(or "If it's Tuesday, this must be Ohio")
The days between the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as The Days of Awe. In 2004, Rosh Hashanah fell on September 16, Yom Kippur on the 24th.
On Friday the 17th we set out on the 2004 Two Guys trip. This one would be a good test of our friendship since we were going to spend much of the trip in the car. It turned out to be quite easy
- no blood was shed and we remain close friends.
DC was already in the Washington area. Dave picked him up and we drove up Rte 95 to Philadelphia, getting into town mid-morning. Our first stop was Independence Hall, where the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution were signed. Most people know that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Not as many know that the Constitution was ratified on
September 17, 1787 - we happened to go to Independence Hall on the 217th anniversary of the signing. For such a significant occasion, there wasn't a whole lot of hoopla but it was an interesting
DC is still on extremely good terms with not only his ex-wife, but her family as well. In Philadelphia we stayed with one of his former sisters-in-law, Gale. We met her for lunch and then
decided to go see the U.S.S. Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship during the Spanish-American War.
When we arrived at the river, we found a security checkpoint set up before we were even within sight of the floating museum. We passed through and were heading down the pier when someone
shouted "Hey! Where are you going?!?" We were then told that the Olympia was closed, that we had been let through the security checkpoint by mistake and were escorted from the area by an armed
U.S. Navy sailor. On the other side of the checkpoint, we noticed a small boat with a mounted machine gun patrolling the river. There was an active duty Navy ship docked nearby - we assume that
was the reason for the security.
After our run-in with the authorities, we decided to head back to Independence Hall. We hadn't gone through the brand new National Constitution Center when we were there earlier in the
day so we went back and toured that. We definitely recommend it if you are ever in Philadelphia. It is full of interactive exhibits detailing how the Constitution came to be and how it's
interpretation has evolved over the years.
Then it was off to the first ballgame of the trip. This being the Days of Awe Tour, it was appropriate that we start at a Phillies game since their catcher, Mike Lieberthal was one of the
few Jewish major leaguer players at the time.
We headed to South Philadelphia, where all of the town's professional sports venues sit. They are pretty much isolated from the rest of the city - there hasn't been much build up of
businesses around the area like there has been in other cities like Cleveland and Baltimore when a new park is erected.
2004 was the season Citizens Bank Park opened. It replaced Veteran's Stadium, which is the single worst venue in which Dave had ever seen a baseball game (DC had been to Olympic Stadium in
Montreal, which he says is worse). All of the venues we visited on this trip are baseball only parks, most had replaced the horrible 1970s phenomena of "multi purpose stadiums" which housed
both football and baseball and were good for neither. We'd purposely avoided Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on previous trips because we hate those type of stadiums. Citizens Bank Park
is not as distinctive as the other parks we went to on this trip but it's a nice, red brick ballpark with statues of famous Phillies like Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton outside.
The first thing we did there was partake of that old Philadelphia tradition, the Philly cheese steak. As we stood in line, we noticed a sign saying that we should be ready with our order when
we got to the head of the line - the choices were onions or not, and for cheese, either cheddar, provolone or .... Cheese Whiz?
YUCK! Cheese Whiz is a fake cheese spread that brings to mind plastic more than anything else. Who would possibly want that on their sub? But as we got closer to the stand, we kept hearing
"I'll have onions and Whiz", "Make mine onions and Whiz". While we wanted to sample the local flavor as much as possible, we broke ranks with the locals on this one.
The Liberty Bell with
Independence Hall across the street
Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA
Onions and PROVOLONE!
With most browsers, right clicking on an image will allow you to see a bigger version of it.
The game was exciting but rather ragged. The Phillies had been a pre-season favorite to win the National League East but were having a disappointing season. This night they were up 7-3 in
the eighth inning but their bullpen was beyond awful and they ended up losing 12-7 to the Expos. Dave was particularly interested in seeing the Expos since this was to be their last season in
Montreal and Washington was the prime location for them to move to. As of this writing, MLB has announced that the Expos will play in Washington beginning in 2005 and be named the Nationals.
Dave was optimistic but refused to believe it until he actually sat in RFK Stadium watching a game.
For several months prior to the trip, DC had been dating a woman he had met in college and then not seen for 26 years. They had re-connected in the spring and big time sparks had flown.
As a surprise to DC, MB (these aren't aliases, they really do go by their initials) had called the Phillies and arranged for a message to be shown on the scoreboard. The Phillies would not put
personal messages on the board - just birthday or anniversary greetings - so she told them it was their 26th anniversary.
Before the trip began she had recruited Dave to make sure that
DC was in his seat and watching the scoreboard at the appropriate time. Shortly before the moment, DC said "Let's wander around the ballpark." Dave said no, that we should wait a little longer.
Fortunately DC didn't argue and when the messages started showing up on the scoreboard, Dave was commenting on how small the writing was and then at the appropriate moment asked DC if he could
read the message. DC looked up and said "It says 'Happy Anniversary DC and MB, 26 years'". Then a rare moment occurred - DC was struck speechless. This didn't last long. He was soon on his
cell phone calling MB.
After the game, we headed for Gale's. Being Two Guys and a Map, we have always been able to find our way to wherever we want to go but this time Mapquest failed us. It showed a turn where
there was none and we ended up lost in a not-too-great section of town. But we got Gale on the cell phone and she guided us to her house where we spent the night.
The next morning we had breakfast with Gale and headed out for our longest day in the car of the trip. We drove west through Pennsylvania and into Ohio, ending up in Cleveland in late
afternoon. The trip took eight hours but the time went by quickly. Cleveland is a fun town to visit - the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame is there as well as a very nice science museum. Fortunately we'd seen those on a previous visit because this time we didn't have time to do much besides get a nice dinner and go to the game.
This was the only game on the trip in a ballpark we'd previously visited, having been to Jacobs Field in 1994.
We walked over to the park and saw another ragged game between two not-very-good teams, the Indians and the Kansas City Royals. The Indians center fielder Coco Crisp made a great
face-into-the-wall catch but that didn't help much as the Royals won 7-1, scoring two runs on passed balls.
If you've read the accounts of other Two Guys trips, you might remember that in 1994 Dave caught a foul ball for the first
(and as of this writing, only) time in his life when we were in Toronto. DC has never caught one but this night he came close twice - one landed in the row directly in front of us and later a
liner was heading our way but the man in the seat next to him knocked it away. The other highlight of the evening was a very nice fireworks display right after the game.
DC likes this picture because the out of town
scoreboard shows the Yankees winning 14-4
DC has four former sisters-in-law. We'd already seen Gale. Marty lives in Cleveland. We'd stayed with her on previous visits to Cleveland but this time her house was unavailable.
The morning after the Indians game she came downtown to our hotel and we all had breakfast together before we headed out. Sunday's game was an afternoon meeting of the Cubs and the Reds in
Cincinnati so we ended up driving from the far northern part of Ohio to the farthest point south in the state. In fact, Cincinnati is so far south that we ended up parking across the river in
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for baseball. The eastern United States had been hit with several hurricanes in the preceding weeks and we'd been worried about residual effects from the
latest one but except for overcast skies in Philadelphia, we had absolutely wonderful weather the whole trip.
The Great American Ballpark was nice - again, a huge step up from the Reds previous home, Riverfront Stadium. It's right on the Ohio River, which provides a nice backdrop beyond centerfield.
Like all the new ballparks we went to on the trip, there were statues of a former player sitting outside the entrances - in Cincinnati there was Joe Nuxhall, Frank Robinson and Ernie Lombardi.
We didn't walk all the way around so we're not sure if there are others - Dave was a little disappointed that he didn't find one of his all time favorite player, Tony Perez.
Unlike the first two games of the trip, this one was well played and went by very quickly - the first eight innings were played in just two hours. Then the Cubs pulled away and ended up
winning 5-1. At this point in the season the Cubs were playing very well (they would collapse at the end and miss the playoffs) and there were a lot of Cubs fans in attendance.
The two people next to us were a father and son who had driven down from Chicago for the game.
MB had arranged for a message to be shown on the scoreboard in Cleveland. Dave had the schedule but it wasn't shown at the time they'd said it would be so we missed it. Since we hadn't
seen one the night before, DC wasn't expecting one at this game either. So he was once again caught off guard when Dave suggested he look at the scoreboard in the middle of the fourth inning,
where he saw the message "DC - I adore you, you fascinate me, I love you, MB."
We had a long drive ahead of us so we didn't see much of Cincinnati. But we did walk up from the river after the game and ended up smack dab in the middle of Oktoberfest. Cincinnati has a
large population of people with a German background so this was quite an event. We had a beer and then hit the road.
We headed east seeing much of southern Ohio. During our six day trip
we spent at least part of four days in the state of Ohio, passing through or near Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus - pretty much any city of any size in the state except for
Dayton. Our target this time was Canton. We passed New Concord on this leg of the trip, which is the hometown of Dave's mother-in-law and her longtime schoolmate, John Glenn.
The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, OH.
That's Kentucky on the other side of the river.
Joe Wendel's polka band plays Oktoberfest
The The Pro Football
Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
These trips aren't all about baseball - we always try to get some culture. On previous Two Guys trips we have gone to, among other things, art museums, aquariums, science museums, the
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, the Hearst Castle, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, the Negro League Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame, plus we'd already been to Independence Hall
on this trip.
After a night at the Red Roof Inn ("The Official Hotel of Two Guys & a Map") we began Monday with a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We enjoyed it but we both like the
baseball and hockey Halls better (and DC isn't even a hockey fan.) The actual Hall, where the player's busts sit, is very nice. There isn't any information to speak of by the bust itself but
they have a nice setup where you can pull up statistics, biographies and in most cases filmed highlights of the careers of each inductee.
Comerica Park in Detroit, MD
After a few hours we continued our exploration of the state of Ohio by driving north, then west across the state before heading north into Michigan.
We had been to Tiger Stadium three times on earlier trips (1991,
1994 and 1998) and loved the old place.
There had been a big push to renovate it but it finally closed in 2000, replaced by Comerica Park.
The new park is a very striking looking place - not only are there statues of famous Tigers (Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Willie Horton, Al Kaline, Schoolboy Rowe and Hank Greenberg),
there are statues of the other kind of tiger all over the place - in front, on the roof and on the scoreboard.
This was a fitting place for a stop on the Days of Awe Tour, as Hank Greenberg
(along with Sandy Koufax) was one of the two greatest Jewish baseball players ever.
The Tigers beat the Indians 3-1. As they had in Cleveland a couple of nights earlier, the Indians gave up a run on a wild pitch (in this case it was the winning run.) This was the first game
we attended that the home team won.
MB struck again, with another 26th anniversary message. Dave was beginning to feel a little left out at this point but later figured it was just as well when he found out that his wife Bobbi
and MB had discussed having one of the scoreboards read "Welcome Two Gays and a Map" (For that story, see
2000 - The Y2K Southern Tour)
The Motown Museum
On our last trip to Detroit we'd tried to go to The Motown Museum. We'd gotten caught in a traffic jam which kept us from
getting there so this time we didn't take any chances - the morning after the Tigers game, we headed over to West Grand Blvd, getting to the Motown Museum right around the time it
opened. Berry Gordy lived in this house for some time and converted the garage to a recording studio.
The tour was not very long, but very interesting. We saw Berry Gordy's apartment, the business offices, the candy machine that always had to have Stevie Wonder's favorite, Baby Ruth bars
in the same slot and other exhibits before ending up in the studio. Every hit record on the Motown label from 1959 to 1972 was recorded in this one small room. (Dave highly recommends the
documentary 'Standing In The Shadows of Motown', which concentrates not on the singers, but on the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers, who played on all of those hits.)
While we were in the studio, our tour guide got volunteers from the group to come up. First she got three women out to be Supremes, teaching them the moves for 'Where Did Our Love Go'.
Then it was the guys turn - five volunteers were put through the paces and became Temptations, learning the choreography of 'My Girl'. They made up for their lack of rhythm with their
DC and friends have sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside,they have the month of May.
After checking into our hotel (yet another Red Roof Inn), we headed into downtown Pittsburgh. The ballpark is easy to find and we found parking a few blocks away, right next to the Andy Warhol
Museum. (If you're wondering why Warhol, the quintessential New York artist, has a museum in Pittsburgh, it's because he was born there.)
They built a really beautiful ballpark in Pittsburgh. PNC Park was the nicest of the five we visited on this trip. It's right on the river and several bridges can be seen from inside the
park. The sight lines are great and in addition to the by-now-inevitable statues (Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell), there are murals and banners inside celebrating Pittsburgh's
baseball history. They really did it up right on this one.
We were seeing the Cubs again and for the second time in three days, they won. MB completed her five game scoreboard message streak (even though we didn't see it in Cleveland, they did show
it - the Indians sent MB a photo of it as a souvenir) with a message that read "DC, hurry home - you rock my world. Love, MB"
Dave gets Roberto Clemente's blessing
PNC Park n Pittsburgh, PA
It's hard to see here, but the scoreboard player pictures
are in the style of Pittsburgh native son Andy Warhol.
The next morning we were both awake early and decided to hit the road at 4:30 AM. We got from Pittsburgh to Frederick, MD in just about three hours, then spent another hour and three
quarters in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. But even with that slowdown, DC was at MB's and Dave was home by 10:00 AM, completing another Two Guys trip.
Next up - The Two Guys & a Map Mississippi River Tour.
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