Personal Journey: At Age 91 - I Hit A Home Run!

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The graduate "Robert J. Becker", with Mom (left), Nana, and Dad at the site of the commemorative brick. FLORENCE KEMPISTA

My grandson was graduating law school three years ago and I wanted to honor him in a special way. An accomplishment like this comes around once in a lifetime so this gift needed to be extra-special.

As he is an avid baseball fan, I thought perhaps a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame was in order. But how to immortalize this momentous occasion was my dilemma. I had heard that Doubleday Field (the birthplace of America’s Pastime) was doing some renovations to their baseball field and stadium grounds. A new brick walkway was being installed and the bricks could be purchased and personalized so I thought, what a treasured gift.

To follow the song lyrics of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” we bought some peanuts and Cracker Jack, packed up the car and drove to Cooperstown, N.Y. My daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and I had a wonderful drive together, with never a mention about “the brick.” After arriving at our destination, unpacking and grabbing some dinner, we decided to get some rest for our long day of sightseeing the next day.

It was a glorious day (cool, sunny, just perfect weather for baseball).  We were on our way to the Hall of Fame when we stopped to take a photo at the entrance to Doubleday Field.  I asked my grandson to stand in a specific location for the best photo opportunity.  As he looked around, he saw the Doubleday Field worker installing his special brick. What a surprise — what a moment!

Even if you are not a baseball fan, Cooperstown, N.Y., has so much to offer for everyone of every age. It’s located on beautiful Otsego Lake, the source of the Susquehanna River, and you can take a 19-mile boat ride between the tree-lined hills and valleys of the village and surrounding area, enjoy a performance at the renowned Glimmerglass Opera House, tour the historic Farmer’s Museum containing the legendary Cardiff Giant, peruse the works of James Fenimore Cooper at the Fenimore Art Museum, and dine at the Cooperstown Diner, which boasts the “smallest diner with the biggest burgers” (the diner is so small that it only has half an address). Artisan shopping, crafted brews, antiques and designer labels are all available at the quaint little shops on Main Street.

We are three generations on a now-annual road trip to Cooperstown to see all that this village has to offer and, of course, to dust off “the brick.” We aren’t plugged into any devices, just talking with each other and enjoying the sights from our car windows. It is pure Americana at its best!

Now 94½ years young, even though I can’t swing a baseball bat, I still feel like I hit a grand slam home run!