Friday, May 27, 2011

Take me out to the Ballgame...My love affair with baseball

The world recently lost one of Baseballs’ all time great players, Harmon Kilebrew. It gave me pause to recall my experiences with the game, my love affair, if you will.

Many would argue that baseball is no longer America’s pastime. I respectfully disagree. Rarely do you hear of baseball players overdosing at clubs, beating up their wives or getting DUI’s. Oh sure, you can consider Pete Rose. Although, you have to respect what he brought to the game prior to all that.

I grew up in Detroit, which has always been a big baseball town. Tiger Stadium was  a cathedral dedicated to the game. Baseball was as much a part of my childhood as school or church or breathing.  I can remember watching Game of the Week on a Sears Silvertone black and white portable TV. I knew the players names, hometowns, and batting averages  from the backs of the baseball cards I collected and traded. My best friend, who lived across the alley had a brother who became a professional baseball player.

I remember sitting on the glider on a hot summer evening with my father in our backyard under the cherry tree. The aroma of freshly cut grass in the air. Neighbors passing by asking, “What’s the score?“ He would have a cold Stroh’s beer and I would have a Faygo Rock & Rye pop. I can still recall the voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell and his partner, George Kell.

Baseball players may not be better educated or exceptional men, but from personal experience, the players I have met have been darn nice guys. One of my sweetest memories happened at Comerica Park after a game. My son wanted an autograph from one of his favorite players, Lance Parrish, who was now a coach for the Tigers. After the game, we went to the designated area in the parking lot and waited for at least an hour. Slowly, the players emerged from the clubhouse. A few put their heads down and made a beeline for their vehicles. My son spotted Lance. There were quiet pleas from the well behaved crowd of “Lance, Lance, please Lance”. Lance Parrish looked tired. He walked over to his vehicle, put down his soda can and wallet and came over to the excited crowd. My son not only got his autograph and also a picture, but he took the time to speak with at least 20 others who were gathered.  He was not the only player to do so. There were 5 or 6 others who took a few minutes to appreciate their fans.

Baseball is an “All American” game. Wherever the players are from. Cincinnati or the Dominican Republic. The tiny “T-ball” players or Minor Leaguers. From the singing of the National Anthem to the 7th inning stretch. From the first pitch to the last out. Abner Doubleday would still be delighted to play his game.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ya'll come on down......

Yard Sales in the south are as traditional as sweet tea and fried green tomatoes. Here in Alabama, yard and garage sales can be found about 9 months out of the year. Bargain hunters young and old, embark in search of clothing, toys, furnishings, and sundries that the owner no longer wishes to keep. Proving the old adage that “one man’s trash is another mans treasure.”

The discriminating hunter can find antiques and bargains galore. Some items are beautifully displayed, some are merely tossed haphazardly on blankets on the ground. Still others are found in  stacks of plastic totes or cardboard boxes.  My key advice is dress comfortably and be prepared to dig.

Comfort is most important. The weather in the south can be very unpredictable. Ranging from quite cool to very hot in a matter of hours. It is best to be prepared for rain or shine. Layering is a must. Start with a good sunscreen add a tank or tee shirt, then add an over-shirt or sweatshirt. Don’t forget hats and  sunglasses. Its an excellent idea to bring along a change of shoes.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Soda Pop and Beer DO NOT hydrate your body. Water or a sports drink will do the job. If you have ever suffered from dehydration--you will know what I mean.

In many areas there will not be rest stops or bathroom facilities. Many of the gas stations along the way are not prepared to handle a crowd. They will be marked “out of order”. Be prepared for porta-potties with antibacterial wipes, extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Always have a plan. Bring a list of item you are searching for. Bring cash. Most vendors do not accept checks and are not prepared for credit cards. If you are traveling more than 50 miles it is a good idea to make lodging arrangements.

It is a great idea to  print out a “route” complete with maps, especially if you are traveling into unfamiliar territory. This is in addition to a your GPS. However, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.

Always remember to bring sunscreen, a first aid kit, toilet paper, an ice chest, string or twine, Ziploc bags, measuring tape, and CASH. None of these take up a lot of room and you WILL need at least one of them, trust me.

Be prepared to “dicker”. If you see an item and its more than you want to pay, make an offer. The seller can always refuse. If you spot an item you must have--buy it when you see it. It will not be there when you go back.

Don’t overlook the many organizations along the way that will have fresh fruit, vegetables and home baked goodies. Most will be selling for church groups and charities.

Most importantly, have fun!

The worlds longest yard sale is held August 4-7 this year. It runs along Hwy 127 from Hudson, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama. Maps and vendor information can be accessed at

The 411 yard sale is held  annually from the last Wednesday in September through the first Saturday in October. It runs from Leeds, Alabama to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Information is available at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce website.