Anyone driving around the Northeast this summer can’t help but notice the browned-out neighborhood lawns as this region has struggled to see any prolonged rains for months. I welcome rain for these folks, but just not this past weekend as a I had a baseball trip planned for Pittsfield and Troy. Saturday worked in my favor as I left downpours in Jersey to a light spritz while working my way up the Hudson Valley. By the time I reached Pittsfield around 5:00 PM, it was dry. I started downtown, where the city had some historical points and an older architecture worth driving thru, though there was a sense that the place has seen better times as it was not exactly hopping on a Saturday Night. Dinner was at the District Kitchen for a fine burger at the small bar.
Wahconah Park was built in 1919 and is one of the last remaining ballparks with a wooden grandstand. This is a stadium that oozes likability from purists. It was an auspicious start though as the parking situation in the dirt parking lot is cramped and poor, then I had to wait 15 minutes in a slow-moving line to get my ticket. The generic siding on the exterior, then gave way to the excellent experience I was expecting as I walked up the wonderful ramp behind home plate and into a charming ballpark that has stood the test of time. The wooden grandstand is what you would anticipate from that era as it is covered and held by support beams. Complementing the ballpark is a game experience reduced in theatrics. Just one between-inning contest and lots of organ music greeted a pleasant game that steps back in time. The contest was a FCBL one between the Suns and North Shore Navigators, who had uniforms like a junior high team. North Shore belted three solo home runs to bring a 3-0 lead into the 9th, but Pittsfield staged a rally in their last at-bat. Shaky closing pitching and defense gave up 2 runs with 2 outs and Pittsfield had the tying run at 3rd and the winning run at 2nd. However, Quinn DiPasquale struck out Al Zachary as North Shore hung on to win. That finish was played in a light rain and I would make a wet drive to the hotel. Not something I wanted to do on winding, two-lane Route 20 as insane hotel prices in the Pittsfield area led me to save a hundred bucks or so by driving 40 min to a place in East Greenbush, NY. I knew that the Berkshires were a popular summer spot for New Englanders, but is it that much where a Hampton Inn costs $330 on a weekend. Outrageous!
Sunday Morning, I woke up to a continuing rain and I decided to change my original plans of seeing the Hancock Shaker Village as much of the place is outdoors and the weather did not making that appealing (nor was a 1:10 round trip drive). So as I did some forecasting and contemplated the chances of the Tri-City ValleyCats to get their 5 PM game in, I altered my daytime plans by staying in the Capital District. First, after checkout, was lunch at Panera, mainly to use there Wifi and get some early review work in. With any noteworthy things to check out in Troy closed Sundays, I decided to head 10 minutes west to downtown Albany and check out the free NY State Museum for the afternoon while monitoring the ValleyCats Twitter account for game status as rain continued. This is the largest state museum in the country and I’m glad I made the detour as it was worthwhile. Lots of large displays complimented the informative pieces and there was a terrific section on the history of New York City that I found fascinating (especially the pieces on skyscrapers and Harlem). The poignant 9/11 gallery was tough to get through, but well done. The only criticism I have as a person born and raised in New York is the lack of attention to the many other areas of the Empire State. NYC of course had their section and so did the Adirondacks, but very little attention was given to regions in the western half. Nothing new in terms of being overlooked, but a synopsis of all the state’s regions would have been nice. Hopefully that gets taken care of during their massive, future renovation.
I got so caught up in this museum that I forgot to check the game status until 3 PM and unfortunately, the game was cancelled. My long-lasting luck of never having a rained-out baseball game that I made journey for came to end. Despite my disappointment, I had to focus on that positive and long lasting good fortune. Before the next downpour, I took a walk in the massive Empire State Plaza, a monolithic, 1984-like plaza that displaced thousands of people when built nearly 50 years ago. Mixed emotions resulted from this area that is somehow at the same time beautiful and ugly, intimidating and inviting. The ride home crawled south along I-87 and on the way, I thought about making my next trip (the CT Open in New Haven), a doubleheader by also visiting Dodd Stadium in Norwalk. Until then, the review of Wahconah Park will be up later this week, along with an updated review at Stadium Journey.