Kind Road Off The Field, Unkind On

The Royals trip through Texas and Cleveland was forgettable from a baseball standpoint.  Very little went right.  But in a week spent on the road, there are always things that get your attention:

Not too far from the Ballpark in Arlington you can find the historic Fort Worth Stock Yards.  It’s a great area that allows you to get a true Western flavor.  The food, music, shopping and atmosphere all reinforce the old Texas adage “Dallas is where the East ends, Fort Worth is where the West begins.”  Of course my friends in Dallas during my days at SMU used to like to say “Fort Worth has one thing Dallas doesn’t have…a major city within 50 miles of it.”  Actually, though, Fort Worth is a great town, and like every other part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, it’s growing like a weed.  The Stockyards are definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Here’s something great that started in Fort Worth (not Dallas)…Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant.  Great food, and indoor/outdoor seating.  In beautiful weather like you’ll find in April, be prepared to wait in line if you want to sit outside.  But if you have the time, the wait is worth it!  Joe T’s opened back in 1935.  Warning:  it’s cash only! 

 Another attraction in the Stockyards area is the Cowtown Coliseum, which opened in 1908.  Not only is it the home of the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, but it’s still a busy place for a variety of events.  Elvis Presley performed here.  They have weekly rodeos.  It is also the home of the Fort Worth Sixers of the National Indoor Football League.  It seats 3418 people and was renovated in 1986.  It holds the distinction of being the first building in the country to house indoor rodeos.  Got a feeling they didn’t have air conditioning back in 1908.  Probably got a little toasty in there…

Here’s something you don’t often see when walking down the street: a kid on a Texas Longhorn.  But at the Stockyards, you too can be photographed this way (for a nominal fee…).   Besides being the mascot for the University of Texas (Bevo), and being the official mammal of the state of Texas, the Texas Longhorn is also the official symbol of Forth Worth.  And that’s no bull…

There was baseball played in Texas, unfortunately the results were not what we were looking for.  We have a great view at the Ballpark in Arlington, which has drawn some packed houses in the afterglow of the Rangers first-ever World Series appearance in 2010.  Denny had to find several paper weights, with winds gusting into the 30 and even 40 mph range.  All pertinent game-prep material was secured, and no important paperwork blew out the window.

While we watched baseball on Easter Sunday, my son John was back in KC enjoying himself.  My Aunt Maureen was good enough to play Easter Bunny and make sure that all requisit kid Easter “stuff” was taken care of.  So here’s the obligatory “cute kid pic”…

Ever wonder where the name “Cleveland” came from?  No?  Well here’s the origin anyway.  This is a statue in downtown Cleveland of General Moses Cleaveland, who founded the city in 1796.  Moses was a lawyer, politician, soldier and surveyor from Connecticut.  He founded the city while surveying the Western Reserve.  The name was shortened to “Cleveland” so it could better fit on the Indians uniforms.  Just kidding.  Although the actual story may not be that far off.  One popular explanation is that the editor of the newspaper the “Cleveland Advertiser” found the original spelling to be too long for the form they used when printing the paper, and so the first “A” was dropped.

A guy much better known than General Cleaveland, or Cleveland, was the late legendary Bob Feller.  Rapid Robert was the greatest pitcher in Indians history and a war hero.  He passed away this past offseason.  He was 92.  The native of Van Meter, Iowa lived an incredible life and the Indians have commemorated his nightly presence at their games by marking his seat in the press box.  A replica of his Hall of Fame plague sits just below where he sat.  Several mementos are under glass right on the spot where he trained his eyes on young ballplayers almost every time the Indians played a game.  I had the great honor, in the summer of 2010 of sitting in the seat right next to his and interviewing him during a Royals-Indians game.  We will be re-running that interview this summer when a rain delay allows us time to do so.

Feller volunteered for the Navy on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Cleveland great was the first Major Leaguer to volunteer for military duty after the attack.  He was understandbly proud of his service, but he didn’t brag about it.  He never once expressed regrete for almost four years of lost baseball time that he gave to his country.   He had an incredible memory.  To hear him tell stories of pitching to Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams was enough to give you chills.  The Indians put Rapid Robert on the cover of their 2011 media guide and are remembering him throughout the season. 

And finally we salute John Adams, lifelong Indians fan, and the man who has been drumming in the bleachers since 1973.  He celebrated 3000 games of drumming up fan support at old Municipal Stadium and later Progressive Field while we were there.  A very nice man and a huge fan, he misses only home day games, since his day job is 9-5 with the phone company.  And, yes, he pays for his tickets (his and his drum each need a seat, and he does get his for half price).  And the beat goes on….

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