Tag Archives: Cleveland

The Yard Dog Award – Lodging Fit for a King

29 Mar

A while back, I introduced the concept of the Yard Dog Award. Later, I presented the award to the first “winner.” During the past few days of recharging my blogging batteries, the next winner came to my mind.

In the mid-1990s, I was coaching a professional men’s softball team. That, in and of itself, is another story that I have touched on and will write about in the near future. However, this post is about a place where that experience led me.

We were scheduled to play in an important tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. All of the arrangements were set weeks in advance. Flights. Rental cars. Hotel rooms. We were good to go. All was smooth as we flew into the city and got our cars. Then, the plan went awry.

We drove to the softball complex to meet the tournament director who had handled our lodging. He booked rooms for us in a nice hotel, but we needed to meet with him before settling in. We pulled up to his office. Larry, the other coach who you have read about, and I went in to get everything taken care of. That is when the weekend went off the rails.

At the last minute, the nation’s top ranked team decided to play in the tournament. The director gave our rooms to them and booked us into another hotel. I was to ride with him to the new hotel while everyone else waited. We got into his car and drove and drove and drove. I noticed that the buildings we passed were getting dingier by the block. A bad feeling was emerging from the back of my brain.

Then, we arrived at the Camelot Inn, and it was a disaster. In the parking lot sat a couple of cars on blocks. The lobby was locked tight, and we could only talk to the desk clerk through bullet-proof glass. The top ranked team was staying in our rooms at a nice hotel while we stayed in a dump. Heck, we were ranked in the Top 10. It was not like we were some church league team.

I knew we did not have a choice, and I took the rooms. We drove back to the fields where everyone else waited on us. We had been gone a long time, and they were beginning to think that something bad had happened to me. They did not know the half of it. Something bad was going to happen to all of us. We were going to stay at the Camelot Inn.Camelot Inn

I tried to soften the blow, but the sight of the hotel shocked them. The neighborhood. The cars on blocks. Everything was bad. We climbed the stairs to the second floor and realized that the balcony was leaning. It was basically pulling away from its moorings and could collapse at any moment. It would have been nice if we could have moved to rooms on the bottom floor, but they were filled with people living in them.

I have stayed in some bad hotels, but this was the worst. As usual, Larry and I roomed together, but this was an unusual weekend. He refused to walk on the carpet barefooted and put his shoes on each time he got out of bed.

I like to think that I have a decent sized vocabulary, but I do not have the words to describe how bad the Camelot Inn truly was. However, that was not the only bad part of the weekend.

We easily won the first game, which put us on schedule to play the top ranked team. That would be the same team that was staying in our rooms. It was one of the worst beatings we had ever taken. They hit home run after home run. We could hear limbs breaking off trees as balls flew over the fence and threw them. One ball hit the scoreboard and scared birds that were nesting in it.

As they plated run after run, the score was getting embarrassing. Larry goes into some kind of trance and starts staring into the distance. To no one in particular, he says, “Boys, this is about to get ugly.” The high school girl who was operating the scoreboard replied, “Sir, I hate to tell you this, but it’s already ugly.”

After that beating, the rain started, and it did not let up. That meant we were stuck at the Camelot Inn with no games to play. That is when Bucky and Richie, our two best players had to take one of the young guys to buy some toothpaste. He had forgotten to pack some and needed a certain brand.

A while later, there was a knock at our door. We opened it, and Bucky was standing in the doorway. He was drenched and had a shocked look on his face.

“Bucky, what’s wrong?”

“We just got hit in the ass.”

“We know this is a bad neighborhood, but how did you let somebody do that to you?”

“I mean we got rear ended at a red light.”

They were sitting at a red light when a car barreled into them from behind. The front seats broke, and they were flat on their backs while rolling through the intersection. The one stuck in the back seat kept saying, “Damn boys!” Over and over, he kept saying it.

At some point, this horrible weekend came to an end. For starting this weekend in a disastrous fashion and putting us in the Camelot Inn, the Yard Dog Award goes to the tournament director whose name I have forgotten. However, I have not forgotten what he did to us.