by Tommy Viducich
Most people know that I (Tommy) am a sports fanatic. Throughout this trip, Matt, Aaron and Sara have constantly had to listen to me rattle off sport related statistics and scores. For better or worse, I love it and find myself racing to get a newspaper most mornings to check the previous night’s scores. I even bought a little hand held radio so I could listen to the San Francisco Giants baseball games. There were some exhilarating nights as Aaron and I listened to S.F. Giants playoff games in our tent.
A couple weeks ago, as we were riding through New York (Yankee nation), we saw a sign that read “Cooperstown – 10 miles”. My mind was already on baseball because the World Series had begun the night before and I was shocked that we were so close to Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It seemed like fate, we happened to stumble upon the Baseball Hall of Fame and my team, the S.F. Giants, were in the World Series. The only problem was that Cooperstown was exactly 10 miles in the wrong direction. After a brief amount of debating, we decided that we could not miss this opportunity. I think I can honestly say that, due to my massive excitement, that is the fastest 10 miles that I’ve hammered out on this trip.
Cooperstown is baseball central and it was a thrill to ride into the little town. As we entered the Hall of Fame, I could barely contain my excitement. I was blown away to see everything from Babe Ruth’s actual jersey to a limited edition Ricky Vaughn (Wild Thing) bobble head. The whole experience gave me an appreciation for how baseball has played a role in American history. I could probably have spent a couple days in there but we had some miles to cover so we rode out of Cooperstown with our minds swirling around America’s pastime.
For the next couple days, much to Matt’s chagrin, Aaron and I talked a whole lot about baseball. The S.F. Giants were close to winning the World Series so this encouraged a lot of discussion. When we made it to Vermont, the Giants were two games away from winning the whole thing. While we were staying with a family in Bennington, I tiptoed around the idea of watching the night’s game. To my utter excitement, they said they would love to watch the game! After an impromptu banjo jam session we all crowded around the T.V. and became enveloped in the game. They couldn’t remember the last time they watched a game and said their daughters probably never had watched a game but there we were, yelling, screaming, and rooting for our home team. The Giants won, only one game away from winning the World Series.
The next night, I knew we could not miss the possible final game so Aaron and I found a local bar to watch the game. As soon as I walked in, I spotted a guy with a Giants baseball cap on. I had to at least give him a high five and yell “Go Giants!” We started to chat and it turns out he was a diehard fan who flew to San Francisco to see game 1 and 2. We pulled up some stools and started to watch the game with our new found Giant fanatic friends. Late in the game, it was tied 0-0 and the Giants were up at bat. We all felt like something was going to happen and sure enough they blasted a 3 run homerun. We all jumped out of our seats and yelled “it’s going, it’s going, it’s gone!!!” There are not many times when you find yourself hysterically yelling, jumping and hugging complete strangers, this was one of them. That homerun was enough and a few innings later, we yelled “strike three” and that was it, the Giants won the World Series for the first time since 1954. We all cheered in state of euphoria/disbelief.
That is what I love about bike touring; you never know what will happen next. We stumbled across Cooperstown and experienced the Baseball Hall of Fame. We had a whole Vermont family that we just met cheering for a team that they have never heard of and we watched our team win the World Series in a small bar 4,000 miles away from home with new friends. Many people will say that baseball is not America’s pastime anymore but I sure can say that it brings complete strangers together in the best way possible. Who knew the combination of bike touring and baseball could be so good… A light bulb just went off! How about a bike tour to every ball park in America, who’s in?