Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
JOINING ME ON THE QUEST
By Mike McCann
One of the more difficult tasks as part of my quest to visit every major and minor league baseball stadium is finding people to travel with. There really aren't many people who are willing spend hours in the car travelling to a baseball stadium, only to then sit through a baseball game, and spend a few more hours driving home. I will relay a few of my stories with the hopes of inspiring you to do a little more travelling to see baseball games. Or at the very least, you will visit your local ballpark more often.
My first real minor league baseball road trip was in 1994. My friend, Morry, and I decided that we needed to do something following our high school graduation. We are both really big baseball fans. Morry is a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan, so when the Pirates played the Phillies at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, we would try to go to the game. We decided that it would be fun to go on a road trip to mark the completion of that part of our life. We had a friend who lived in Charlotte, NC, and we thought it would be a good idea to visit her and see a few baseball games on the way back.
We decided that it made sense to stay in Charlotte for a couple days, and then see three games over the weekend on our way back. We took a look at schedules of teams situated between Philadelphia and Charlotte to see which games we could see. We chose a Class A Carolina League game in Winston-Salem, NC, then a Class AA Southern League in Zebulon, NC (home of the Carolina Mudcats), and a Class AAA International League game in Richmond, VA. We thought it would be a good mix of baseball, and the stadiums moved us progressively closer to home. It was definitely a fun trip, especially since I was able to collect a few baseballs during batting practice of these games.
My friend, Dave, will also go on ballpark trips with me. His general rule is that he would like to see a major league stadium as part of the trip. I usually don't have much trouble obliging his request. In 1996, we went to 5 stadiums in 6 days that included a game at Skydome in Toronto. This past year, he and I went to 4 games in 4 days, including Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Comerica Park in Detroit and PNC Park in Pittsburgh (I continued the trip alone with a game in Altoona and the inaugural game in Brooklyn). We make an effort to make the trip as a long weekend to minimize the amount of time we have to take off from work
That reminds me of another good reason to see baseball games in new locations...business travel. I know that not everyone has the option of travelling as part of their occupation. But I have the opportunity to occasionally be sent somewhere else in the country. I was able to see a few Texas Rangers games this way. After working all day, I enjoy spending the night at a baseball game. Last time I was in the Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex area, I was able to extend my trip a few days so I could a few more stadiums. I was able to take in games in Shreveport, LA and Round Rock, TX.
I'm not saying that you should exploit your friends, and use them so you can go to a few baseball games. But if you happen to be travelling or visiting someone, a baseball game is definitely a fun activity. For instance, you can spend the day sightseeing, and go to a game that night. Personally, my vacation is usually a trip to some new ballparks. But I manage to do other things during my trip. I just think that it makes sense to do as much as possible, especially when you are visiting a place you don't see that often.
It also helps to know people who live in other parts of the country. My friend, Matt, lives near Reno, NV. I wanted to go out and visit him and see the area since I had never been there before. Matt is also a baseball fan and appeased my interests by seeing a few games with me. We saw the stadiums in Sacramento and Oakland while I was there. But I also managed to see other interesting things.
Another good person to attend baseball games with is your significant other. I would think that they would have a lot of common with you, and even if one of those items isn't the love of baseball, hopefully they will enjoy your company enough to sit with you for a few hours at a baseball game without being totally bored. My girlfriend, Abby, definitely fits into the latter category. But because of her, I was able to see three new stadiums this past season. I am also hoping to see a few games with her in Virginia and North Carolina this year.
There is no way that I would have been able to see 50 stadiums at this point
if I weren't willing to see a few games alone. Personally, I think
that seeing a baseball game live is extremely fun. If there is a night
when I don't have anything to do, I'll often drive to Wilmington, DE and
see a Blue Rocks game. Or if it is the weekend, and I have a little
more time, I will drive a little further and see a different stadium. If
I sat around waiting for someone to see games with, I wouldn't see many games.
I just think it is more fun to see a baseball game in person than spending
a night sitting around at home watching television, playing on the computer
or something similar.
I'm sorry that I've been preaching about how great it is to travel just to
see baseball games. But it's something that interests me, and I would
hope that if you are reading this, it would at least mildly interest you
as well. I think that next time I'll write about the fun in planning
baseball trips since it is almost at the time of year. (I know that
I said I would write about the new baseball stadiums this month, but I decided
to take this route instead).
I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an email and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.