Two lifetime experiences in one day

From the press box by Bruce Stambaugh
The view I had from the press box at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I had looked forward to this day for a long, long time.

A reporter friend of mine asked me if I wanted to accompany him to a Cleveland Indians game with seats in the press box. Big kid that I am, it was a lifetime dream of mine to do so.

For years I had wondered what it would be like to sit in the press box to watch a baseball game. Last week, my dream came true with an unexpected bonus.

To get me through the press gate, my reporter friend, who will remain nameless for professional reasons, listed me as his photographer. Good thing I had taken my camera along.

My excitement settled soon after attaching the yellow press tag to my belt loop. Our planned first stop on my behind-the-scenes tour of Progressive Field was the playing field to watch batting practice and mingle with the players and coaches. But this game was the day game of a day-night double-header. There was no batting practice.

Progressive Field by Bruce Stambaugh
My regular seat at Progressive Field is just above my left shoulder, seven rows back.

Since I was actually standing on the playing field I wasn’t all that disappointed. My friend took my picture in front of the Indians dugout and by the Indians on deck circle, which is directly in front of where I usually sit as a fan.

We headed into the Indians dugout. I sat in the shade on the bench a few feet from some player who had completely shaved his head. It was Justin Masterson, the starting pitcher for the Indians.

Soon we made our way down the tunnel and up the ramp to the players’ clubhouse. We rubbed shoulders with several players, but passed them without speaking according to media-player etiquette. All in all, I found the locker room to be much less luxurious than I had envisioned.

I had a similar reaction when we entered the media dining room. It was spacious, but reminded me of a college cafeteria, only with a nice view. We signed in and paid for the buffet. Thoughts of the media being coddled began evaporating. Once I tasted the food, the memories of college continued.

Across the hall was the press box, curving left and right high above and behind home plate. Here, too, I was surprised. Instead of plush, I saw plain. The press box was more functional than cushy. There was plenty of room to work, but it really wasn’t the best view from the third row where we were assigned to sit.

Reporters at work by Bruce Stambaugh
Reporters hard at it in the Progressive Field press box.

It was unexpectedly quiet, too. With deadlines to meet, the reporters simply minded their own business and watched the game.

The game moved right along until 1:51 p.m. when the press box itself began to move. I felt an obvious swaying east to west. I asked my friend if he felt it. Indeed he did.

Other reporters swiveled their heads with astonished looks on their faces. The press box rocked and rolled for 30 seconds, stopped briefly, then began again, only not as severely nor as long.

Someone checked on the Internet and said that the Pentagon was being evacuated because of an earthquake centered in Virginia. Here I was in my first and probably only major league press box and I had also experienced my first earthquake.

I had always wondered what a quake felt like. Now I knew. I felt both nauseated and exhilarated.

With those lifetime experiences realized together, I happily took my usual seat at the next Indians game I attended.

Batter up by Bruce Stambaugh
The view from my regular seat at Progressive Field is much improved over the press box.

Reactions to earthquake many and varied

Amish farm Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Life in Holmes County, Ohio went back to normal right after the earthquake on August 23.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The reactions to the reverberations of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt in the Holmes County, Ohio area on August 23 varied according to individual circumstances. The quake was centered near Mineral, Va., but was felt more than 400 miles away.

Many in the area thought they were experiencing a sudden illness. Some weren’t sure what to think. A few knew that the shaking shortly before 2 p.m. was an earthquake. Others, especially those in vehicles, felt nothing at all.

It didn’t take people long to realize that the shaking was much more than something they felt personally. Some figured it out on their own, while others tuned to TV news, received text messages or saw it posted on social media.

Tim Roth, of Millersburg, said he was sitting in his recliner watching the Cleveland Indians baseball game when he felt the chair shake and the house creak. He wasn’t sure what was happening at first.

The press box at Progressive Field in Cleveland swayed east and west for 30 seconds, stopped briefly, and then shook again, but not as long or as hard. Fans in the upper deck sensed the shaking, too, but were reassured by ushers. The baseball game between the Indians and the Seattle Mariners continued uninterrupted.

Greta Monter, of rural Millersburg, was lying on her couch and suddenly felt her heart race. A registered nurse, she at first thought she was having a medical health issue, but then realized it was more than just her heart.

Lora Stackpole Erclauz, of Lakeville, said she felt just a slight shaking. She said at first she thought it was vertigo, called her husband and he had felt it, too.

Rita Baughman-Dawson said she thought a train had wrecked and fell off of the tracks. She said it was a very eerie feeling.

Mike Pacula, the band director at West Holmes Middle School, said he was at his desk in his office and noticed his chair rocking and his computer monitor wobbling.

Karen Reitz Miller was in her home in Millersburg when the windows began to rattle a little and the house creaked. She said it sounded like someone was on her roof. She turned on the TV and learned of the earthquake.

Joe Heatwole, who lives in Dalton, was on the second floor of Valley View Oak near Mt. Hope when he felt the floor begin to shake. Another employee yelled that his computer monitor was shaking and the floor was moving. Heatwole said it was an exhilarating feeling to experience an earthquake for the first time.

Arlene Yoder, a nurse from Baltic, was at the doctor’s office where she works in Dover. Yoder said their patients were relieved to know that the medical staff also felt the floor shake, too.

Dana Ely-Keiffer reported that it felt like someone was shaking the recliner she was in at the Smith Ambulance office in New Philadelphia.

“I accused my partner of it until I realized he was on the other side of the room,” she said. “He was thinking I was shaking him.”

The Commercial and Savings Bank four-story building in Millersburg was evacuated as a precaution. Employees and customers were allowed back in after a brief wait outside.

Across the street at the Holmes County Education Foundation, Anna Patton reported that the window blinds moved back and forth.

Some buildings in Columbus were also evacuated as a precaution.

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office reported receiving a few calls from around the county about the trembler. No damage was reported.

A practical way to give thanks

By Bruce Stambaugh

It was only appropriate that for a full week after the first snow of the year that we experienced a perfect Indian summer here in Ohio.

The extended summer-like days, which seemed to actually improve chronologically until the rains came, served as a picturesque bridge between a superb fall and an inexplicit winter yet to come.

We can only wonder what winter will be like. Will it be as harsh and record breaking as the last? We hope not. Clearly we have no say in the matter.

Snowfall in Ohio's Amish country by Bruce Stambaugh
Snowfall in Ohio's Amish country totaled three feet in February 2010.

Every fall the National Weather Service issues a long-term guesstimation of what winter will bring. But even the scientists hedge their prognostications on percentages, casino like.

In the end, we have no choice but to take what we get. Hushed by the holiday clamor, a certain question lingers unspoken. Will we appreciate what we receive? In truth, that question can and should be applied far beyond the realm of weather.

I remember well the winter of 2004-2005 when the infamous ice storm nailed our area. The accumulating ice snapped giant trees, brought down power lines, halted commerce, interrupted communications, and thinned traffic to emergency purposes only for days.

Those of us who were on the electrical grid were hit hard. Fortunately, an Amish friend saved my family and me with the use of a generator to at least keep the gas hot water heat on. Without the generator’s assistance, the pipes in our home would have frozen and burst, causing extensive damage. Thankfully that did not happen, due to the unconditional generosity of my friend.

All the while, with our communication to the outside world cut, thousands upon thousands of people were caught in the wake of a horrific earthquake and subsequent tidal waves that killed scores of people.

In sorting through an overflowing basket of mishmash the other day, I came upon some handwritten notes I had made about the catastrophe. Apparently, I did so while listening to a battery-operated radio. In reviewing my scribbling, I was reminded that the inconvenience of living without electricity for five days paled in comparison to the plight of millions of fellow human beings halfway around the world.

A sampling of my jottings, dated Dec. 26, 2004, relived the calamity: Banda Ache, 60-foot wave, two miles inland, 30 mph, eight-12 feet deep flood; deaths, 200,000 in Indonesia alone, 400,000 injured; no system to alert people in Indian Ocean rim; 9.3 magnitude earthquake, the world’s deadliest tsunami. Unfortunately, those initial notations proved accurate.

Once power was restored the horrible scenes unfolded on television. I was appalled for the victims, thankful for my family that we had only lost power and a few trees in the yard. Compared to the widespread wreckage and unbelievable totals of death and injuries of so many innocents, we had been fortunate.

Tracks in the snow by Bruce Stambaugh
Horses made serpentine tracks in the heavy snow last Feb. in Holmes County.

Since then, infinite natural and man-made disasters, including the sluggish global economy, have occurred. Others will likely continue to develop as time progresses. Nevertheless, as we begin this holiday season in North America, we still have so much for which we can be thankful no matter our personal situation.

This Thanksgiving perhaps we can express our gratitude by simply helping the less fortunate. We may not have to look clear to the Indian Ocean rim for those opportunities either.

Maybe, just maybe, a proactive generosity can be an Indian summer bridge to brighten someone else’s rainy day life. That would be a practical, productive and prudent Thanksgiving.