I've hit the 2/3's point on the trip! Thank you, Cleveland! I landed this morning, and made the obligatory stop at the laundromat. An hour later, I was equipped with a full compliment of clean clothes, and ready for ballpark #20. I checked into my usual Cleveland haunt, the Key Center Marriott, and lay down to recharge the batteries. After a good nap, I fixed up my sign, and headed toward Progressive Field. I was looking forward to this. The Indians were kind enough to offer me a ticket to their social media suite. I'd be hanging out with baseball bloggers, who would hopefully help spread the message of my journey.
The suite had a great view from above 1st base. All the attendees introduced themselves, signed in on the chalkboard, and got ready for baseball. These are hardcore baseball fans, so hanging out and chatting was a real pleasure. And I met one guy with a great story. Luke Murphy is a math teacher, who lives in Toledo. He played college basketball for Hofstra University, and afterwards, was able to get a gig playing pro hoops. No, not in the NBA, or in Europe. Luke played for the Washington Generals. For those of you not familiar, the Generals are the team that plays the Harlem Globetrotters. And they lose every game. Intentionally. Luke told me his record as a professional basketball player was, 0-654. How cool is that? Oh, and I did bump into one other sports figure. As it was a little chilly in the park, I went down to the press room to get some coffee. When I walked up to the coffee service, there's Tony La Russa getting some java. Tony is one of the best managers in major league history, ranking third in total wins, along with three World Series championships. We only spoke briefly, but he did seem to be a genuinely nice person.
What a night! A nice suite, a bunch of baseball junkies, a General, and a legendary manager. I even got my sign up in the big screen. Thanks to my suite-mates for a fun evening, and thanks to the Cleveland Indians for their generosity. To cap it off, the home team got a win. Despite the Indians' loud-mouthed closer, Chris Perez, doing his best to blow a 4 run lead, the Tribe hung in for a 4-3 win.
I also enjoyed being back at Progressive Field. I've been coming here since the '90s, when it was Jacobs Field, or as everyone called it, The Jake. The Indians had some very good teams then, but could never capture the title. Next to Comerica Park, I've seen more games here than anywhere else. It's a comfortable ballpark, that is very user-friendly. Within walking distance of downtown, lots of room, good concessions, and an inviting feel. Sadly, attendance is not great here. In fact, as of the All-Star break, the Indians had the worst attendance of all major league teams. This while their team is in the hunt for a playoff spot. I guess they've seen too many late-season swoons to really believe in this team.
Well, after my fun night by Lake Erie, I have an easy driving day. I'm headed south to the Queen City to watch a crucial game between two playoff contenders... and to see an old teammate.