When most first-time travelers sign-up to take a baseball tour they do it because they want to see the different stadiums around country and do not want to have to worry about driving, traffic, parking, hotels, etc. Although it’s great to see the county, many of its cities, and ballparks, it’s the people who make these tours so memorable.
As usual, all of our over 100 customers on both trips last year were first-rate and made for two fabulous tours. Dick Geier, his wife Rosalie Geier, and sister Diane Smith joined us on our East Coast trip from Lincoln, Nebraska.
Whenever someone new signs up for a trip, I really don’t know anything about them other than what is on the trip registration form, such as where they are from. One of the first things we do when the trip begins and I have welcomed everyone and gone into a bit of detail with respect to the tour is for people to give a quick introduction as we pass around the cordless microphone on the coach. They can share where they are from and some baseball related items and it serves as a good ice-breaker and conversation starter for some people.
Although I don’t remember what Dick had to say on that initial day, I do remember speaking with his sister a few days later and talking about the tour when she mentioned that her brother was a great lefty “back in the day” and had been inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2013.
It turns out he pitched for the University of Nebraska from 1953-1956 and pitched for “several” semi-pro teams during those years in the summer. That is when Dick said he was able to pick up enough ‘expense’ money to last for the next school year.
As Diane had told me on our tour, the career highlight pitching for the Cornhuskers at Nebraska of her brother was a game against Kansas. Dick faced 27 batters that game. He didn’t give up a hit and didn’t walk anybody, although it wasn’t a perfect game.
One of the Jayhawks batters struck out swinging, yet reached first base on a throwing error from the catcher. However, the next batter popped up a bunt attempt and the catcher not only caught it but doubled the runner on first as well. Twenty seven batters up, twenty seven batters down, but no perfect game.
The clean-up hitter for Kansas that day was Bob Allison, who was later named the 1959 American League Rookie of the Year and was a three-time All Star selection. Allison started his career with the Washington Senators and moved with the franchise when they became the Minnesota Twins in 1961. He finished his career in 1970 with 256 career home runs. Geier can’t remember if Allison was one of his 10 strikeout victims on the day.
Geier probably never would have shared that story if it hadn’t been for his sister. As proof of his humility he spent more time talking about his next outing after the 27 batter performance than he did in the most impressive performance against Kansas when he led the ‘Huskers to a 1-0 victory over the Jayhawks.
He stated, “My next outing after the 27 batter game was out of the bullpen at Oklahoma. We were neck and neck in the Big 7 at the time. They had bases loaded in the last of the ninth. Coach called me in, I think there were one or two outs. I walked in the winning run.”
When I asked him about the Hall of Fame, he said, “The name ‘Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame’ is a little misleading. It represent the numerous semi-pro teams and leagues and players going back for generations.”
These days Geier doesn’t necessarily have a favorite team but is rather a big fan of baseball and enjoys “the individual games going on between players within a game as it unfolds. Each position with its particular responsibilities as situations develops and the quick reactions the mental part conrols which can mean a win or loss.”
While getting to know people like this on a tour is a blessing, it’s nice to hear customers like Geier say, “For me, a baseball trip like Bob’s was the ideal experience. The feeling of being in major league ballparks, the sights and sounds, the fans, and of course the food, is priceless. Especially with every other detail of a two week trip on a bus with a bunch of new friends perfectly arranged. As Yogi says – ‘don’t miss it if you can!'”
Little does he know, but my getting to know people like that make my trip experiences priceless, too.