Monday, July 13, 2009

Baseball Museum 13: Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

On July 10, 2009, before going to the Orioles game one of the museums we visited was the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. The Museum is easy to find just by following the baseballs painted on the sidewalk from the Babe Ruth statue in front of Eutaw Street to across the street from the museum. Thus parking at the Orioles Park at Camden Yards is a good place to park to see the museum if you are also going to a game that day, especially since it did not seem to have any parking next to it other than maybe a little bit of street parking.

We got to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum and discovered that it is not accessible. There is not even an accessible way into the museum. However, there are only a few big steps up into it. Dad and I just lifted Mik up into the museum. The museum does have a second floor, which was impossible for Mik to get to, but at least he was able to experience most of the museum. They even let him in free since he could not experience the whole museum and we had to lift him up the steps to get him to even the first floor. Note when you buy admission they ask if you want to donate $1 to the future remodel of the museum and that remodel is to make the museum accessible. We donated a $1 and encourage all other visitors to do so in order for Mik and other physically disable people can enjoy the whole museum, especially since some cannot even enjoy the amount Mik was able to.

The bulk of the museum is on the first floor. This includes a re-creation of the house Babe Ruth grew up in that originally stood where the recreation now sits. In the re-creation they also have a small display about the bars his father owned, which included some items from the bar he owned that once stood where Orioles Park at Camden Yards is now. The items were found when they were excavating to build the Orioles Park.

One of the most interesting things at the museum is the wall of plaques commemorating all the home runs Babe Ruth hit. There is a small plaque for each home run. It is kind of like the giant wall of balls at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame commemorating Pete Rose’s hits. Of course, the 714 home run display is quite a bit smaller than the 4,256 hits display, but still impressive even though it is not the record anymore.

Other exhibits on the first floor include one on other ballplayers that have hit over 500 career home runs and a room that chronicles Babe Ruth’s professional baseball career. In the room about his career they have memorabilia such as Babe Ruth uniforms, Babe Ruth bats, and balls signed by Babe Ruth.

The second floor of the museum does not have much, so Mik did not really miss the big stuff at least. The main thing on the second floor is the recreation of the second floor of the house Babe Ruth grew up in. The main display on the second floor includes artifacts related to him playing at St. Mary’s school.

Overall the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum was worth stopping at even though it is not exactly accessible. It does a good job of showing the career of Babe Ruth, as well as recreating the house he grew up in, which actually stood where the recreation is.

Car Sticker Update: Independence National Historical Park

We found a bumper sticker at the Independence National Historic Park and added it to the back of the car. The bumper sticker has an image of the liberty bell on the left side. It says Philadelphia Birthplace of Liberty Independence National Historical Park.

Car Sticker Update: Philadelphia Phillies

At the Phillies Team Shop we got a set of stickers. We could have put a sticker of just the Philies logo on to the National League side of the car, but instead we decided to go with the special one. The special one honors the Phillies being the World Series Champions last season. It is a ball and bat design that says Phillies World Series Champions in the middle. Below the ball is a little Phillies Liberty Bell logo.

Accessibility Review: Citizens Bank Park

Plenty of official parking lots at Citizens Bank Park are located around the park. We found a spot right across the street they close for pedestrian traffic. They seem to have a good amount of handicap parking here and it seemed that even after though the game was sold out not that many arriving by car arrived early to the game.

When the park first opened they only had Ashburn Alley open behind the outfield. Here they have an area with a time line history of Philadelphia baseball history and the Phillies Wall of Fame. This area has steps down to it with a ramp next to the steps. The ramp works for the most part, but it would have been better if they had flipped the set up of the steps and ramp or just made it all ramped. The issue is that to see the timeline up close you have to go by each chunk and then turn around to get to the ramp to the next chunk. It was not really an issue since it was not crowded when we were there, but it is potentially an annoyance if this area is crowded, which really does not take much since the path is not that big here.

In Ashburn Alley before the rest of the park opened we got some fries and sat in the picnic area by the barbeque place. Mik was not really able to get up to the table due to them being circular picnic tables without enough room between the bench parts for Mik’s wheelchair to scoot up to the table. It was not a problem for Mik at the time, as he was not trying to eat anything, but it certainly would not have worked if he had wanted to eat at the table and not on his lap at that time.

Once the rest of the park opened we headed to find our seats in section 207. It was not easy to find the elevator up to the seats, but we were finally shown by a staff member where the elevator to the club level was located. It is kind of hidden and no signs point to it, which is actually a good thing because it keeps people that do not need it from hogging it. At the end of the game there was a little bit of a wait because up top it is easier to find, but the usher outside the elevator made sure we got on first as soon as he noticed us waiting.

Our seats in section 207 were good seats. The view of the field and scoreboard was unobstructed and even the bar in front did not really get in the way. There were also cup holders at a decent height for Mik, however, there was only one for every few spaces and between the three of us there was only the one for Mik and Dad and I had to put our drinks on the ground. It is one thing if the seats in front do not have cup holders, but when they all do it is an unfairness that annoys Mik that not every spot in the handicap row has a cup holder.

Overall the accessibility experience at Citizens Bank Park was great. It lives up to the expectations of it being accessible since it is a newer ballpark. The only issues are the somewhat poor design of the Philadelphia baseball timeline area and the cup holders and both are rather minor inconveniences, especially the cup holder situation, although to Mik that is an important aspect of accessibility.

Kj’s Baseball Collection: Citizens Bank Park

At the Phillies Team Shop I was able to get a ballpark baseball for Citizens Bank Park. The ball has one strip with a brick background. On this strip there is a logo that says Home of the Phillies Citizens Bank Park Est. 2004. On the other side of the strip is a red Phillies P logo. The other strip has a view of the infield including the World Series 2008 logo.

Mik’s Mini Bat Collection: Red Phillies

At the Phillies Game Mik choose a red mini bat. The mini bat says Phillies in dark blue. It also has the Liberty Bell logo in dark blue on it.

Day 50: Veterans Stadium

Veterans Stadium is where the Philadelphia Phillies played before moving into their current ballpark, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. The stadium was used by the Phillies since it was opened and until the end of the 2003. The stadium was demolished and turned into a parking lot for the Phillies new ballpark next door before the 2004 season began. The Philadelphia Eagles also used the Stadium from 1971 to 2002.

Outside the parking lot we first found the obvious statues of baseball players and the Veterans Memorial. The statue of the baseball players is bigger than life and has plaques commemorating the history of Veterans Stadium as it is related to baseball. There is also a football one that commemorates the history of football played there. The Veterans Memorial not only commemorates the former site of the stadium, but also is a memorial to veterans, as the stadium was.

In the parking lot we found the markers for home plate, the bases, and the pitching mound. The markers are granite and have a plaque in the middle with a ballpark image that says Phillies and Philadelphia Veterans Stadium 1971-2003. The bases say which base they are, so they do not all look exactly the same. There are also goal posts markers in the parking lot somewhere to honor it having been a football stadium, but we did not find them or even care to try to locate those.