History and Baseball...Have I said that before?

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 29, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Monday, May 2, 2011

Woke up about 9:00 and headed to the free breakfast at Hampton. Then headed to Valley Forge. Well, I thought I was heading that way, but you see, I also checked to see how far Gettysburg was, and I accidentally put Gettysburg into my Garmin in stead of Valley Forge. Chalk that one up to old age, I guess. By the time I discovered my error, I didn't know where I was. However, you know how sometimes an error turns out to work in your favor? Well, I found myself in the little town of Concordville, PA. I knew that name...it's where State Farm has it's Pennsylvania (among other states) office. I had been there when we were bringing them onto the consolidated SF air program. And I drove right past the hotel where we had stayed. And then Jill (Garmin) took me left on a street and a right on State Farm Drive...and I drove right past the office.

Story time: I recall an airplane accident in September of 1994 when I was in charge of Air Travel at SF. A US Air flight went down on approach to Pittsburgh airport. It happened late in the afternoon as I recall, and I made a quick phone call to the new Ad Services Manager, Ken Harding (maybe?). I had received information from our travel agency that we had no SF passengers on that flight, and I told Ken that. He said thanks, and hung up. He called me back the next morning and thanked me profusely. He said, "You know, I took your phone call yesterday pretty much for granted, but when my RVP (Regional Vice President) walked into my office first thing this morning and asked me if we had anyone on that flight yesterday. I was happy to report that we had no one on that flight, and extremely happy that you called me yesterday afternoon to let me know of that fact." Sometimes you do good!

Once Jill and I got on the right track, we made it to Valley Forge (not Gettysburg). It's a beautiful place. Walking and riding trails throughout the whole park. It's a National Park which is massive.

Think about George Washington camping 12,000 to 20,000 troops during the winter of 1777-78. You see, armies back then didn't fight during the winter. They went to "Winter encampment." This was one of 12 Winter encampments of Colonial troops. This was a very important one, in that the colonists had lost Philadelphia to the British. It was close enough (15 miles) to Philly to keep an eye on British troops, but far enough away and rugged enough territory so as not to allow the British to mount a surprise attack. I took the Trolley Tour and it was average at best. I knew right away it was not run by the National Park Service. They were a vendor of the NPS giving 90 minute trolly ride tours of the area. If I were you, I'd skip the trolly tour ($16) and do the self-guided tour.

Be that as it may, it was filled with history. The suffering of the soldiers during the long, cold winter, the lack of supplies, the training of the colonial troops by Prussian Barron Von Steuben, and the eventual coming of Spring and Summer when the Colonials used that training to defeat the British at their next two encounters. The Washington statue at his headquarters was a highlight.

Then it was back to the hotel and on to a Philly cheesesteak before meeting Laura at the game. I chose Pat's. Later this week, I'll have Geno's! Excellent, but not an inexpensive sandwich...hard roll, beef, cheese whiz, and onions...fries and a drink (at the next window!) and for $15, you've got a meal. It was delicious.

Made my way to the game. Gametime was 8:05. Laura had church intil about 7:00 and wouldn't be there until about 7:30. I entered the ballpark area and parked...$15 and I was maybe 200 yards from the gate. You see, Philly did this right...best of any ballpark. They put the Phillies (baseball), the Eagles (football), the Flyers (hockey) and the 76'ers (basketball) all in the same area, so THEY SHARE THE PARKING!!! I could have walked to any of those stadiums from where I parked easily. What a great idea. That's why they can charge $15 and get you close. Props to Philadelphia here! Best I've seen.

Went to lucky ticket counter #13 and spoke to a very nice lady. Asked if she had tickets for tonight's game and she said, yes. (I was relieved...heard it might be a sell out and I'd have to scalp some for the first time.) She asked how many and much I wanted to spend. I said, two and $50 - $75. She looked and then got a surprised look on her face, and said, "Have I got some tickets for you. I have never see these tickets for sale before." For $65 each, we got tickets about 20 rows behind the Phillies dugout. I gladly took them.

Before Laura showed up, I went down to the ESPN area (it was Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN) and I saw the celebities, including John Kruk and Bobby Valentine. Very cool.

Met Laura and went into the park. What a beautiful ballpark. Great seats and if not a sellout, close...lucky to get these seats at that price. Great family of a husband, wife and little 2-year old kid settled in the seats in front of us. Usually a 2-year old would not be a candidate for my traditional baseball, but as the night went on this kid won my
(and Laura's) heart. Cute as a button and so well-behaved. Never saw him fuss, whine, or anything...always smiling. As he and his parents left in the 10th inning, I gave him the ball. The kid was happy and the parents appreciative. It's about the kids!

Oh yea, the game. Took 14 innings, but the Mets finally won 2-1. I was 5-1 for the home team going into the Yankee game...I am now 5-4 and have lost 3 in a row.

But the highlight of the evening was in the 9th inning. This guy sitting next to me literally jumped out of his seat and said, "We just killed Usama Bin Laden!" We high-fived and congratulated each other (not that I usually cheer when someone dies, but in this circumstance, when he caused so much anguish and suffering to Americans, I couldn't help but cheer!) and the guy spread the news to others around us. Pretty soon, the entire ballpark was chanting , "USA, USA, USA." What an interesting and bizarre occurrence. I'll never forget this game for that reason if nothing else.

I think tomorrow night when I hear or sing the National Anthem before the game or God Bless America in the 7th inning which, incidentally as become a tradition at many baseball parks, I'll sing it loud and sing it proud. God Bless America!

At least I'll remember where I was when I heard the news.

It was almost 1:30 am when we got out of the park and I took Laura home, and then it was back to my hotel...and even then, I couldn't sleep and watched the coverage on TV until probably 3:00 am. I slept under the security of the United States Armed Forces tonight! Got bless them all!
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Kent Krause on

Amazing story, Dave. Valley Forge, Cheese Steak, Baseball, and the death of a tyrant. God bless America!

Mike Dahlkamp on

Geno's has the best Philly Cheese Steak in town...and take a tour of Gettysburg on the way home...well worth the detour...or better yet, come on down south and see me...only 3 1/2 hours down I-95....

dblegldave on

Amen brother!!! And I'll write more soon. Last night's Wash. Nationals game was Military Appreciation Night...very cool!!

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