Baseball BeatMay 09, 2008
A Bite Out of the Big Apple
By Rich Lederer

After a memorable subway ride and visit to Yankee Stadium (to see the old and the new) on Wednesday, Joe and I had the "day off," if you will, on Thursday.

In addition to going to three ballparks (including our first and last visit to Yankee Stadium) and to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, one of my motivations for this trip was to meet up with Patrick Sullivan in Boston; Alex Belth and Darren Viola (known as Repoz to readers of the Baseball Think Factory) in New York; and my longtime pal Dave O'Brien in Philadelphia (which remains the last leg of our trip this weekend). Seeing people has always been more important to me than seeing places and this cross-country adventure was no different.

I met Dave for a long lunch at Pershing Square on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. A former Athletic Director at Long Beach State, Temple, and Northeastern, Dave heads up the sports management program at Drexel University, teaches sports law, and is involved in a couple of other sports ventures as well. We caught up on old times and both of us are looking forward to a round of golf with our sons on Saturday afternoon at Dave's club in Philly.

Richard%20and%20Alex%20in%20Central%20Park.jpgA couple of hours later, I emerged from the canyons of Manhattan and walked to Radio City Hall to meet up with Alex . A lifelong resident of New York City, Alex was anxious to show me some landmarks in and around his old stomping grounds. On our way to Central Park for a game of catch, we passed Rockefeller Center at 30 Rock and Saks Fifth Avenue, next to St. Patrick's Cathedral, an old and glorious church. We walked back to 6th and up to the park where we stopped and tossed the ball around for about 15 minutes while softball games were going on all around us. We passed Tavern on the Green in the park as we exited onto Central Park West. We proceeded north on CPW to 72nd Street where Alex pointed out the Dakota, John Lennon's old and John Madden's current residence, and the filming location of "Rosemary's Baby." From there, we headed over to Broadway where Alex showed me the famous Ansonia Hotel, where Babe Ruth and John McGraw lived at one time. The hotel was featured in "The Sunshine Boys" and "Single White Female."

Up on 79th Street, Alex highlighted another lovely old apartment building, The Apthorp. We walked up Broadway, past the Beacon Theater (where Steely Dan is performing), and saw Fairway, Citarella and Zabars, the food emporiums on our left. Finally, we ate at a deli called Artie's where I enjoyed a pastrami sandwich and a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry while Alex plowed down a couple of hot dogs and a ginger ale. After dinner, we walked over to West End Avenue and then one block further west to Riverside Drive, where we stopped and chatted at the edge of Riverside Park with the lights from New Jersey across the river shining through the green leaves on the countless number of trees that line the park.

Alex hailed down a cab for me and asked the driver to take me by Lincoln Center on my way back to the New York Helmsley. We also passed the New York Library, the theatre district, Times Square, and I caught a glimpse of the Empire State Building in all of its green glory at night. Not bad for twenty bucks.

Tonight promises to be another special night on our nine-day trip to the northeast. Alex, Repoz, Joe and I are going to the Reds-Mets game at Shea Stadium. Alex is planning on meeting us outside our hotel around 5:45 p.m. (that's Eastern Time) and the three of us are going to take a short stroll to Grand Central where we will hook up with Repoz, rain or shine, on the platform for the 7 train at 6 p.m.

Keep your fingers crossed for us as the weather forecast calls for showers with temperatures ranging from 47 to 56 degrees. Joe and I want to extend our streak of great weather for a few more days. But there's a reason why I brought my rain coat. It just may be the day to finally bring it out of the ol' garment bag.