Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 20, 2013

In the House of Wood

Taken out to the ballgame

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville —

I had the best weekend I have had in very long time last weekend. 
 
Marcy and I joined my old friend Jake for Mystique Casino's Island Fest in Dubuque. 
 
I boil this down to luck. Jake and I took many baseball-related trips together with our mothers as kids. His mother saw an advertisement for the Team of Dreams event, and the roster of ballplayers associated with it. She immediately knew that Jake and I would have to attend, and she took care of getting our tickets. I owe her a huge THANK YOU there. 
 
There are very, VERY few times that I would agree to pay $100 for a single meal. But when we learned that we would get to hear from, quite literally, our childhood idols, we jumped at the chance to do so.
 
It was well worth every penny. I'd almost pay more. Chances are, if they do this again, they will look at the success of the dinner and ask for more. 
 
In any case, we knew nothing about the size of the venue, where we would sit, etc. Just being there was  going to be enough for us. 
 
When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised that it was a relatively small room, and we were ushered to a center table, two rows from the stage. We were about 20 feet away from these guys. It was awesome. 
 
As I wrote in the story, we were laughing ourselves silly throughout, but Pete Rose and Johnny Bench were the funniest. Jake and I agreed that it was a good thing they came on last, otherwise, the other guys may have seemed lame. I was in tears, I was laughing so hard at Pete. Most of his jokes, I don't feel comfortable reprinting here, but I found very humorous. 
 
All of the players know how to tell a good baseball story. 
 
On Saturday, we were on to the Field of Dreams. I'd been there before, but it's been several years. The place still looks the same and it is still something to behold. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. 
 
Saturday was the first time I ever got to see Bench or Reggie Jackson live at the plate. Granted, it was just a charity softball game and not game seven of the World Series, but still, I got to see these guys bat. Reggie still has power behind his swing, by the way. 
 
By the end of the game, I was already more than satisfied. My cheapness was also starting to return, so I passed on the photo and autograph opportunities. Besides, we learned that we did not get to pick which ballplayer we were photographed with. Chances are, we would have been stuck posing with Rickey Henderson, whom Jake and I have despised since 1991, when we saw him push a group of child autograph seekers down on his way in to the Royals' stadium. Rickey was not at Friday night's event, and we were not the least bit disappointed. 
 
I did bump into Bench and Jim Palmer after the game, as they made their way to the photograph session. I got to shake their hands. Their hands are HUGE. I felt like I had a tiny, little girl hand with the same grip during our brief meetings. Both were good guys, as Palmer posed with Jake for a photo for free and Bench, when he walked by our group, said hello and asked if we had a good time. 
 
The weekend provided a nice getaway and the chance to reconnect with my youth. As I've lamented before, I don't get as many opportunities to hang with Jake as I would like. 
 
But I need to make time, just as all of us do, for those we love. Not only the people we love, but the things we love, like baseball. Chances to meet boyhood heroes and see them up close rarely, if ever, come and we should leap at each opportunity. Not only did I get to do this with a man I still consider one of my best friends, but Marcy was able to come along. She and Jake's wife were both ignored for the most part while we acted like kids, but Marcy kept telling me that was fine. She understood.
 
In closing, I have to say don't worry, Mr. Bench. All of us had a great time.
 
Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.