It’s been almost a month, so I guess it’s time to write something about Baseball Tour 2009. Pictures are available here.
I flew out to Chicago the crack of dawn in Saturday, July 18th. I met my brother at O’Hare Airport and we picked up our rental car, a 2010 Kia Forte with all of 240 miles on it. We didn’t have any games scheduled for the day, so we did the tourist thing in the museum district of Chicago. After a quick drive-by of Soldier Field, our first stop was the Shedd Aquarium where we had lunch, followed by the Adler Planetarium (just short of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing). Lou Malnati’s on South State Street was our dinner.
Game one was the following day, featuring the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Our hotel was right on the subway line, so we just went two stops south to New Comis…. I mean U.S. Cellular Field. Sox pitcher Jose Contreras didn’t have anything on the day, throwing 99 pitches and giving up 4 walks in only 4.1 innings pitched. The O’s won 10-2. Notable parts of the afternoon included our quest to get inside the ballpark even though our tickets were missing, and the singing beer vendor (“Buy some, buy some, buy some beer from mee…” based on an opera standard). The evening involved a stop at the Weber Grill in downtown Chicago and a walk through Navy Pier.
Monday July 20 wrapped up the museum district. Since we had a night game, we visited the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago (home of Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and Wood’s “American Gothic“), the “Sears” Tower (name changed to “Willis Tower” on July 16th, but everything still said Sears), and ate at Jimmy Johns subs. Game two was the White Sox versus the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox won this one 4-3. Sox closer Bobby Jenks loaded the bases in the 9th (a sign of things to come), but struck out Jason Bartlett to win it. Despite the 4-3 final score, this was a good offensive battle. Rays CFer Carl Crawford hit an inside-the-park HR in the 4th, and the game had 4 HRs total. The hero of the game however was Sox CFer Scott Podsednik, who went 3-3 with a walk and 2 runs scored.
The following day we took advantage of having a car to explore lands further out from our hotel. We drove to the Museum of Science and Industry south of the city. There was some cool stuff there, such as a captured WWII U-Boat, a massive model train display, Lego skyscrapers, classic cars, model boats, and the Wright Brothers Flyer. We managed to avoid the Harry Potter stuff though. That was extra money (which reminds me, if you ever go to Chicago and plan on hitting up more than one of the museums, get the Chicago City Pass. It’s totally worth it). We lunched on ice cream 1910 style at the museum.
The afternoon involved a road trip to the western suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. Reading one of those tourist guides from the hotel, I discovered that the Ernest Hemingway museum and his birthplace were right out there in Oak Park. We fought traffic and made it out to the museum with less than an hour before closing time. The walking tours to his birthplace were done for the day, but it was only two blocks, so we hoofed it ourselves. The Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio were nearby as well, but we were too late to make the tour.
The evening’s game was game 2 of the Sox-Rays series. Remember what I said about Bobby Jenks? The Rays took this one 3-2 as the Sox closer gave up 2 in the 9th.
Wednesday we bode goodbye to Chicago for a bit and drove to Detroit. The trip took much longer than expected, as it rained most of the time and along the way we made a brief stop to see the University of Notre Dame. Not wanting to risk our lives, we spent the night outside of Detroit in Allen Park, MI, but we did tour the city briefly and stop at Cheli’s Chili Bar for dinner with a friend from New Jersey.
To be continued…