National Baseball Hall of Fame


The calendar tells me I am getting to the end of the best Major League Baseball year of my life. Did I mention the Astros won the world series? What better way to cap off this awesome year than to take a trip to Cooperstown, New York and visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame? The only think I could think of was taking my son with me on the trip.

As sort of a last-minute plan, we decided to make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown. Cooperstown is a wonderful place, but it is not easy to get there. With only 3 days to make the trip from Houston, obviously we were flying. The commercial airport choices for Cooperstown are Albany, New York City, and Boston. Albany is the closest, but is by far the most expensive. New York City is a little over 3 hours away by car, but the air fare to all New York airports was very high. Boston is 4 hours from Cooperstown and the December air fare was reasonable. I was also able to get a rental car for $8 per day from a reputable company.

We arrived in Boston on a Friday afternoon and begin the 4-hour drive. I have been to Boston many times but somehow forgot about the dense and congested roadways. It took us a while to get out of the city. Once on the Mass Pike, the driving was much easier. One complicating factor is the Massachusetts toll roads. There is no longer a cash option to pay tolls in Massachusetts. Supposedly they take a photo of the license plate and bill you later. My rental company indicated I could just pay the tolls later, but, there was also mentioned a lurking administration fee. I found out at the counter that this fee was $45. For me it made sense to rent an EZ Pass sensor for $4 per day, especially since we were also driving in New York. Each situation is different, but it is important to decide how you will manage tolls when driving a rental car in Massachusetts and New York.

I was concerned about the December weather in upstate New York. We were blessed with very cold temperatures, but very little snow. The roads were okay in most places. Google maps did take me on a “shortcut” over a dark, snow covered road. We were okay, but I probably should have listened to my common sense more than Google Maps.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Cooperstown, it was located about 1 mile outside of town. The hotel is fairly new and was just fine as it met my criteria of free WiFi, breakfast, and parking.

Cooperstown is a beautiful town, particularly when it is covered in snow. I have often wondered why a shrine like the Baseball Hall of Fame is in such a remote location. Once you arrive in Cooperstown, it all makes sense. Seeing the Hall of Fame building in this small-town setting makes the occasion all the more memorable.

For any baseball fan, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum is the top of the mark. Baseball is an old sport steeped in rich history and tradition. Most of that history is on display at the museum. Replica is not a word seen very often in the Hall of Fame Museum. Everything is the real deal. You find yourself suddenly looking at Babe Ruth’s bat, Walter Johnson’s glove or Hank Aaron’s uniform. Observing the actual implements of great baseball feats seems to directly connect the visitor with the event. For the baseball fan, this place makes history come alive like nothing else. We also visited the actual Hall of Fame where we saw the plaques of recent Astro inductees Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

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We spent the entire day at the Hall of Fame, which was just enough time. After making our souvenir purchase, we started the 4-hour drive back to Boston.

Finding a reasonably priced Hotel in Boston was more challenging. The hardest part was finding a suitable location combined with free parking. We settled on TownPlace Suites in Chelsea. This hotel was in a terrific location. The only issue was their WiFi was quirky.

Our one baseball related activity in Boston was touring Fenway Park. I have seen 3 baseball games in Fenway, but never been on a tour. Our tour started at 10am at gate D in front of Fenway. Parking at Fenway in December is easy. It was a frigid day, but we were dressed warmly for the tour. The tour guide was a lifelong Red Sox fan and spoke reverently and enthusiastically about Fenway. The highlight for me was touring the visitors’ locker room where the Astros held their celebration after winning the ALDS. Fenway seems much smaller than it appears on television. Given the trend towards building modern baseball stadiums, Fenway is a unique national treasure that can be enjoyed by all.

For the rest of the time we visited some typical Boston tourist sites. We toured The Old North Church, Bunker Hill, Old State House, USS Constitution, Kennedy Presidential Museum, and Faneuil Hall. We used Uber/Lyft to travel to most of these sites as the parking was very limited.

We also ate some great food while in Boston. One item of note was the lobster roll and clam chowder at Belle Island Seafood. The food was excellent, and the location is right on the water. Note this restaurant only takes cash.

A visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame is a must for any fan of the game. It is a bit of a challenge to getting to Cooperstown, but well worth the effort.

Make the most of this day!


World Series

I am a lifelong Astros fan. The intensity of my love for this team has ebbed and flowed over the years. Baseball almost lost me during the steroid era but after a multi-year lull, I returned. I like other sports but there is something special about baseball and the Astros. In case you somehow haven’t heard, the Astros won the World Series on November 1, 2017. Many folks will say it is just a game but for me, it was a life-changing event.  When I woke up on November 2nd with my World Series hangover, I began to reflect on why baseball is so important to me.

The first reason is longevity. I have been following the Astros since I was a child in the mid-1960s. I am not sure when I attended my first game, but I do remember Jimmy Wynn and Rusty Staub as my favorite players during this period. I recall the Astrodome as the most amazing stadium of its time. As smoking was allowed inside back in the day, there was a cloud of smoke hanging over the field the entire game. Another highlight was seeing the grounds crew dressed as spacemen as they dragged the infield during the 5th inning. There is no telling how many games I have engaged with either watching, listening or attending in person. I believe it is easily over 1000 games. When I was a child, my primary way of connecting with the Astros was my transistor radio. After my mom told me to go to bed, I would turn on the radio and listen to the game through the earphone (sorry Mom). Many times, I would wake up late in the night with the game long over with my radio still on playing music or the news.

The second reason baseball is important in my life is heritage. My father loved baseball and passed that love on to me. My father died when I was 23 and I now find elements of his essence slipping from my memory. Baseball is the crutch that clarifies my father’s presence and the influence he had and continues to have, on my life. The games we attended and times we listened on the radio are crystal clear in my mind.  Baseball revives these memories of my father like nothing else adding to the beauty and wonder of this great sport. I have been able to instill a passion for baseball in my children and I hope they can continue this legacy with their own families. Baseball is an old sport steeped in history and tradition. Baseball has been a constant for many generations and is rooted in the fabric of American history. There is a common thread of thousands of games and overlapping careers binding today’s players to those players of old.

The third reason for the significant role of baseball in my life is, baseball is timeless. In this day of distraction, instant communication and time-bound lives, baseball has no clock and is not over until the proper number of outs have been recorded. Time drives most elements of our lives and we can’t control its relentless march forward. Time is what takes away the freshness of youth and brings the pain and struggles of old age. We can’t escape the relentless boundaries of time. For me, baseball is a way to escape, at least emotionally, from the constant drumbeat of time. Many people complain that baseball is slow, lasts too long and needs to change. I support some of these changes but fundamentally, baseball is unique and provides a needed escape from the constant time pressure of today’s society.

Fourth and finally, baseball is a sport of failure and overcoming adversity. I have lived through many Astro disappointments. The playoffs of 1980 and 1986 generate particularly intense memories. I attended a World Series game in 2005 but that team was not ready for the big stage. I still flinch when I hear the name Albert Pujols. In the past I have let myself become emotionally “all in” on the Astros playoff runs and have had my dreams shattered every time. As this year’s Astros pushed further into the playoffs, I began to ask myself how far would I let myself go this time? Was I emotionally ready to have my hopes dashed again? I was slow to commit my emotions. My son was helpful in that he inspired me to attend one of the ALCS games with the Yankees. Still, I had a feeling of foreboding dread each time the next Astros playoff game started. I became strangely superstitious, for example, I would not wear any of my Astro gear while watching the games on TV. In the end, I hung in there and watched the world series, including the exciting game 7. It is truly better to love and lose rather than not love at all. The lesson for me is not to fear letting my emotions go. I should spend my emotions more freely and certainly not just with sporting events. We can’t be so afraid of losing that we don’t try. Logically I know this, emotionally it is still a struggle for me.

So, this world series victory was a defining moment for me. It was probably not so impactful for many of you. What are the key points of this self-centered, rambling post? Longevity and heritage are good things. Maintaining a lifelong passion that connects to our family helps define who we are. Commitment and connections are important elements of our personal and professional lives. Finally, we should not be afraid to fail. It takes a logical and emotional effort to try something that might end in failure. The lesson from baseball is the best batters fail ~70% of the time. It is ok to fail. We need to shake off any self-pity and quickly step back up to the plate. Are you afraid to fail? Don’t let fear of failure lead you to that dreaded feeling of regret. Don’t be afraid, put yourself out there, take the risk!

Make the most of this day!


I am an avid baseball fan and have attended many games in the USA from little league to the major leagues. I am also a lifelong Astros fan so I am very excited about the upcoming ALCS games against the Yankees. A few weeks ago, I attended a baseball game in Taipei Taiwan. This was my first appearance at a game outside the USA and it had a profound effect on my traditional view of baseball games.

Baseball is known as a laid-back sport. While there is plenty of action and excitement, there are also more lethargic times as well. Examples of action and excitement are; home runs, scoring plays, and great fielding. In contrast, examples of lethargy are; visits to the mound, throws to first base, and pitching changes. The crowd’s excitement in baseball ebbs and flows with the action, or lack of action, on the field. Unlike football, there are no bands or cheerleaders in baseball, at least this was my belief prior to attending the game in Taiwan.

During my stay in Taiwan, I mentioned to one of my students that I like baseball. He asked if I would like to go see a game between the Lions and the Monkeys. These teams are part of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan and they were scheduled to play in a few days. I agreed to go to the game. I had heard these games in Taiwan were different from the US brand of baseball and I found this premise to be true.

The stadium looked like a minor league stadium from the USA. The field was well kept and the stands were full. One of the first unusual things I noticed was a section for the band. There was also an area above each dugout for the cheerleaders. As the game started, the cheering started and never stopped. In fact, after the game as we walked to our car about a mile away, we could still hear the victorious Lions crowd cheering away into the night. When I say cheers, I mean intensely organized cheers for each player. I have never seen such an enthusiastic and raucous crowd.

Taiwan Baseball Cheering Video

(Note you may need to click on the video a couple of times to get the audio to play)

The baseball was very good, it compares to AA ball in the USA. Overall the experience of baseball in Taiwan was wonderful. The most enduring element I took away from the game was the enthusiasm shown by the crowd. The crowd’s enthusiasm was constant during the good and bad plays. The fans never left their team or player’s virtual side. The crowd’s team loyalty was absolute.

Enthusiasm goes a long way to making life better. Showing enthusiasm during difficult times can ease pain and provide hope. I have also found enthusiasm to be effective in filling my gaps in talent and intelligence. I have a natural tendency towards sarcasm that can sometimes lead to negative comments and ideas. I constantly fight this tendency and have found demonstrating enthusiasm a great remedy.

Admittedly at times, it is hard to show enthusiasm. Towards the end of my career at Hewlett-Packard, it seemed like we were working on age-old problems I had seen many times. With my “vast experience” I believed I had seen it all and many of the solutions suggested by my colleagues seemed old and tired. After all, we had tried these things many times over the years. I became jaded and cynical at work and I am sure this attitude was evident to my co-workers. I regret the missed opportunities to show enthusiasm to my co-workers during this time of my career.

How do we show enthusiasm when we don’t feel like it? One way is to be a constant encourager to those around us. We can also have a positive attitude and focus on the bright side of life. Encouragement is a wonderful gift we should learn to distribute no matter the circumstances. Like most action plans that make the world a better place, showing enthusiasm requires us to put the needs of others ahead of ourselves. It is amazing how many problems selflessness solves. Think about your actions over the past few days, have been enthusiastic?

Make the most of this day!