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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The National Soccer Hall of Fame

Considering the fact that my in-laws live in Oneonta, it's rather peculiar that it took Carol and me nearly eight years to visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the small city. Carol and I, with baby Lydia, made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the summer of 2004 in Springfield, MA; I think Lydia was unimpressed.

Anyway, one might ask, why the heck is the Soccer HoF in Oneonta anyway. On the very first display in the Hall, that question is addressed. The colleges there, the State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick College both had had successes in the 1970s in soccer. OK, but still, why Oneonta? Because of its approximation to Cooperstown, some folks expected that they could make it another destination in the region.

Yes, I don't know soccer, but my wife doesn't really know basketball, either. While she loved that hall in Springfield, she and I were pretty bored with this place. At least until we got to the second floor, when we got to compete in some interactive games. Still, if it wasn't for the fact that she got in free (it was Mother's Day weekend), and I got in at 10% off with an AAA card ($11.25 instead of $12.50), it would have been an EXPENSIVE boring visit.

Of course, it can't compete with the charm of Cooperstown. My father-in-law and I, as usual, went to the game last month, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a description of the game, where minor league Brian Boch got 2 HRs, one a grand slam, and a double to lead the Orioles over the Blue Jays. My best recollections: off-key renditions by a barbershop quartet of BOTH O Canada AND The Star-Spangled Banner; four of the eight homers landing in our section, including one that hit just to my right, hit a concrete facing, then careened to the left in front of me.

Our favorite sport, though, is begging the center fielder for the ball. This is an annual event, where after the warm ups between half innings, the sections make as much noise as possible so that the player will toss the ball to their section. No one played this as well as Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, who really knew how to milk the crowd. One time, he hid one ball while taunting the crowd with another. When he threw it to the one section, the other section moaned, until he produced the second sphere. Great theater for the three innings he stayed in the game.


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