Rediscovering America Tour- Day 8 – Getting Off I-90 to Return to My Youth

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What started out as a “Road Day,” where we were really just planning on getting from one primary location to another, ended up being a series of side trips that made the day amazing and reflective, with just a tinge of sorrow and nostalgia.

But first, a word from our “Sponsors” (or at least a benefactor of the trip). Part of the lodging for our trip is being spent at PEO Bed and Breakfasts. For those of you not familiar with PEO, it is a Philanthropic Organization of women, formed to offer scholarships and fellowships for women, primarily in the form of grants and scholarships to college students. All three of our younger daughters have benefitted from these scholarships, and Katie actually spent two years at Cottey College (founded by the PEO), in Nevada, Missouri, in her undergrad days. They are an amazing group of ladies, with thousands of chapters in the US and Canada.  More on PEO here…

I like to kid my wife, and her Aunt (both PEOs) that it is a female version of Skull and Bones…mostly because they have a few “secret rituals” and bar men from being anywhere near their meetings. I know…I’ve been banished downstairs on more than one occasion.

But as it pertains to this trip, they also have an amazing system of B&Bs in place that is available only to the PEO sisterhood, and works as a fundraiser for the local chapters. A PEO makes their home available…bed, and breakfast…for a nominal fee ($40-$75) that is made out to the local chapter. The ladies make nothing personally.  We have already had two of these homestays, and have several more planned. But, I am going to guess that none will rival the home we shared with Barbara, in Youngstown, about 25 miles outside of Cleveland. It. Was. Stunning.

Continue reading about the Little League Hall of Fame and World Series, Milford, New York, and my lament (a mini-rant) about the current condition of kid’s sports.

Because Barb’s home is not open to the public, and I want to protect her location and identity, I am not going to give specifics. But, if we were rating it on Yelp…she would receive the elusive 6th Star to her review. Her sprawling country home could be a museum. It is loaded to the gills with art, antiques, pottery (from the company Barb founded and ran) and amazing attention to detail that made every room an “ooo….ahhhh!” for a kid raised by parents who were consummate collectors.

Bed-Breakfast

These pics don’t even begin to do justice to the amazing place that is this home. Her late husband was a civil engineer, so the designed and built the home on several acres, including a huge horse barn that was later converted into Barb’s thriving pottery business, which shipped her work internationally.  I could have spent days there…especially since her breakfasts were absolute perfection…including hand-baked, Schneckin…a pecan cinnamon roll treat that has long been a Christmas tradition at our house.

We bid farewell, and hit the open road, headed for New Palz, NY…near one of the central points on my tour’s bucket list, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (which I’ll cover in another post).

We only have one rule on this trip…if we aren’t on a deadline (and we rarely are), if it catches our attention, pull over and stop.  While the countryside is lush and beautiful along I-90 through Ohio, Pennsylvania and into upstate New York, it is often so lush that you are basically driving through a close-in, dense wall, that obstructs any views from the highway.

Every once in a while, a bridge pops up that allows a viewpoint of a rive, or some farms.

TheRoad

But for the most part, you need to just watch the markers…and then jerk the car off of the Highway, or suffer “Siri’s Wrath” of being told to “Make A U-Turn.”  So it was with the Little League Museum and World Series Stadium, in Williamsport, PA.

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Maria Pepe, was the “Jaqueline Robinson” of Little League, in that she was the first to challenge, and break through the gender barrier of participation in 1972. Alas, the case took 2 years to be ruled upon, and by then she was too old to play Little League.

However…LOADS of little girls have played since, with some going into the Little League Record Books.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE

My sister Molly played Little League in Parkrose. But, regrettably, none of my five daughters showed even a passing interest in the game as kids. However…my two oldest grandsons are obsessed with baseball…but, the “new variety” of youth baseball, which is the subject of the rant that follows.

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Here’s a great representation of the path a team needs to follow to get to Williamsport, PA for the World Series. It is an amazing accomplishment. I played on two All Star teams that didn’t get beyond the state playoffs. But, we made it to the regionals in Babe Ruth, American Legion, and Connie Mack.

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My first introduction to the LL World Series were the telecasts on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. They are still covered on ESPN today.

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If you haven’t seen the AMAZING DOCUMENTARY, Opposite Field, about one man’s quest to bring Baseball to Uganda, and their team’s even more amazing journey to Williamsport, PA…you owe it to yourself to watch it today. It is available on NetFlix
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO and LINK

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Uganda made it back to the World Series this past year…amazing…

A Short Side Rant about Kid’s Sports Today…and Why Their Parents Should Be Shot.

(If you want to skip this, click down to picture of Milford, NY)

First of all, understand that as a Dad to five daughters, I spent most of my time rooting for the boyfriends who played sports…without much chance to root for my own daughters playing sports. There were some brief flirtations with volleyball, gymnastics, track and soccer, but for the most part, they were cheerleaders and score keeps. They are very “girly-girls” who simply pursued other interests.

Then my grandsons came along, and I was introduced into a world of Kid’s Sports that was cut of a cloth so unfamiliar, that I finally stopped asking questions about structure, intention, or goals, because it became very clear that most of these were established by the parents, for the parents, and of the parents…who are all out of their freakin’ minds with the “need to win.”

Little League has an amazingly long tradition, with the right intentions behind the efforts of the organization. 

Their mission is clear; “Through proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists children in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. By espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty, the Little League Baseball and Softball program is designed to develop superior citizens rather than superior athletes.”

That last line is the very heart of my utter abhorrence of the “new version” of youth baseball.

I am not going to single out the programs in which my grandsons participate, as I have heard similar stories from parents and grandparents across the country.  But suffice it to say, that somewhere in the past decade, when the Boomers gave way to the Gen Xers, the Good Ship Sportsmanship went waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off course.

The “leagues” that have formed for the “best players” in certain privileged regions, have formed their own “traveling all star teams” that play other “all star teams,” mostly in three-day weekend tournament extravaganzas, complete with “Champions” which get anything from huge trophies, medals, and yes…even Championship rings, if you win.

It is nuts.

My grandsons are above average athletes. They are competitive, and sports obsessed, as were most of the kids my age. The parents? They are nuts. I mean, really, really, really, nuts.

They shower the kids with equipment, countless hours at “off-season” batting cages, specialty camps, and any number of special one-on-one training sessions…ALL BEFORE THESE KIDS ARE EVEN IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL…

They are forcing kids to choose a single sport…well before their bodies are even mature enough, let alone their emotional make-up, to focus on a sport with the determination needed to make it an avocation, rather than a hobby.

These camps are promoted (baseball, football, basketball all have the same whack-job freaks) as “the most logical ticket to a College Scholarship,” making the logical assumption that they will be the varsity players in High School and summer programs that will “attract the scouts” of both college and Major Leagues. It’s freakin’ nuts.

If there is any further evidence needed that we, as a sports-minded nation, have gone completely off of the rails, you need to look no further than the fervor currently being created by the NCAA debate over “Satellite Camps,” and what they are doing to the recruiting.

They are completely out of control.

While the Little League Pledge has never been invoked as a requirement (mostly because some whackjob at the ACLU would challenge the “God” part) the ideals of this organization are FAR closer to how we should be thinking and directing the lives of our youth.

I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best

Nowhere in this is any mention of, “And I will be sure that my kid gets rewarded with some garish display that makes my parents Facebook Page look more important.”

I say all of this…because some of the sideline rants, and emotional outbursts of horrendous, vitriolic language, aimed at coaches, umpires, and other players, that I have witnessed personally,  make me sick. The kids still have fun. But, kids will always find a way.

My concern, is that when they get further down the road…and they actually are faced with challenges that they may not always “win,” they will crumble…

We are building a generation of entitled, spoiled, poor sports, who will do anything to win. And it sucks…big time.

I hate the new era of doping athletes. I’m not a fan of colleges that spend more and more on athletics, while jacking up the tuitions of the regular students to stratospheric levels that leave them tens of thousands in debt.

But, I refuse to support the concept of “co-opting” what was once good, and simple, and fun, with a genuine reward for consistent, good play.

I played regular season baseball, with local kids, with a huge variety of talents.  I played “All Star” tournaments at the end of every regular season. We had special uniforms, and got to travel to the regional playoffs. We got trophies when we won, and the joy of competing when we lost. I never got a ring…because every parent and child playing, knew that that was reserved for REAL World Series players.

This new form of self-aggrandizing sports is bullshit. Period.

OK…Back to the trip.
Another Beautiful Side Trip Town…Historic Milford, New York

The history of Milford, NY is one of those that reminds us that those of us on the West Coast, don’t really get what “history” really is. Milford was formed in 1731. That’s a mere 50 years before the Constitution of the country was written.

It is gorgeous. It was well worth the time we spent on a bit of a meandering trip onto Hwy. 84 East (it felt cool to see a familiar Sign…except the Eastern version).

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There was a bit of irony in this vision…as we hit what turned out to be an almost endless pattern of highway delays due to the almost endless stream of construction.  I am all for improving the infrastructure of our nation…but did they have to do it all when we were on the road.

But…hey…apparently, we were headed to the “Promised Land.”

Which…as it turned out, may have been Milford, NY.
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On of the most interesting aspects of Milford, is that it was the location for the “College of Pragmatism.”

I LOVE this… and I will now point it out to my kids, who hate it when I start a sentence with, “You have to be Pragmatic about this!!”  when trying to convince me that their plans makes sense.

I am an optimistic pragmatist by nature. I believe that we can do, and be almost anything we choose…as long as we are pragmatic about our methods and goals.

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The most modern building in Milford…”new” in 1957.

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If you look carefully at the clouds above, you will see a very distinct Pyramid shape, that to me resembles the “Mason’s All Seeing Eye” shape that is on the back of the $1 bill.  I’m not sure…but it may have been hanging over the town of Hyde Park, NY…where we landed the next day.
On to Rhinebeck, NY and WW1 and the Depression tomorrow.

And speaking of Uganda… IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING WITH OUR WORK THERE…
Click HERE…or on the graphic at the top right.

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About crankyoldguy067

I'm a very complex person...no...really I am. It may seem like I only golf, watch TV, and listen to Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Little Feat...but I am a deep, deep thinker...so deep that at times I just have to lay down. I love my family. I love my wife for putting up with me. I have held more jobs than a Pakastani immigrant...and have had three complete career cycles. 1. In my first life (rymes with first wife) I did almost every blue-collar job you can imagine...all with alarming ineptetude. 2. In my second cycle, I owned an ad agency, was an award winning music producer, and recording artist. And now, since the advent of the Internet... 3.I have been pretty much locked into providing services and marketing support to radio stations across 160 markets...while dablling with writing...continuing to write music...managing several blog sites, the country club web site, and being a grandpa...while working to pay for the weddings of my last three daughters. I will be working until I am 70...or 75...or 80. My advice to anyone who wants to emulate my life... DON"T!!!!! Stay in college. Have a good, long career in something with a decent retirement program and good benefits. You can't pay for your gallbladder operation with an Emmy Award. Really. I've asked.
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2 Responses to Rediscovering America Tour- Day 8 – Getting Off I-90 to Return to My Youth

  1. Paul G says:

    Thanks for these wonderful posts, Pat. As your former teammate, I too deplore the state of youth baseball today. I was really impressed with Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and his efforts to help bring youth baseball to inner city kids :

    http://www.theplayerstribune.com/left-out/

    Keep enjoying your travels, I know your readers sure do!

    Like

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