9.07.2009

Found gems

Every family goes on at least one vacation in their lifetime when they all pile into a car, drive for days at a time to get to a campsite or motor lodge, and on the way stop at the World's Second Largest Ball of Yarn, or some such nonsense. For me, that was the summer of 1977, when my family rented a motor home and took a three-week vacation to the Western U.S.

Starting from Cleveland, there isn't much until you hit the Mississippi River, and even then it is few and far between. Wall Drug. The Corn Palace. Places like that. Iowa is much the same with a lot of corn and open sky rolling by you on the highway.

One place my dad wanted to stop was there, in Iowa, at the hometown of his boyhood hero, Bob Feller. Van Meter, Iowa, near Des Moines. That was my dad's Field of Dreams.

I don't remember if we stopped there or not, and I doubt my father would remember anymore. However, we did stop in Amana. I distinctly remember stopping there, the Amish people, the factories. And Bill Zuber.

Bill Zuber will forever be linked with Bob Feller, not only because they were Iowa farmboys, but they both were pitchers and both broke into the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1936. However, that is where the similarities end.

Feller, as everyone knows, turned out to be a Hall-of-Famer, pitched three no-hitters, twelve one-hitters, won 20 games six times and finished his career with 266 wins, 2581 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA, all while giving up almost four full seasons in the service of his country. (For his service, he received five campaign ribbons with eight battle stars.) He pitched for the Indians until the end of his career in 1956.

Zuber did not serve in the military during WWII, and had an average career, going 43-42 with a 4.28 ERA for the Indians, Senators, Yankees and Red Sox.

However, on this particular day in this particular part of Iowa, we stopped at Bill Zuber's real legacy: Bill Zuber's Dugout, a restaurant in Homestead, Iowa. I don't remember much about it, and I can't say for sure whether I met the man himself, but I did find, amidst my parent's slides and pictures, this postcard with a facsimile autograph and Joe McCarthy's Ten Commandments of Baseball on the back.



That was a good enough reason for a young baseball fan to stop somewhere in Iowa.

3 comments:

BASEBALL DAD said...

That's a great memory. Andy graduates in May and we are planning a trip out that way.I found this on google after reading your post,maybe you've already seen it : http://www.zubershomesteadhotel.com/. I may have to see about staying there.

BASEBALL DAD said...

Did you get your Twins and Thome cards?

MattR said...

cool :)