An Unforgettable Birthday at the Museum

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

Donald Bentzel had no idea what to expect when the limo arrived at his home Thursday morning. All he knew was that it was his 60th birthday, and the boys had planned a trip.

“I had no idea. I thought we were on our way to an old-folks home to dump me off,” Bentzel said, laughing.

4-2-09-Carr_Bentzels.jpgInstead, Troy, Tim and Brian had planned him a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Donald’s wife, Roxanne, began to drop hints about one hour into the trip from Ephrata, Pa., and four hours later, they arrived in Cooperstown.

“How many years have we waited to come here?” Roxanne asked her husband.

“I can’t believe I’m here,” Bentzel said.

The entire family is either active in or retired from the U.S. Army and Air Force. Tim was able to take leave and join his parents on the trip, but Troy and Brian are stationed in Alabama and Georgia and were unable to make the trip.

Bentzel coached Midget League baseball for nine years in the ’80s, and Roxanne describes him as a true sports fanatic.

“I have always wanted to come,” said Bentzel, proudly wearing his Phillies shirt.

And he can’t wait to see the Autumn Glory exhibit featuring the Phillies’ World Series artifacts. He loved every minute of the championship run last October, and he and the boys ran up their cell-phone bills calling back and forth.

Donald had expected Cooperstown to just be a big tourist attraction. But once he got here, he realized it is much more than that.

“It’s baseball. It takes me back to the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s when baseball was every kid’s fantasy. It’s the atmosphere. I can hear the called third-strike, the sound of the bat hitting a ball, and Cy Young is walking beside me, and I’m telling him how to hold his fastball.”

With the Hall of Famers as guests, this will be a birthday party that Bentzel and his family won’t soon forget.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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