Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baseball Museum 18: Legends of the Game Museum

On July 23, 2009, before leaving Arlington, Texas, we went back to the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington in order to see the Legends of the Game museum they have inside the ballpark. The museum has three levels to it and is actually got a good amount to see, however, a big portion of it is just stuff from the Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum collection and seems to be a lot of lesser known players with not enough info to understand why they put the person’s stuff on display other than they did play professional baseball. Come on I got to imagine they can come up with one interesting stat or thing each player has done even if it is not record breaking or overall historically important.

The first floor of the Legends of the Game Museum was mostly things on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. There is also a small theater area that honors Sammy Sosa hitting his 600th Home Run at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, which was a game that he was a Texas Ranger in against his old team the Chicago Cubs. They have several items on display from this historical game including a base and the line up card. The video of his home run and the celebration afterwards continuously plays in this area. One of the walls also honors the other members of the 600 Home Run Club.

Personally I found a lot of the Hall of Fame stuff on the first floor boring. It is basically just like visiting Cooperstown, but it does not have the history of baseball or the actual hall of fame plaques that are the main things good about the real Hall of Fame. It is not bad if you cannot get to Cooperstown, but it is kind of boring after having seen Cooperstown. They do have a few interesting things, though, such as an original ticket booth from the Polo Grounds in New York City and Babe Ruth’s 1921 King of Swat trophy. They also actually have some items used in the Negro Leagues to look at, which is the opposite if Cooperstown, which does have a whole room devoted to the Negro Leagues, but does not have much in terms of artifacts on display. Thus I guess in some ways this place is better, but it also has its out of date flaws like the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The biggest of the errors is that they have at least two places with North America maps with dots where the 30 Major League Baseball teams are located. Well, the map is at least 5 years out of date because it still lists the Montreal Expos as being current and not having moved to D.C. to become the Washington Nationals. The error about their not currently being a team in D.C. is also in the second floor exhibits about the Washington Senators moving to the Rangers and saying that no team has been in D.C. since. Being a Nationals fan I found it pretty insulting that they basically still ignore it existing and are too lazy to at least put a post it fixing the errors. It sure was tempting to get a Sharpie and mark the Nationals on their giant map.

Despite the errors in information related to baseball in D.C. I did enjoy the second floor. It has displays that basically tell the history of the Texas Rangers. They may ignore that there is currently a team in D.C., but at least they do not ignore that their team history begins as them being the second Washington Senators team that began after the first Senators left to become the Minnesota Twins. Of course, it is still mostly about the team’s time in Texas, but that is understandably how it should be since it is in the Texas Rangers ballpark. Also, as expected one of the bigger displays is devoted to Nolan Ryan, who finished his career with the Rangers.

The second floor has more than just displays about the Rangers organization. One of the areas shows the history of baseball in the state of Texas mostly focusing on the Texas League. They also have a ballpark exhibit that includes a look at the building of the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington with models of the stadium. They also have parts from other ballparks as part of the things they have from Cooperstown. This includes lockers from the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati and seats from around 10 old ballparks, such as the Polo Grounds in New York City, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and Tiger Stadium.

The final part of the museum is an interactive exhibit area. Here you can get the feel of what it is like to catch a ball thrown by Nolan Ryan. This is just like the one at the Nolan Ryan Exhibit Center, but Dad and Mik missed that part, so they both tried it here. There is also several areas that quiz on different subjects and use baseball to help teach the different subjects, such as Math, Science, and Geography. Mik really enjoyed catching the ball from Nolan Ryan thing, which was nicely wheelchair accessible to roll up to.

Overall the Legends of the Game Museum was interesting, but the first floor was kind of a dull repeat of part of what we already saw a Cooperstown. The second floor was definitely the best part with the history of the Rangers and some things from various ballparks. The third floor is also kind of cool with the interactive things. Note the museum is accessible, but you will have to ask for help finding and using the elevator, since it is hidden and also does not always drop you off directly in the museum and it can be confusing to find your way back into the museum without help. I still do not like that they ignore the Nationals existing, but it is accessible and it was still worth seeing.

Ballpark Tour: Rangers Ballpark at Arlington

We did not purposely end up on a tour of the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, but it turns out that it is included with the admission price to the Legends of the Game Museum, so when we visited the museum on July 23, 2009, we also ended up taking a tour of the ballpark. Mik was quite annoyed that we ended up doing this tour, but we would not even be on this trip if we always gave into his complaining. I was not going to pass up on something that was part of the museum admission, especially since I had thought $12 was steep for just a small museum, but it was not too bad of a price when I learned it included the tour. Anyways once it started he stopped complaining, but it only because he knew there was no turning back and not because the tour was spectacular.

The tour really was just of the behind home plate levels of the ballpark. It involved using the media elevator to go to various floors, which may or may not be the normal tour, as I know in the past ballpark tours have been modified because Mik was on them, but this one did not feel modified, as it was not like there were special accommodations taken into consideration. Thus the tour was overall accessible, but some stops involved steps that made it hard for Mik to enjoy parts, especially the Suite.

The first stop on the tour was the Press Room. The press room is located up behind home plate. It is interesting to see, but really not that different than seeing the press room at other ballparks we have taken tours of. At least Mik could roll up to the front and see the view from this part of the tour.

The second stop on the tour was the Arlington Suite. Along the way to the suite we could see some of the other suite entrances, which have paintings of famous ballplayers, such as Joe DiMaggio. Just a few feet into the suite are steps, so Mik really just got to see the kitchen part on top of the steps. If you go down the steps you can go up to the sliding doors and see what the view is like.

The next part of the tour involved going down in the tunnel below the stands. Not as cool as the unique view of centerfield we got in the tunnel at Yankee Stadium using the wheelchair accessible route to Memorial Grove, but still interesting because we saw some of the behind the scenes rooms. One of the rooms we saw was the room that the Rangers can take indoor batting practice. We also got to see the Media Room, where the coaches, players, etc. give press conferences.

The final part of the tour was going into the dugout from the tunnel. The ramp that leads down to it is accessible, but then there are steps up into the dugout. We did not deal with the steps in the Suite, but here Dad took Mik up the steps to get into the dugout. It was kind of cool to go into the dugout, but really it is just the normal end to a rather typical ballpark tour.

Honestly the tour disappointed me. There was not really anything special that we got to see. It was all rather dull parts of the ballpark that really could have been any ballpark with even very minimal Texas Ranger décor to make it stand out as your at the Rangers Ballpark. Maybe, it would be interesting if we were at all into the Rangers team, but being an American League team we do not really even know any of the names of players on the team.

I did not even get the feel we learned anything about the Rangers history or the ballpark. Sure they have not really been that much of a Championship team, but I got to imagine they have some interesting history. All the tour guide seemed to talk about was how it used to be better without really even saying why anti-Bush things and even that barely got to what he had to do with the Rangers. Basically you could only enjoy her rambling if you already were a Rangers fan and knew about the team management history.

Accessibility Review: Rangers Ballpark at Arlington

Parking at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is easy to find, as parking lot surround the park. Note it does seem that all the handicap spots are in lots marked reserved or passes needed, but they do act as cash lots if you have a handicap placard or plate. The day of the game we parked across from the closed off street near the first base gate, as that is where our original tickets said to go in. This is also the best entrance if you need an elevator to the upper deck (300s), as I will explain in a little bit.

Be careful lining up outside the gates before they open. If you do not have season tickets then you do not want to be to the left because they only would check bags and let people through there if they had season tickets. Besides it seemed only the turnstiles in the middle had room for wheelchairs to go through, which is where we ended up after they opened and told our line they had to move to the center. By the way that was very annoying because just before they opened they had split us off from the center lane and told us to line up to the left. Note that they only cared about season tickets for bag check and did not care if you had them or not for the left turnstile lanes specifically marked Season Ticket. I have a feeling it is based on who is at the particular stations that day that determines how strict they are on it being a season ticket line on the left or not.

Before we headed up to the seats we originally had tickets to in 334 we walked around on the main concourse level a little. We ended up by the 3rd base entrance and noticed an elevator there. The elevator here, however, is a freight elevator, which was kind of annoying to use because of the staff still using it for getting things to concession stands and such, but I guess it does have the plus of being big and not end up crowded even with the staff. We did not notice any regular elevators on this side of the park, but later when we went down to our surprise upgraded seats we used the elevators on the 1st base side and these are normal ones.

The section we had bought tickets for the Rangers game was 334. The handicap seats here were almost as good as the section we ended up getting a surprise upgrade to. However, the view from 334 is not recommended. Even Mik was disappointed as soon as we got to the seats because right field is blocked from view along with the view of the main scoreboard and the secondary Coca Cola one. Only accessibility issue was that there was unfairly no cup holders for the wheelchair spots and only the spots with actual seats. The seats were also not raised that much above the row in front, but there was not a bar blocking the view either.

The seats we ended up enjoying the game from were in section 18. They were pretty much the same accessibility wise as the upper section, except they did have cup holders for every spot including the wheelchair, so Mik did not feel discriminated against here. Not being raised up above the row in front much did not turn out to be an issue for the most part, as the fans mostly stayed seated. However, there was a lot of foot traffic in the aisle, which happened to perfectly block the view of the batter. This was not too bad, but it was annoying that it was often the vendors that stood and lingered in the way until someone would finally tell them to get down out of the way. At most ballparks vendors will usually squat down when serving someone, but here they never did it except the one time I saw someone yell at them for being in the way. Of course, just being able to see the whole field and the scoreboard made a big difference over our original section 334, especially since they often did instant replays of the things we sometimes missed because of people in the aisle.

Overall the Rangers Ballpark rates high middle in terms of accessibility, but it does have some flaws. The parking is easy to find and close. The seats in the lower area do have cup holders, but the upper area did not have them for the wheelchair spots. No where in the park did there seem to be accessible seats raised up above the row in front any more than the normal one step, which really makes viewing games hard for Mik unless it is a very low crowd game and no one sits in the two rows in front of the section. Being a Boston Red Sox game, though, it was crowded and it did make seeing the game hard, but it was not too bad because at least in our section the people in front were for the most part seated or at least quickly got in and out of the row.

Day 71: Mik and his Lion

We are doing the Lion Country Safari today before the final game/ballpark of the trip tonight. Mik got a stuffed animal lion as his souvenir. He thinks it will go great with his cheetah.

Sent from my iPhone

Update from laptop 7/29/09: Mik is happy to have finally found a nice snuggy animal as a souvenir of this trip. He tends to like to get one every summer vacation. Several summers ago is when he got the cheetah at the Los Angeles Zoo and two years ago he got his Hard Rock D.C. bear that is his car animal. He had a chance to look at stuffed animals at the Georgia Aquarium and at some of the Build-a-Bears at the ballparks, but the lion was the first one he spotted that he imagined himself actually snugging a lot and he does not believe in wasting money on a stuffed animal if it is not going to get a good amount of snuggy time.