Sunday, March 01, 2009

State Memories Project: Delaware

It's the first of the month, so I will remind everybody what I'm up to with this State Memories Project. The concept is here, and audience participation is encouraged.

This was supposed to be posted last Sunday, but I postponed it due to the birth of my son, which you might be seeing when we get around to Washington's memory. So those of you who have been breathlessly coming back here, eager to read my best-ever Delaware memory: gee, I'm sorry.

Anyhoo. Delaware. It's a baseball-related memory.

There was almost nobody in Wilmington on the day I visited it for a ballgame in 2007. Wilmington is a credit-card and financial center, so it is absolutely deserted on the weekend. I got a fantastic deal at a ritzy hotel—but so few people were in the hotel that they’d even shut down the restaurant for the weekend.

I wandered along the lovely waterfront walk. It was a sunny day, and I figured I’d find people there. Nope. It was also totally abandoned. I then made it to the ballpark very early for a Saturday night game…about an hour before the gates opened It’s a good thing I did, too, because attached to the stadium was the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. I love sports museums with extremely local flavor. I wandered in, checked out the plaques, and kept saying “Huh! I didn’t know he was from Delaware.” A Hall of Fame with such a miniscule population to draw from honors some athletes that wouldn’t make any other Hall of Fame. Steve Watson, a pretty-good-but-not-great Denver Bronco wide receiver of my youth, was in there. So was Val Whiting, a women’s basketball player for the my dearly-departed Seattle Reign ABL basketball squad.

The most memorable part of the day, however, was that I had a personal museum guide the whole time. I can’t remember his name, but the man in charge of the museum must have been extremely lonely (NOBODY was in there, and since NOBODY was anywhere else in Wilmington on a Saturday, he must have sat there all alone all day.) He walked me through the museum on a personal tour. When he found out I was from Washington state, he took me to the couple of Hall-of-Famers with Washington ties. When he found out I was a sports official, he took me to the two or three referees who were enshrined. When I said I wanted to write a piece for Referee magazine on a specific game, it turned out that he (who was a basketball referee in addition to his museum duties) knew one of the guys who reffed that game—and he gave me the ref’s address and phone.

Sure, it’s not the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum, or even Cooperstown, but when the heck else am I going to get a 45-minute-long personal tour of any museum by such a nice guy?

Okay, friends and strangers. Out with it. What crazy-ass stuff do you remember from the First State?


pankleb said...

Delaware: a long road trip, a hectic 24 hours in New York/New Jersey, a need for a break. A drive into quiet, foggy, beachy Dover for a peaceful night in a hotel. A great break between the frenzy of NYC and the frenzy of DC.

I will always have good thoughts about that place.

Anonymous said...

TRP's parents took a west coast to east coast Amtrak oddesey 4 years ago. Don't try this unless you are retired and can afford to be hours to days behind schedule. Because of a derailment in Penn. we were rerouted from Chicago to northern New York state and treated to a beautiful ride down the Hudson River to New York City. To get to our final destination of D.C. we had to travel through Delaware. My memories of the state are of urban blighth and train stations.