Friday, August 22, 2014

Principal Park and Remembering My Dad

The Principal Park scoreboard and bleachers in Des Moines in 2014. Note the hand-operated scoreboard above the wall. (G21D Photo)
My wife and I visited Principal Park in Des Moines earlier this month.

It wasn't a planned trip, at least it wasn't for her. It was planned on my end. The week I had planned was with my father. He had moved to Des Moines after my mother's passing a couple years ago.

Dad and I were supposed to go to the state fair. And we were supposed to go to an Iowa Cubs game. Mainly, we were just supposed to spend a few days together.

As it turned out, we only got to spend a few hours together. When I arrived in town, he was sick, sick enough to go to the hospital.

We spent a few hours in the emergency room talking about random things as they assessed him. I mentioned my trip out, which included two interviews for this project. He was confident that whatever I did, it would be good.
Iowa Cubs runner Jorge Soler crosses home as Mike Olt trails behind at Principal Park in Des Moines in August 2014. It was a two-run home run for Olt. (G21D Photo)
With him seemingly stabilized, I left for the night. He didn't make it until the morning. He passed away suddenly in the early hours. My wife made it to town by that evening.

My dad figures into a lot of my early baseball experiences. We went on a family trip to Chicago in 1988 for my first major league baseball game. Somehow, he called the right people and managed to get the 9-year-old me to meet my favorite player Andre Dawson.

It was one of my dad's favorite stories. According to him, my eyes got unusually big realizing what was happening. It was a surprise.

A few years later, in 1994 and 1995, Dad and I regularly went to Cedar Rapids Kernels games. It was a long trip, about 30 miles one-way. But we went. We saw a no-hitter that year. We also saw the Kernels win the league championship. I also go a whole bunch of autographs of players that were sure to be Hall of Famers.
The Iowa Cubs dugout. (G21D Photo)
So, on this trip, were were supposed to see another game. But it didn't happen.

After the initial shock and doing the things that had to be done, there was a day later in the week dedicated to taking care of his things. But there was also a matter of that Cubs game, and the previously scheduled interview with the Iowa Cubs pitching coach Bruce Walton.

The question was, should I do either? Did I even have time? I thought back to our times going to games. I also thought back to the confidence he had in what I was doing. My conclusion was that yes, I should. He wouldn't want me to do any different.

So, with the help of my wife (she's great) I carved out some time for the interview. We also got to the game, together. We were a little late, but we got there. (The Bruce Walton interview)

These are some extra pictures I took at the game that I didn't use in the Walton interview. There's a picture from practice earlier of players with their own version of that night's give-away. That night's give-away was a Kris Bryant shirt. Everyone was Kris Bryant.

The park itself was a nice one, with a cool view of the state capitol building. There were also some touches that brought in a little Wrigley, like a hand-operated scoreboard and bleachers.

Principal Park in Des Moines in August 2014. (G21D Photo)
There was also the sky. As the sun prepared to set, there was a layer of clouds. But the clouds had an opening. Someone more poetic than I might suggest something by that. I just remembered my dad. 

Other photos from Principal Park:
Iowa Cubs players wear Kris Bryant shirts during practice before Kris Bryant shirt give-away night at Principal Park in Des Moines. (G21D Photo)

Leading off first base at Principal Park in Des Moines with the Iowa State Capitol in the background. (G21D Photo)
The Las Vegas bullpen at Principal Park. (G21D Photo)

The Raccoon River, near the Des Moines River, from Principal Park. (G21D Photo)
The outfield wall at Principal Park. (G21D Photo)
A late intentional walk to Kris Bryant at Principal Park. (G21D Photo)
The Iowa State Capitol building at night, from the ballpark. (G21D Photo)

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