Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Baseball Trip

Back in late 1991, during my sophomore year of college, I heard a story about a couple baseball fans who went on a trip to see baseball games played in every MLB ballpark. I was fascinated. What an amazing trip that sounded like! It truly was the thing of dreams for a lifelong baseball fanatic such as myself.

Over Christmas break, my friend (and fellow baseball fanatic) Eric and I were discussing how cool it would be to go on a similar trip. The two of us realized that neither of us had the time or the money for such a grand adventure, but perhaps we could do something similar on a smaller scale. We quickly came to the conclusion that we absolutely had to try to do something like it, and we had to do it that summer! We found a window of two weeks in mid-June that would work for both of us between the end of Eric's semester at Northwestern University and the start of some summer classes that he was going to take.

When it came to planning for such a trip, it was a little more complicated than you might think. It's great to want to visit certain ballparks, but it's not quite so simple as picking the parks and plotting out the course. Teams have to be playing games in the cities on the right dates. We couldn't chris-cross, for instance from Milwaukee to New York to Detroit to Baltimore.

We made a list of the ballparks we most wanted to visit, and then tried to piece together a plan that would allow us to see the greatest number of them possible. I remember coming up with many variations of plans incorporating certain parks and leaving others out, then switching them around. It was kind of like working a jigsaw puzzle, and in those pre-internet days, I was dependent upon the league-wide schedule printed in my trusty Street & Smith's Baseball annual.

The older, historic ballparks were most important to us. This meant Fenway was a must. Tiger Stadium was also high on our list. I had been to the Chicago ballparks with Eric while visiting him there, so we felt no need to include them in our trip. Skydome in Toronto was the big new thing with its revolutionary retractable dome, and built in retro fashion, we wanted to see Baltimore's brand new Oriole Park at Camden Yards in its first season.

Our one regret: Yankee Stadium was impossible to fit in. After a home game June 10th, the Yankees departed on a 14-game road trip. The only way to squeeze them in would be to drive directly to New York and essentially start the trip there. This would simply cause too much havoc to the rest of the schedule. Sadly, Yankee Stadium would be a casualty of scheduling.

In addition to working out the schedule, we had to work out lodging. We didn't have money to pay for hotels, so we'd need to get creative. More about those details in the days to come.

I look forward to remembering and retelling the tale of that trip a quarter-century years ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long, but exactly 25 years ago today, I was preparing to head out on an adventure that will forever be etched in my mind as an amazing experience. I hope you enjoy following along with me in the next couple weeks.

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