Heading to the Hall

Herkimer, NY

Herkimer, NY

As a few of you may have noticed, I’ve been gone a while. The wife and I flew up to see our son, daughter-in-law, and two of the grandchildren (the other is at Ft. Bliss playing soldier). Well, it’s only a handful of hours from their house to Cooperstown, so we decided to head over there so I could finally visit the Hall of Fame (my son was a veteran of Hall visits already). Our daughter-in-law isn’t much of a sports fan (I keep trying to get my son to remedy this failing in her life, but so far no luck) so she stayed home with the kids and we made it a nuclear family trip, just my wife, son, and I.

We left on a Friday morning in my son’s fully paid for (hooray) Ford. We threw a couple of changes of clothes, a few toiletry items, a book (in my case on Greek Tyranny, not baseball) in the hatchback, piled in with my wife riding shotgun and me as the guy in the backseat. It took several hours to get there so we were able to have a long conversation with our son. He’s planning a major career change and we were able to talk with him about it. Mostly nuts and bolts stuff, not philosophical reasoning for the change, but you have to know how you’re going to go about the thing and how it will change the family, both his and ours. We got a pretty good sense of how this is going to work and hopefully it will all come out fine in the wash.

We ended up staying in Herkimer, New York, which is on the Interstate about 40 miles north of Cooperstown and just far enough away to be reasonably inexpensive. OK, it’s not the Garden Spot of the Western World, but it seems like a nice enough town with a handful of sights to see, a reasonable collection of restaurants and fast food joints, and an assortment of motels. We got a fairly cheap place (about $100.00 a night) which did the job. It was simple, clean, the plumbing worked, and the bed had no bugs. OK, that’s not much of an endorsement, but I look for a motel room to do those things and not much else. If I’ve rented a motel room the odds are I’m asleep if I’m actually in the room; in which case both cheap and expensive motels look just alike–black.. And when I’m not in the room why do I care what it looks like? If you’re from Oklahoma the 100 bucks will get you a damned nice room, so the sticker shock (or maybe culture shock) was significant. Around here for $100 you can buy a third of the place, not just rent one room.

We slid on down to Cooperstown in the late afternoon, but it was too late to visit The Hall. It gave us a chance to look over the town, get our bearings as to where everything was, and plan how to do the next day (including figure out where to park). I’ll put up thoughts on the town later.

It was late enough that we decided to have dinner in Cooperstown. Some guy told us the best place to eat was an Italian restaurant called Toscana Italian Fusion and Grill. We weren’t quite sure what you fused Italian food with, but decided to give it a shot. Nice enough place. The cook even came out to greet us. The food was good enough but I’m not sure what fusion was going on. Then came the bill, $68 for three of us. Now, it was a good meal, but around here you can get three steaks the size of half a cow for $68 (did I mention that the Central New York area is expensive?). On top of that you had to tip the waitress. I seriously considered telling her to plant her corn in the spring (which is a legit tip, right?), but eventually added cash to the check. As for it being “the best place to eat” in town, we thought it was OK but I decided that if it truly was “best” then either the food in town was only OK or the guy who told us to try it had weakened taste buds.

Then back in Herkimer, we settled in for the night. It was, in most ways, the best part of the day. My son and I just simply sat around and talked baseball. We talked current baseball events, talked historical baseball, talked speculative baseball, talked about just anything that came to our minds. I loved it, and he seemed happy too, despite missing his family. My wife sat in the corner halfheartedly reading a  book, but mostly just taking in the simple family nature of the evening.

Next time, I hit The Hall.

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11 Responses to “Heading to the Hall”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    V, reads kind of like an Andy Rooney writeup of a vacation. (I’m a big fan of Andy Rooney’s writing, incidentally!) Nice, dry humor intertwined in the writing!

    100 dollars in Herkimer? Surely, you could have done better. I know the area; I was a camp counselor in nearby Remsen, at Camp Northwood. It was and is a wonderful camp for learning disabled, hyperactive, and mildly autistic kids. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I wish that I had gone there as a camper. (I was learning disabled and hyperactive, to say the least.)

    It is a beautiful area. Utica ain’t that great (an old friend of mine who came from the area said that it is so full of Mafia, it was known locally as “Sin City”. (Actually, since I moved to the southern part of Brooklyn from Queens, we probably have much more Mafia down here, for sure, but it’s the RUSSIAN Mafia.) Utica is also the home of former Pirates second baseman Dave Cash.

    Did you pass through Poland, Hinckley, and Remsen? Is the Remsen Bar and Grill still in Remsen? (Great pizza there; I had to eat only pizza there, because I was too young to drink when that summer.)

    Yes. I love that area.

    You forgot one “must” for a motel room. If the air-conditioning works, then I’m happy.

    Glen

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Whoops. How did I screw THAT up? It’s the NORTHWOOD Bar and Grill, which is in Remsen.

    Glen

  3. The Baseball Idiot Says:

    Baseball. Bringing families together since 1841. That’s worth more than back-to-back no-hitters.

  4. William Miller Says:

    Looking forward to your take on the HOF. I’ve been there twice, but not since the strike year of ’94. A whole bunch of guys have been inducted since then. Gotta get back there.
    Yeah, New York is expensive. Once paid $7.00 for a glass of orange juice in a hotel in Manhattan, and that was back in the late ’70’s. It would probably be 12 bucks today.
    Have a safe remainder of your trip.
    -Bill

  5. glenrussellslater Says:

    In answer to your comment, Bill, yes, New York is expensive, but V was not IN New York City, he was in UPSTATE New York, and there’s a tremendous difference with New York City and upstate New York. They couldn’t BE more different. Upstate New York might very well be less expensive to live in than South Carolina. He was in a rural area, on top of that. The only reason that it was so expensive, really, was that it was only forty miles from Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you own a motel that is near a tourist attraction, you have the luxury of jacking up your prices; it’s the law of supply and demand. The same thing is true in places like the New Windsor area; they are near West Point, and they jack up their prices, especially during graduations and because people generally go to West Point as a tourist attraction. People upstate hate New York City as much as any South Carolinian does, believe me. I KNOW. I know upstate cities in New York as much as anybody does; I lived in Albany, Syracuse, also in the Poughkeepsie area and in Kingston, as well, and my sister lived in Plattsburgh and lives in Binghamton. The populations of the cities drop off considerably after New York City and Buffalo, believe me; cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, and the others that I mentioned these cities have as much in common with New York City as Barry Bonds has with Bud Harrelson, and even more so in the case of a small town like Herkimer.

    It’s so silly, and it gets to me, when people assume that when they see a car pull into their town with New York license plates, that they so often assume that the car is carrying “New Yawkas” (like I am), but nothing could be further from the truth. If you look at a map of the state of New York, you’ll see that the five boroughs that make up New York City take up very little of the state. Also, the population is over 19,000,000; New York City has a population of about 8,000,000, so people from New York City take up only about 40 percent of the population of the state; the rest of the people from the state who DON’T live in New York City make up about 60 percent of the population.

    Sorry, just venting about a pet peeve of mine!

    Glen

  6. wkkortas Says:

    I have a friend who is going to the induction ceremonies this weekend–she asked me if I had any tips to get in and out of Cooperstown, and I told her to do what I do, which is to go in January.

  7. Precious Sanders Says:

    I am incredibly jealous. I hope that a HoF visit is in my future very soon, as I am dying to go.

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