam the breaks. The Jeep does a wicked fishtale left and right and I end up backward in an embankment facing oncoming traffic. The good news is now I really know what a deer in the headlights looks like. The bad news is that my hair goes immediately from brown to salt pepper and the Jeep is in an embankment. I am in a Jeep so I pull out of the embankment and continue on my two-lane paradise and through a small town called Escanada where I notice my lights are not on. Before I can turn them on, the red and blue lights I see in my rearview mirror are blinding me. The office is VERY nice and let s me go with little hassle. I did not even have to waste any energy and use my Jedi mind trick either! He advises that I fill up with gas as I will hit a long stretch of 'nothing' before reaching Stonge in St. Ignace. I pull into Timmy Lee's Pub about 12:45 and Stonge is waiting for me with duffel packed under the Timmy Lee Pub sign. We grab a quick picture with Timmy Lee and hit the road on 75 South. The trip over the Mackinac Bridge (suspended 200 plus feet over the Great Lakes) is quite scary as it feels the a reasonable gust of wind could blow the Jeep right over the side. My flight is at 6:15 and the drive is at least 4 1/2 hours. About 2 hours outside of St. Ignace, my GPS returns and tells me we are still nearly 4 hours away. Stonge and I disagree and get there in less than two. I even have a few minutes to repack my bags and tidy up the Jeep and actually get to the gate with plenty of time to spare. I write this from the seat of the plane where we wait to take off. My sleep for tonight will be whatever I get on this plane ride. Please pray for me....PS, I just want to remind you that I SKIPPED Toronto today. Guess I am only going to make it to 29 of the 30 parks. Oh, well. Close but no cigar. Better luck next time I guess.