06 June 2008

The Road to Cooperstown

The 113th Annual Meeting of the NYSOA

It was from 1985 to 1989 that I attended the SUNY State College of Optometry. I can still remember driving I-95 from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland as I still often do. When approaching the city limits of Baltimore, I would see the Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Montgomery Ward Building, and the large Billboard of Cal Ripken, Jr. The Billboard would announce the number of games remaining to Cooperstown. It referred to the number of games left for Cal to surpass legendary New York Yankee Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record of 2130 games. I was fortunate to attend that game on September 6, 1995. After the Washington Senators left for Texas in 1972 I had become a Baltimore Oriole fan, although basketball still remains my true love. As a student at Georgetown University, I always admired the Yankees but was never a fan of the team. After attending many NY Mets & Yankee games during my SUNY Optometry days, I became the NY Yankee fan that I am today. I am still amazed that baseball has actually returned to Washington with the Washington Nationals and our beautiful new ballpark.

As Cal Ripken, Jr. approached the record, many people were very upset thinking that Lou Gehrig's record was one record that should not be broken. Indeed anyone who saw the classic movie, Pride of the Yankees, starring Gary Cooper can understand that sentiment. The Oscar winning movie is one of my favorites as the Iron Horse dies from the rare disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) that now bears his name. However, baseball was losing popularity from the player strikes, and Cal's pursuit of the record captured the attention of the nation. I still remember the great Joe DiMaggio attending the game to present to Cal Ripken, Jr.

As those who know me well know, I consider New York to be my second home. Although I am a Washingtonian, and have lived most of my life in the state of Maryland that I truly love, I also consider myself a New Yorker. This past weekend I fulfilled another dream of mine attending the NYSOA annual meeting in Cooperstown, New York. I flew to Albany and rented a car to drive the 90 minutes to Cooperstown. It was a wonderful trip. I stayed with the NYSOA group at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, a beautiful place for a meeting, right on Lake Otsego. Otesaga is an Iroquois term meaning " A Place for Meeting." As all Georgetown University alumni know Potomac, is an Algonquian term meaning "Meeting Place." After my friend Jan Dorman, Executive Director of the NYSOA, explained the history of Lake Otsego and the town of Cooperstown, I was interested to see that the Susquehanna River originates from Lake Otsego. Indeed the Susquehanna river originates from the southern end of Lake Otsego, zigzags through New York and Pennsylvania ending in Havre de Grace, Maryland the home and birthplace of Cal Ripken, Jr. Lake Otsego was also known to James Fenimore Cooper as the Glimmerglass, being a principal feature in many of his novels including the Last of the Mohicans.

I had a wonderful time a the NYSOA convention meeting many new friends, and being able to spend time with many of my long time friends like Jan Dorman, and fellow optometrists Andy Sacco, Denise Whittam, Tom Landry, Mitch Horowitz, and Fran Reinstein. Before I left the convention, I received a big surprise. The NYSOA had voted to offer me an honorary membership. Apparently it was the first honorary membership given in 35 years by the NYSOA since Mort Kimmelman. It was truly one of the great honors in my professional career to be part of the New York State Optometric Association, and something I will always treasure. Marylanders always love New York. As I spent a long time in the baseball Hall of Fame seeing the plaques to many of my favorite players like Yankees Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Orioles like Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken, Jr. My favorite part was seeing the locker of Babe Ruth. George Herman Ruth is perhaps the most famous baseball player of all time who was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. As everyone knows he took the Road to Cooperstown through Boston to become a Hall of Fame player for the New York Yankees. That night in 1995 Cal Ripken, Jr. also completed his road to Cooperstown. Again, thanks again to my friends from NYSOA for a very memorable weekend and a great honor.

Thomas A. Wong, O.D.
President Maryland Optometric Association
Proud Honorary Member of the New York State Optometric Association


At July 1, 2008 at 11:06 AM , Blogger Paul T Heeg said...

Thanks for sharing you experience! It was a great weekend.

The NYSOA is lucky to have a great friend of optometry in Maryland! Have a great summer Dr. Wong!

At July 7, 2008 at 10:01 AM , Blogger Thomas A. Wong, O.D. said...

Thanks Paul. I look forward to working with you in the future.


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