One of my favorite things about our baseball tours is to offer our guests the opportunity to meet former Major League Players, hear them tell stories about their big league careers, and to get a chance to interact with them, asking questions and getting pictures and autographs. Maybe I like offering that to our guests because I enjoy that myself? In fact, I'm sure it is. I had a chance to do just that yesterday.
Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, led by Dr. Tim Kremchek, sponsored an event held at the Green Diamond Gallery in Cincinnati and brought in Tommy John to speak. Mr. John was a Major League pitcher from 1963-1989, pitching for six different teams, but is probably thought of more as a Dodger or Yankee more than any other team affiliation. John posted multiple 20-win seasons, was a four-time All Star, and was a member of several playoff bound teams. He finished his career with 288 wins.
What's even more amazing about his career is the fact that, in the middle of his 26 years, he underwent experimental surgery to repair damaged ligament in his pitching arm, not knowing if he'd ever be able to pitch again. Mr. John told us yesterday that he first hurt his arm going from Little League pitching distances to Major League distance in his freshman year. That year he played first base and didn't pitch much. He continued to pitch with pain in his arm until he ultimately couldn't pitch any more and had the surgery.
This surgery was so successful that it has become very commonplace in baseball. In fact 1 out of 9 Major League pitchers will have the surgery. One in 9! This has extended the playing career of many great pitchers and even position players.
It was great to hear the stories behind the events that led to such a pivotal point in baseball from the man who lived through them personally and now has the surgery
I had the privilege of attending an event at the Green Diamond Gallery in Cincinnati. I have had several Cincy locals tell me that I needed to get up there but just hadn't had the opportunity to do so. Boy, were they right!
Here's how their website describes the gallery:
"The Green Diamond Gallery houses a breathtaking array of high-end baseball memorabilia dating back to the late 1800s.
• Marvel at the Hall of Fame Wall with photos and autographs of almost every inducted Hall of Fame member.
• Travel back to the founding of the Cincinnati Reds, re-live the team’s World Championships, and get information about our hometown’s greatest ball players through an incredible Reds Timeline.
• Gaze at hundreds of autographed and mounted baseballs from greats like Mantle, Ruth, Morgan and Bench.
• Browse vintage and current baseball books and magazines in our Library.
In addition, you’ll find:
• Hundreds of game-used baseball bats
• Game-worn jerseys, including jerseys from defunct teams and Hall of Famers
• Seats from stadiums old and new
• One-of-a-kind documents dating back to the 19th century
• Thousands of historical photographs depicting the greats of the game
• Signatures and photos from some of the most talked-about scandals in baseball, including Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Black Sox
• And much, much more!"
Much more is right. What kept running through my mind while I was there was that the gallery felt like Cooperstown had been brought to the best "man cave" ever conceived. It's hard to fathom the depth of the private collection. For instance, check out the picture to the left.
The wall is covered with photos of every Hall of Famer arranged by the year they were admitted to Cooperstown, and most have their autograph included, too. How incredibly amazing is that??
So for all of you who ever suggested that I should make a special trip to the Green Diamond Gallery, I now know that you weren't exaggerating a bit. And for those of you who haven't been, you'll now have to listen to me encourage you to get there as soon as you can. It's a great experience. In fact, one that we hope to incorporate on our trips through Cincinnati!!
The Big League Tours' Midwest 2 Tour will make its way to four great, newer ballparks to see eight different teams vying for playoff positions.
Our guests will arrive in Cincinnati on Wed., July 18th to check into the hotel and prepare for their luxury baseball vacation. On Thurs., we'll head over to Great American Ball Park for an early afternoon game with plenty of time after to visit the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Cincinnati area sportscaster, Will Chambers, recently blogged about his favorite things at GABP. Here's a link to that blog post Will Chambers on Great American.
Friday morning takes our tour up to Detroit to see Prince Fielder and the Tigers battle the White Sox in an evening contest. We're off to Cleveland the next day for the Indians game at 7:05PM. We plan to arrive in Cleveland with plenty of time for you to visit the sites before the game. Want to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Just ask your tour director to help make the arrangements.
Finally, our tour ends in one of our favorite ballparks- PNC in Pittsburgh. Here's a link to a blog by SI.com writer Will Carroll about PNC- Will Carroll on PNC Park
. As always, you can expect a Big League Player experience, lower level seats, first class hotels, sensible itineraries and all the BLT extras. CLICK HERE for the complete info on the Midwest 2 Tour. A printable/shareable brochure is available for the Midwest 2 Tour. Click on this link MIDWEST 2 BROCHURE to get access to the brochure
. Book by Feb. 8 and dinner is on us!
Book the Midwest 2 Tour by the end of the day on Feb. 8 and we'll buy you dinner* at the Palomino Restaurant and Bar in Cincinnati after the game on July 19th. Just use the coupon code DINNER when purchasing your tour. Ready to purchase your tour? Here's our RESERVATION PAGE.
*Dinner gift certificate value is $150. One gift certificate per room booked. Not valid with any other offers or discounts.
Great American Ball Park provides Reds fans and visitors one of the great baseball experiences in the game. Despite the Reds rich history (baseball’s first ever team) this is not a nostalgic feel type venue. Those are reserved for stops at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. And kudos goes out to those who planned this park for not trying to make it have that feel. What they did is give the city of Cincinnati an intimate setting to watch their beloved Redlegs.
As a person who grew up in the area going to Riverfront Stadium and GABP, there are a few great ways to watch baseball here, even for a Cubs fan like me. I’ll give you my favorite way to watch the game:
There are a number of seating options, including the ultra-premium “Diamond Club” seat section behind the batter’s box. My favorite spot is the club area. They call it the “4192” club after Pete Rose’s record-breaking hit mark. It's a great vantage point and I’m a fan of the elevated view and the club area goes up the first base line on the second level, right on top of the Reds dugout it seems. Inside it is comfortable with ice-cold Freon blowing and great food being served up. Some of which are Cincinnati favorites, LaRosa’s Pizza and Montgomery Inn barbeque as well as a pasta bar and several other stations. One thing to be sure to get: a Big Red Smokey. A hot-dog on steroids. It’s a smoked sausage that eats like a dog without quite the spice you get from a mett. There’s also an option to get one infused with cheddar cheese; a superior hot-dog.
Be sure to keep an eye on the scoreboard located above the bleachers in left (the lower level bleachers in left field leave you with a blocked view of the scoreboard and an area I would avoid FYI) to see two things: the scoreboard stumper and the Mr. Red Race. The stumper is never too difficult and the Mr. Red Race is the tradition at a Reds game.
Lastly, you must go to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum located just outside the front gate at GABP. This is widely considered the best Hall of Fame and Museum for a team in all of baseball. It features the largest collection of Reds collectibles, artifacts and memorabilia in the world. Two floors and 16,000 square feet of Reds heaven. It’s a must for any baseball fan.
After you’ve taken it all in, finish it off with a sundae from United Dairy Farmers. Your Cincinnati visit is done.
Will Chambers is a local sportscaster and journalist covering Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. His duties include feature sports columnist for Cincinnati Profile magazine and lead play-by-play announcer for Georgetown College, among others. He is a Cincinnati native who currently resides in Kentucky. You can check out his work at IHigh.com.
Cincinnati native and long-time standout for the Reds, Barry Larkin received the fateful call from the National Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday as he will be inducted into the Hall in 2012. MLB.com writer, Mark Sheldon, listed Barry's accomplishments in his article, "Hall of Fame Rolls Out Red Carpet for Larkin."
Larkin played 19 seasons -- all with the Reds -- from 1986-2004. He had a lifetime average of .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits, a .371 on-base percentage and 379 stolen bases. He was also a 12-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a nine-time Silver Slugger winner, a member of the 1990 World Series championship team and the 1995 National League Most Valuable Player.
In 1996, Larkin became the first shortstop in Major League history to be a 30-30 player when he had 33 homers and 36 steals during that season. Outside of the numbers, Larkin was also considered a man with intangibles and leadership. He was honored with the role of team captain in 1997.
Congratulations to Larkin for the recognition that he's receiving for his amazing career!
Want to visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York? Join us on one of our Hall of Fame Tours or our full East Coast Tour. Each of them include stops in the little village credited as the birthplace of baseball.
While I don’t mind sitting around and taking it easy at the beginning of each new year in front of the television watching more than a dozen football games, I must say, I prefer to be watching 9 innings of baseball. Many argue with me that football provides a more exciting and thrilling product. Perhaps that is true in their minds, and perhaps there is some truth to the fact that I have a far too simplistic mind that just flat doesn’t enjoy time clocks. Yet maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m okay with baseball being a less physical sport, but a dramatically neat game (as in tidy). I’m not sure. All I know is that I love the game of baseball and cannot wait for the new season to begin.
So while the NHL plays its Winter Classic in a baseball stadium today, college football continues to crown bowl victors, NFL teams prepare for the playoffs or talk strategy for future draft picks, and while my own hometown counts down the days until she will host her very first Super Bowl, I will continue to count down the days until Opening Day for Major League Baseball.
After today, my countdown will end in ninety-four days when my Cincinnati Reds take on the Florida Marlins on April 5, 2012 following a bunch of Opening Day ceremonies. How about you? How long do you have to wait until your team takes the field?
July 16, 2011 - Chris Welsh
Big League Tours is pleased to announce that former Major Leaguer, and current Reds
broadcaster, Chris Welsh will be joining us in Chicago as our part of our exclusive Big League Player Experience on the Reds Road Trip to Wrigley. Chris will visit with our group on Saturday evening after the Reds/Cubs game that afternoon.
Bio: Chris Welsh is in his 19th season as Reds TV analyst following a 5-year Major League career with the Padres, Expos, Rangers and Reds. Chris went 21-31 with a 4.45 ERA, 8 complete games and 3 shutouts in 122 career appearances, including 75 starts. From 1993-2009 Chris and partner George Grande worked together for the 17 seasons as the longest-running TV duo in Reds history.
He is a graduate of Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida, where his baseball coach was Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. In addition to his television work, Chris is a partner in Champions Sports Academy, which builds and operates numerous sports training facilities throughout the country. He also teaches pitching in the offseason, is the featured speaker at several national baseball forums and publishes articles on baseball.Trip Details
In case you've missed it, transportation is now included with the Reds Road Trip. We will be picking up guests in Cincinnati for the ride to Chicago. There is a possibility of a stop in Indianapolis, too.
We will pick up folks in Cincinnati on Thursday, August 4 for the first night's lodging in Chicago. Then we'll go to the game on August 5th fresh and well rested. We'll attend the games on 6th and 7th, then return home after the Sunday game so everyone can be at work on Monday (yuck, we know, but we don't control that part!).
But, book your tour this week. We will be closing the reservations for this tour on Monday, July 18.
July 7, 2011 - Today we're in Cincinnati for a media tour to talk about the remaining baseball vacation packages that we're offering this season.
One of the tours that we discuss in the clip the is the Reds at Wrigley tour. We still have a few spots left on this group package so check out the details and join us in Chicago.
April 1, 2011 - After a long, cold, miserable winter, Opening Day finally arrived. And none too soon. We made our way to Cincinnati yesterday for the parade, ceremonies (aren't fly-overs one of the coolest things on the planet??), and ball game at Great American Ball Park. The weather was a little iff
y yesterday but it didn't deter the 42,000+ fans from taking in the festivities celebrating the first game of the season of the oldest franchise in the Majors.
As a Reds fan, the game started a little, ok, very rough. If I remember right, Volquez had given up three runs before he recorded his first out. Not the way you want to start off the regular season. But after that, he seemed to settle down for several innings.
The topper of the day, though, was the 2-out, 3-run walk off home run by Ramon Hernandez! The Reds had 40 some come from behind victories last year and started off the same way they finished the regular season last year. Here's the box score
from the game.
Heading to the ballpark yesterday just made us more excited for baseball road trips that we have planned for the 2011 baseball season. If you are looking for baseball vacation packages that are done the way you want 'em, make sure you check out our site for the details on all of our upcoming tour vacations. You'll be glad you did!
February 23, 2011 - We are so happy to be associated with the Cincinnati Reds ballclub. They are an absolute first class organization and have been extremely helpful to us. Big League Tours was pleased to be a part of the Western Tour of the Reds Caravan a few weeks ago where we enjoyed meeting lots of Reds fans, and promoted some of our baseball road trips, including our tour to Chicago to the see the Reds on "The Reds Road Trip."
The Reds really know how to treat their fans. Folks from the Reds Hall of Fame, Ticket Sales Dept., and Reds Community Fund joined Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman, Gold Glover Brandon Phillips, Reds Legend Lee May, catching prospect Devon Mesoraco, Asst. GM Bob Miller, and former Reds standout Ryan Freel on the Caravan. Everyone had a great time.
I also want to mention something that I thought was a true display of class by Brandon Phillips. At the Castleton Square Mall, in Indianapolis, it became evident that many people who had waited in line for a long time would not make it to the autograph table before the Caravan was scheduled to leave. Phillips stood up from the table and walked down the line to sign every autograph so no fan was disappointed. Not only did he sign, he spoke with the fans, took pictures, and in general, was extremely generous to everyone. To me, that is what makes Brandon Phillips a true superstar.
Thanks to Charley Frank, Executive Director of the Reds Community Fund, for putting us on the Caravan, and to CincinnatiUSA.com and Ed McMasters, for sponsoring the event. We are already looking forward to next year.