Saturday, August 16, 2008

101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out

Ever since 1,000 Places to See Before You Die became such a smash hit, there have been an avalanche of books with a similar concept in many genres. I must admit I love these kind of books, so I was really eager to read 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out (clever title) by Josh Pahigian. Part of the appeal of these books is a) to see how many of these places you've been to; b) see which places the author deems to be worthy of inclusion and which you would have had on the list; c) and learn about some hidden gems that you should include on your personal list of must-see attractions. 

I was surprised to find that I've only hit 17 of the 101 places listed in the book, and that's only because last month I added Monument Park, the Yankee Tavern, and Babe Ruth's Grave to the list. I certainly have my work cut out for me. 

As for the places on the list, they are very eclectic, from the obvious (the Green Monster, Hall of Fame) to the obscure (Recreation Park in Visalia, California) to the commercial (Lenny Dykstra's Car Wash) to the bizarre (the infamous Alcor Life Extension Foundation).  I couldn't think of too many places I would have added. Probably would have had a couple more major league ballparks (there are far more minor league parks on the list) such as Dodger Stadium (the L.A. Memorial Coliseum where the Dodgers originally played is on the list) and PNC Park in Pittsburgh for the great ballpark, but the point wasn't to load it up to read like a major league road trip. I also would have included some sights in Japan (Koshien Stadium for one) and elsewhere around the world (San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic that has turned out an inordinate number of major leaguers and is known as the the "City of Shortstops"). 

Among the hidden gems in the book are the Crosley Field replica in Blue Ash, Ohio, the remains of Cleveland's League Park, and the site along the Delaware River where the mud  that is used to rub up the baseballs in the major league comes from, a gem so hidden that no one really knows where it is. 

Here are the places on the list with a Red Sox connection: The Green Monster, The Huntington Avenue Grounds on the campus of Northeaster (which has a statue of Cy Young), The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore, Babe Ruth's grave in Westchester County in New York, McCoy Stadium (home of the Pawtucket Red Sox), the Baseball Reliquary in Los Angeles (which displays quirky artifacts such as the thong of Margo Adams), the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame in Tropicana Field, Alcor, Mike Greenwell's Bat-a-Ball and Family Fun Park in Cape Coral, Florida, and Bucky Dent's Baseball School in Florida (which has a replica of the Green Monster). The Cape Cod League is on the list as is The Irvin Allen Jr. Braves Museum in Atlanta, which has artifacts from the Braves' former days in Boston.

If you're a baseball fan, this is a book you really want to check out. 

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