Monday, August 24, 2009

Bob Feller Museum

All photos of Bob Feller Museum and Iowa State Fair available on Flickr.

With Lauren out of town and nothing to do, I decided to drive down to visit my buddy Karl and see what Des Moines has to offer. Upon hearing this, Erik sniffed an opportunity. What was originally to be an afternoon excursion quickly turned into a 4-day Iowa barnstorming tour, and with Erik leaving for Virginia to work on another campaign this week, the timing could not have been better. I met Erik at 4:30 on Friday in Quasqueton, about a half-hour east of Waterloo, for the last tour of the day at Cedar Rock, one of two Frank Lloyd Wright residences open for touring in Iowa. Afterwards, we grabbed some dinner and drinks back in Cedar Falls and got to bed early for our long Saturday.

We left for the Des Moines area around 9:30, and made a stop in Van Meter on the way to Karl's house. Van Meter is the birthplace of Indians Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller and is home to the Bob Feller Museum. It is a small charming building that resembles an old one-room schoolhouse and features a Bob Feller relief on one wall, and a giant baseball on the front lawn with a replica signature of Feller's. Van Meter is your quintessential rural Iowa town - a few gas stations and Victorian farmhouses (including the house across from the museum that was probably there when Feller was growing up), railroad tracks cutting across the center of town, and corn as far as the eye can see. After a few exterior photos, we gave our $5 admission to the lady at the front desk, whom I later found out taught kindergarden in Van Meter for over 30 years. The museum would have been disappointing for a big-city museum, but for a small town like Van Meter, it was just right. It was very quaint and featured mostly photos and framed letters from Feller's playing days, as well as a few game-worn uniforms and artifacts. There were autographed baseballs and photos on display from every major leaguer that stopped by the museum and a little piece of tin in the shape of a baseball for each of his 266 wins scattered throughout the building. The coolest part by far was the last bat ever held by Babe Ruth. Everybody knows that famous picture of a very ill Ruth leaning on a bat in his familiar #3 Yankees uniform on the day it was retired in 1948. What many people don't know is the Yankees were playing the Indians that day, and as the Babe emerged onto the field, he grabbed a bat at random from the Indians' batboy, and it just so happened to be Bob Feller's. That bat was later autographed by Ruth, and he died two months later. After falling into the hands of several owners, it eventually found its way back to Bob Feller and his museum to the tune of $96,000. You can still faintly make out Ruth's distinctive signature on the barrel, as well as Feller's autograph. The museum only takes about 20 minutes to go through, even at Erik's slow museum pace. It is well worth the time and admission price for any baseball fans driving through central Iowa.

After the museum, we finished the drive to suburban Des Moines. We spent the day with my friend Karl and his family at the Iowa State Fair, featuring most notably giant buckets of cookies, a 3500-lb bull, and a full-scale cow made out of butter. It was the 3rd State Fair Erik and I have been too, and it's interesting to note the pros and cons of each. We had a great day being unhealthy and taking in a huge slice of Americana.

Brewers 61-63, -10.0 (3 v. Reds, 3 v. Pirates)
Reds 52-71, -18.5 (3 @ Brewers, 3 v. Dodgers)
Twins 62-63, -4.5 (3 v. Orioles, 3 v. Rangers)

Erik - 40 (+21 worked)
Peter - 52

No comments: