Shotgun's Long Drive To Cooperstown: Part One - B's Baseball Museum
Pittsburgh Crawfords Hall of Fame third baseman Judy Johnson once said, “Baseball is like everything else. You got to study every angle to win.” With that in mind, I embarked on a cross-country journey to study as much as I possibly could to give authenticity to a historical fiction story I am writing.
I received approval from the university to proceed with my graduate thesis project at 10 a.m. Thursday morning. For the next seven hours, I researched potential sites, exhibits, museums and people I could visit on a cross-country baseball research trip. After showering, packing and eating delicious In-N-Out, I hit the asphalt and set out for Denver, my first stop.
The drive to Denver will probably be my longest drive prior to the return to the West Coast. I left around 8:30 p.m. and drove through the night, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks.
The sunrise as I drove through Utah was amazing. Driving through the Rocky Mountains is indeed a breathtaking experience that I highly recommend.
I arrived at B’s Ballpark Museum around 12:45 p.m. Friday. After being on the road for 16 hours and having only eaten a small bag of Cheetos, a pickled sausage and some sunflower seeds, I wouldn’t have minded sitting down for a nice meal, but the museum was scheduled to close at 2. I needed to get as much research done as I could.
B’s Ballpark Museum is run by Bruce “B” Hellerstein and his wife, Lynn. The museum is essentially Hellerstein’s private collection of artifacts that outgrew his basement. It houses a number of ballpark-related artifacts and a section devoted to Colorado baseball history.
Only a block or two from Coors Field, B's is a perfect little pre-game stop for anyone catching a Rockies game. There are plenty of cool artifacts, but Hellerstein’s collection also features some very interesting one-of-a-kind pieces, including the outfield drain cover Mickey Mantle tripped over in the 1951 World Series.
Unfortunately, Hellerstein was out of town this weekend, so I couldn’t pick his brain for ballpark knowledge, but Lynn led me to a small library in a back room where I was able to go through a collection of books about the various old ballparks.
The park I have the most interest in, Greenlee Field in Pittsburgh, also appears to be one of the least written about. Like the Negro Leagues, Greenlee Field is often overlooked. The ballpark books don’t often mention the Negro League stadiums, and Greenlee Field only existed for six years before it was demolished with a wrecking ball. This could make my research on this particular topic difficult, but I’m hoping the city of Pittsburgh will offer some insight. However, that is still a few days down the road.
After staying with a fellow Annenberger at his friend’s place just outside Denver, I was able to get a full night’s sleep on a futon and am now re-energized and ready to continue the sojourn.
Next Stop: Kansas City.
- Non-Destination Stops: 6
- Eminem Songs Heard: 6 (severely hurt by there not being many radio stations along I-70 in Utah)
- States: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado
- Rivers: Green, Colorado
- Full Meals: 1
- Hours of Sleep: 10
- Big Rig Trucks Passed: 149
- Pictures Taken: 270 (most while driving)
- Miles: 1,035
Interesting Fact of the Day: Forbes Field in Pittsburgh never sold beer, but until the 1950s fans were allowed to bring their own beer into the stadium.