Thursday, July 24, 2014

Presidential Pathways: #8, Martin Van Buren

Born: Dec. 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, N.Y. (Visited: August 2008)
Died: July 24, 1862, in Kinderhook, N.Y.
Burial Place: Kinderhook Cemetery in Kinderhook, N.Y. (Visited: August 2008)

Birthplace

A state historical marker designates the location of the Van Buren house.

Burial Place


Two markers show the way to Van Buren's grave.

An obelisk marks Van Buren's grave, who is buried by his wife Hannah and their son Martin Jr.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Presidential Pathways: #18, Ulysses S. Grant

Born: April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio (Visited: June 2011)
Died: July 23, 1885, in Wilton, N.Y.
Burial Place: General Grant National Memorial in New York, N.Y.. (Visited: August 2008)

Birthplace

The Grant family moved from this house less than a year after his birth.

The U.S. Grant Birthplace Historic Site includes four other properties besides the president's birthplace.

Burial Place

Grant is buried at General Grant National Memorial in Riverside Park in New York City.

Commonly called Grant's Tomb, the monument was completed in 1897 - 12 years after the president's death.

Ulysses and Julia Grant are buried in identical red granite sarcophagi.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Presidential Pathways: #12, Zachary Taylor

Born: Nov. 24, 1784, in Barboursville, Va.
Died: July 9, 1850, in Washington, D.C.
Burial Place: Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Ky. (Visited: June 2005)

Burial Place

In 1883, the Kentucky government erected the granite column to honor Taylor.

In 1926, the U.S. government built a limestone neoclassical mausoleum for Taylor's remains.

The mausoleum contains the remains of Taylor and his wife Margaret.

Taylor was originally interred in his family's crypt, which still stands.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baseball Stadiums: Herschel Greer Stadium

The first baseball game I attended at Herschel Greer Stadium was in March 2002, when the Georgia State Panthers visited the Belmont Bruins in a three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series.  The first minor league game I attended was in July 2006 between the Round Rock Express and the Sounds, when I was attending the CoSIDA Convention in Nashville.  Both events were long before I started blogging about my visits to MLB and MiLB stadiums, so when the Nashville Sounds announced that 2014 would be the last season at Greer Stadium I wanted to be sure to visit for "the last cheer at Greer."

Unlike MiLB.com's Ben Hill, nobody had my name marked on a calendar.  Although I had been to the stadium before, it had been several years and, as always, I read up on food suggestions and the gameday experience from Hill's piece when he visited during the 2013 season.

The main entrance to the stadium is one of my favorites in Minor League Baseball.  The stone wall and wrought-iron fence are distinctive, and the baseball diamond on the ground lets any observer know he is entering a baseball stadium.

Exterior of the main concourse with sky boxes in the background.
It may not be clear in the photos, but there are banners of former Nashville players who have reached the Major Leagues with a picture of them as a Sounds player and with their current club.  For example, a banner shows Prince Fielder with the team in 2005, and in his current uniform with the Texas Rangers.

Ticket office and main gate.

Although I walked around the concourse once I entered the stadium, I wasn't particularly hungry and I could not find a beer to drink.  So after checking out the gift shop, I decided to take my seat and just watch baseball.  So I took in a lot action during the first inning.

First pitch between the Reno Aces and Nashville Sounds.

In addition to the first pitch of the game, I got photographs of both starting pitchers.

Sounds starting pitcher Ariel Pena.

Aces starting pitcher Zeke Spruill.
I also got a photograph of the Sounds third batter, which isn't significant unto itself.  However, I wanted to capture a shot that showed the Milwaukee Brewers patch on the shoulder of the uniform.

Sounds second baseman Elian Herrera.

I also took a photo of the seating bowl, although Ben Hill's piece details the age of the facility much better than my one shot.  Knowing that he took a ton of pictures highlighting the age of the seats, I opted to take a simple overview of the seating bowl with the press box and sky boxes.

A view of the press box and sky boxes from the third base side.

I may need to seek professional help, but getting my picture taken with MiLB mascots has become a bit of an obsession for me.  So instead of exploring more of the stadium, I waited for an inning or two along the third base line so I could get my picture with Ozzie.  I'm wondering if there's a "Mascot Addicts Anonymous" or something I could join.

Anyway, while I waited I had a Ruby Red from Fat Bottom Brewery.  For beer connoisseurs, the color was a deep red and it was a very tasty amber ale.  While waiting I started talking with a professional photographer who was shooting for a local web site.  He agreed to take my picture with Ozzie whenever the big cat came by.

Me with Ozzie in a blurry photo taken by a professional photographer.

When I entered the stadium, I noticed the paw prints on the concourse as documented in Ben Hill's piece.  At the risk of being overly critical, I really don't understand why the paw prints exist.  The team isn't called the "Cougars," and it seems like something a high school would do.  In fact, I've seen stuff like that at a high school stadium where team was called the "Wildcats."  Granted, maybe the young kids like following the prints to the funnel cake stand, so who am I to judge.

Ozzie prints leading you to the food.

Like many ballparks built in the late-'70s and early-'80s, Greer Stadium has the concourse and concession stands sitting beneath the seating bowl.  So fans are cutoff from the action, and the stands themselves are rather commonplace.  Surprisingly, the team never added TVs to keep fans connected to the game.

A standard concession stand beneath the seating bowl.

Due to my lack of hunger, I checked out all the concession stands trying to find a signature item and never found one that appealed to me.  Most employees said there wasn't a particularly unique item, but that I could visit Slugger's Restaurant on the 4th Floor.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I decided to check it out.

The food menu was nondescript.  It had the usual ballpark food like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken tenders.  Nothing particularly appealed to me, so I opted to get a beer and watch some of the game from upstairs.

Viewing the action from Slugger's Restaurant.

For my beer choice, I opted for the locally brewed Southern Wit from Tennessee Brew Works.  It was a nice alternative to the nationally-available Shocktop Belgian White that was also on draft.  After an inning or so upstairs, I headed downstairs to find something to eat.

Eventually I settled on getting BBQ Nachos from the Whitt's Barbecue stand along the first base line.  The nachos looked good covered in nacho cheese with a good serving of pulled pork, but I was surprised that it wasn't topped with any sauce.  Instead, I had to add sauce from the condiment stand.  It got weirder when the sauce at the condiment stand was Sweet Baby Ray's.  I really like Sweet Baby Ray's sauce, but it's odd that a sponsored concession stand wouldn't have BBQ sauce from its provider.

Regardless, the Sounds re-tweeted the picture I posted on Twitter of the nachos.



Late in the game after finishing my nachos, I opted to watch the remainder of the game from my seat behind home plate.  In the bottom of the 9th, Jeremy Hermida singled to center field to bring home Elian Herrera and give the Sounds a 2-1 win.

The legendary guitar-shaped scoreboard with the final score: Sounds 2, Aces 1.

Many people have written about the guitar-shaped scoreboard, which is truly one of most unique sights in Minor League Baseball, so there's not much I can add to that conversation.  However, fans should enjoy a "Last Cheer at Greer" with the old guitar scoreboard before the Sounds move onto their new digs.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baseball Stadiums: Bowling Green Ballpark

I have participated in the AP Human Geography Reading since 2011, which has taken place in Cincinnati each year.  I regularly attend Cincinnati Reds games while there, but also try to catch a game at a stadium I haven't visited before or watch a contest at a stadium I have not blogged about previously.

On my drive back to Georgia this year, I decided to make two stops: Bowling Green, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn.  I've been through Bowling Green and visited many of the sights in town, but my last visit was prior to the Hot Rods moving there in 2009.

As MiLB.com's Ben Hill detailed last spring, the stadium is at the center of a revitalized downtown.  If you want to read about his visit, you can click here for details.  I parked my car by Fountain Square Park, snapped some pictures of the park, and then walked over to the stadium.  There is plenty of parking on the streets around the stadium, if people prefer to park closer.  I wanted to visit the park, so chose to park there and make the short walk to the ballpark.

The stadium's entrance is unique because it doesn't scream out "baseball stadium here."  The most unique part of the entrance is the painting on the side detailing how to swing a baseball bat.

Main facade of the ballpark with its address.

Part 1 of 2 detailing how to swing a baseball bat.

Part 2 of 2 detailing how to swing a baseball bat along with the main gate.

By the ticket office is the only imagery outside the stadium displaying the Hot Rods logo.

Only spot on front of the stadium with Hot Rods logo.

The team draws its name from the General Motors Assembly Plant, which is home of the Corvette, but instead of incorporating a sleek, modern hot rod-style the team went with the 1930s and 1940s models for its logo.

The car theme is evident throughout the stadium, such as Chuck's Liquor Outlets Garage.  It wasn't until the next day that I realized the local sponsorship because I really focused on the name "Chuck's Garage" and the baseball bat hanging below it.  I also made a stop at Chuck's Liquor Outlets and bought two 750ml bottles of Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale made by Rogue Ales.  The unique part about the bat is that it appears as if it was dipped in red wax like a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon.

Signage for Chuck's Liquor Outlets Garage features a baseball dipped in red wax like a Maker's Mark bottle.

Close-up of the hot rod pickup.

Unlike Ben Hill's designated eaters, I did not have access to the Stadium Club.  Therefore, I did not get to sample the Grand Slam Burger.  The burger choices on the concourse level can be seen below...

The burger selection.

All the above burgers are available at Black Mountain Burgers.

The burger stand on the main concourse.

I really wanted to try the Grand Slam burger, and asked multiple employees about it.  Unfortunately, nobody was able to tell me where I could find it.  However, on my quest for burger heaven I was able to get my picture taken with both of the team's mascots: Axle the Bear and Roscoe the Grease Monkey.

Me with Axle the Bear.

Me with Roscoe the Grease Monkey.

Between my mascot photos and trying to decide on what to eat for dinner, I watched some baseball and took my seat behind home plate for the first pitch.

First pitch between the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Bowling Green Hot Rods.

I previously mentioned the ballpark as part of a revitalized downtown, and before I continue to neglect that topic I should include a picture of Hitcents Park Plaza.  It contains office space, but most notably has numerous restaurants on the first floor.  I had a beer at Mariah's before entering the stadium, but there were several other restaurants on the ground floor of the building.  None of the restaurants appeared packed, but on the Monday night I attended a game the restaurants all had a crowd of people dining and drinking before the ballgame.

The kids' area of the ballpark with Hitcents Park Plaza in the background.

Here is a shot of Hitcents Park Plaza from a distance.

View of Hitcents Park Plaza from the third base line.

Despite perusing the choices at Black Mountain Burgers, I could not decide on what to eat.  So I continued to explore the ballpark while watching the game.

Hot Rods starting pitcher Jaime Schultz.

Hot Rods designated hitter Armando Araiza.

Steakadelphia mobile stand down the third base line.

In the 3rd inning, I finally made a decision about my meal.  I decided to order a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich.  I've had a Hot Brown many times because I spent two years of my undergraduate education at the University of Kentucky.  However, I've never had a Kentucky Hot Brown at a baseball game.

I've gotten very good over the years at the one-handed photo of my ballpark food.

The Hot Brown was served on a hoagie roll, so instead of having it in the customary open-face fashion I folded the sandwich together after taking my picture.  It was good, and for those who are unfamiliar with a Hot Brown I highly suggest ordering it.  However, as a purist I would have preferred to eat it as an open-face sandwich with a knife and fork.  Admittedly eating food with a fork and knife while sitting at a baseball game isn't easy, so I don't blame the Hot Rods for tweaking the sandwich.

In addition to the very good food variety, the beer selection at Chuck's Liquors Outlets Garage was good.  There were the standard craft beer choices, but no particularly interesting local or Kentucky choices.  Maybe I was just being picky after spending a week in Cincinnati, where I had a plethora of unique options available.  Regardless, beer aficionados should be able to find something to suit their tastes.  I opted for a Goose Island Honker's Ale.

I have to admit I didn't pay a lot of attention to the between innings promotions, but when I was watching they seemed to be standard fare for a minor league team.  Two things that did stick out were the scoreboard and the retired number above the Hot Rods bullpen.

High-definition scoreboards have become common place at minor league stadiums, but note the Corvette Assembly sponsorship. Not many teams would swing that sponsorship deal.

Minor league teams do retire numbers, although it's not often.  While Jackie Robinson's #42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997.  Minor League Baseball is not bound by this retirement, but some teams have chosen to honor Robinson's legacy by retiring his number.

"42" in honor of Jackie Robinson above the home team bullpen.

Bowling Green Ballpark does not have a flashy exterior and it's interior fails to meet any grandiose, extravagant designs of some newer stadiums.  However, if you want to visit a beautiful ballpark in a re-born downtown where the team places an emphasis on #FUNNER then this is the place for you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Presidential Pathways: #11, James K. Polk

Born: Nov. 2, 1795, in Pineville, N.C.
Died: June 15, 1849, in Nashville, Tenn.
Burial Place: Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. (Visited: December 2005)

Burial Place

The grave of James and Sarah Polk is on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol.

Sarah Polk lived at the family mansion following her husband's death.

Polk spent a majority of his adult life in public service.