Days 186, 187, 188, 189 “Lost Days and Pictures…”

A Little League welcome!
A Little League welcome!

lamade

I think I lost a few days on this trip, seriously!  I blogged about day 185 yesterday, however today is Day 190 of this trip and I should be talking about today, tomorrow when it is Day 191, do you follow.  Anyway, I had a great day today, I only had to drive an hour to Williamsport from the Rest Area I made it to after I left New Jersey.

I am extremely tired however, it was a long day walking around the Little League complex, there was over 20,000 fans at the two games.  I took a lot of pictures and a couple of videos, I think I will post pictures and a video and call it a day.  I changed my schedule for tomorrow so I can stay another day in Williamsport.

I am also going to post a few videos.  Thanks for your understanding, the videos are pretty cool so take the time to watch both of them that are on the bottom of the page.

llpledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 184 “Rain Delay…”

bbpicToday has been very adventurous!  I drove five hours to Charleston, West Virginia, starting about an hour outside of Richmond, Virginia.  The game I had on the schedule was the West Virginia Power vs the Lakewood Blueclaws.  I needed this day to go right since this is the only day that I am scheduled to be in West Virginia this entire trip.  I needed to get a game in so I can hit all 48 continental states. When I arrived in Charleston, it was raining. I was paying attention most of the day and I was worried.  I drove up mountains in driving rain and it was nerve wracking, I got to Charleston about 3 p.m.. I looked at the forecast and realized it was getting worse. So, I made the decision to back track 100 miles to Princeton, WV, where the Princeton Rays were playing the Greeneville Astros. There was a 30% chance of rain according to my weather app. I cringed since I have to be in New Jersey tomorrow for a game; and now, that extends my drive time to almost ten hours.

Game started at 8:30 but I was happy!
Game started at 8:30 but I was happy!

The weather was terrible and driving down the mountains was scary with semi’s were flying by and I could barely see the car in front of me.  About 20 miles outside of Princeton the rain let up, I was relieved.  When I got to the Princeton baseball field, the storms clouds came in and it started raining! I felt like it was following me. I talked to the GM and he said it was “iffy” that the game was going to be played.  It was still early, so as it rained I checked on another minor league team which plays 12 miles down the road from Princeton. I had another option, the Bluefield Blue Jays were playing the Kingsport Mets. I checked Charleston and the game there was postponed. I spoke with a lady that worked for the Princeton team and she said that she talked to the Heads Grounds Keeper and he told her that he was leaning towards postponing since he didn’t have enough interns to take the tarp off the field. I was disappointed, the rain was letting up.  I decided to drive the 12 miles to Bluefield. I gave the lady my number and asked her to text me if anything changed.  As I drove to Bluefield, up yet another mountain, the rains came down harder. I drove around Bluefield and realized that my streak was going to end because the rain was steady and I didn’t see a break in the clouds. Then, I got a text letting me know the game in Princeton was going to be played. Thankfully, the Astros had too many postponements and couldn’t handle another.

Obviously, I was relieved and I drove back to Princeton.  They needed help taking the tarp off the field and asked a college team that was in attendance to help. And, I graciously volunteered!  Needless to say I am a bit tired, so this is all I am going to write today!

Day 112 “Out running the rain!”

I have a great story that I want to write about! I now have three! I am stockpiling them because I don’t have time to write them.  I want to profile my father. We attended a game last week in Eau Claire on his birthday, which was June 1st. Wow, it has already been a week!  I have one that I was going to do today after the games I attended in Mandan, North Dakota. But, a major storm was starting to hit the area when the last game ended and I needed to high tail it out of there.  I will write it up first thing tomorrow, it is about “Ole” of the Fargo-Morehead RedHawks and it is a fun one! Then I have another one that I got today in Mandan. I am going to profile a couple of the sportscasters that were working the games, but that story will have to wait a couple of days.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, mine was a busy one. I attended a bunch of baseball games (hard to believe).  I will be back in the Milwaukee area at the end of the week to attend a couple of Brewers games with friends and family, then I will be working my way to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.  Well that is all for now, I hope to have the “Ole” profile posted by tomorrow afternoon.

Day 105 “A Quick Note”

Well here I am again, running behind!  I went to a Green Bay Bullfrogs game tonight against the Kenosha Kingfish.  The Kingfish destroyed the Bullfrogs 11-0, wasn’t much of a game. But, I have to say the entertainment was good. The Public Address announcer got the crowd into it, and  kids were running everywhere. It felt like a “hokey” hometown game, I say that in a good way.

I met my buddy Roger Wilson at the game. This was the first time that I had gone to a game with someone since Florida.  I enjoyed the baseball conversation.  He is the one that contacts all the media outlets and baseball teams for me. He, also, has complied 24,000 plus games in an excel spreadsheet for me, which believe me, that was no small undertaking!  Anyway, I have to wrap this up, it is after 11 pm.  Thanks for checking in!

Atlanta Interview with Ron Gant

Ron Gant and me taking a selfie...
Ron Gant and me taking a selfie…

I didn’t think this story ran in the Atlanta area and it didn’t come up in any searches until yesterday. I post this because I am amazed that people like what I am doing, and that I got to meet Ron Gant, who was very nice. I have been impressed with the media that have taken an interest in the Baseball Buddha story.

Click, Atlanta Interview with Ron Gant, to view the video from the segment that appeared on Good Day Atlanta a few weeks ago. For all the non-baseball fans out there, Ron Gant played in the MLB for eight different teams over 15 years before becoming a sportscaster and host for Good Day Atlanta.

To find out more about Ron, click here. The blog post I did for that day was the popular Day 77 “Models…”.

Day 93 “The Grind”

I think I have hit the wall! Today was a tough day and it was the first day that I wanted to be home. I felt lonely wishing I had someone with me. I got down to Busch Stadium rather early, was hoping to find a Starbucks close by. I was kind of shocked that so many people were there three hours before game time. I didn’t find a Starbucks and was unable to work on my post for today. I have a good one too!  KC Super Fan Chris!  I will profile him soon. I just drove four hours, checked into a hotel and I need a shave!  I am missing my daughter who is home from college for the summer.  Sunday nights’ she and I would usually hang out, watch a movie and I felt like doing that.  So, I am a little down at the moment and have a case of the Sunday night “heebee jeebees”.  This will pass and I need to grind this out for a little bit.  I knew this would happen at some point, just surprised that it has taken this long.  Ball players hit the proverbial “wall” once in awhile during the season. The constant pressure and the travel wears you out. I can say that the constant travel has done me in. Since I am in a different place every day, ‘the grind’ can be very stressful.

Anyway, I met three really cool dudes today at the game. They are “crazy’ about the game of baseball and they dig deep into the history of the game.  I gave them my card in hopes they keep in contact. I am learning a lot about the history and I love it. I want to get a group of people I meet along the way to get together and discuss ‘history’ at some point.  I have a high school game tomorrow in a small town in Kentucky, which I’m looking forward to.

St. Louis versus Atlanta today was my 100th game since I started this journey! The Cardinals gave up two runs in the top of the ninth losing to the Braves, 6-5!  This is all I am posting. Please bare with me, I am struggling a little bit with writers block, also.

Day 88 “Baseball Entertainment Complex”

Yesterday was Day 88 in this journey, I bring it up for no particular reason. I was in Little Rock, Arkansas to watch the Arkansas Travelers take on the NW Arkansas Naturals.  I got into Little Rock the night before from Memphis, I spent a lot of time at a Starbucks the previous night and then yesterday since it was a 7 pm start. It rained on and off with the threat of rain all day.  I was hoping there wouldn’t be any weather delays and that the game didn’t go to extra innings. I had to be in Oklahoma City by 10 am for a radio interview and that was a 5 hour drive.  Well, the game went to extra innings with the Naturals finally put the Travelers away in the 12th and won 6-5!  The game ended about 11:15 pm and it started raining immediately after.  I drove towards Oklahoma City for 3 hours, found a rest area slept until 8 and made it to the interview by 10:10 am.  More about that tomorrow!

I have not been writing a lot lately, I feel I have been in a “funk”. I am still enjoying the trip and seeing all the places but I am a little disillusioned with a lot of the minor league venues.  I know that minor league baseball is a business and they need to make money to stay in business.  Most are using a formula of entertainment that “seems” to work for their community.  I alluded to some of this yesterday. The food seems to be the same everywhere, the constant entertainment between innings, etc.  I don’t know what I expected but I guess I wanted to see something different wherever I went. I have found it’s not necessarily the case.  I make no bones about it, I love nostalgia – give me the unique and the old stadiums.  I loved McKechnie Park in Bradenton (Pirates), Wrigley Field has a great energy and look, Bakersfield is a real treat, the Montgomery Biscuits utilized the old with new.  However, for the most part, a lot of these newer places are “cookie cutter” with the baseball entertainment complex in mind.

I have stuck to a schedule and have planned the trip out two to three weeks in advance. This is great to get media attention, I really enjoy it. Even though, the “exposure” has limited me. Part of what I want to do is to get to the smaller communities and get off the beaten path.  I want to go to a game every day, but I think come summer, I am going to leave weekends open without scheduled games. This way I can search the back roads, go to the community “Merchant” league games, take in a youth tournament, etc. When I had a conversation with Chris Dearing in South Carolina he told me about a “Black” league that is still played in the South. He felt it is great baseball that people don’t know about. I want to go to those games, search out those venues. I don’t know what I am looking for but I have gotten my fill of the “systematic” formula of baseball entertainment.  I understand why it works for the casual fan.

I am working my way back to Wisconsin and will be there by the end of the month. It will be nice to see my daughter and my family.  My plan from there is searching out great baseball cities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, talking with people who show up on Sunday afternoons to watch the Legion team. I hope these games still exist!

Feels great getting a ball!
Feels great getting a ball!

My final thought for the day, at the game last night I got a foul ball. There is something that excites me when this happens.  I have been trying to get one at all the different “leagues”, so far I have been successful.  The little kid comes out when I chase after and get one. I wasn’t the only one. I sat next to a guy and his friends who wanted one, also. He purchased his tickets so he in a good position to get one. I got the only one that came our way. Unfortunately, I fell through a gate and on to the field to get it. I showed him and his friends the ball then explained to them what I was doing. They loved it, like most people I tell.  I was hoping another ball would come our way so he could get one.  One didn’t, but when he went to the bathroom a ball was hit near there, I was hoping he was paying attention.  He was and out hustled his buddy to get it, and like all “kids”, he was excited to show it off when he got back. I was happy for him!  That is what I love about this game, it brings out the “kid” in all of us!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

Day 78 “Thank You Mary Louko!”

I am not going to write much today.  I went to a South Carolina versus Georgia college game last night in Athens, the game went by fast, under two hours.  I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I found out before Mary Louko passed away, I thought about her for most of the game.  My brother Chad called me and I told him, he was bummed, he said, “I always liked her”.  I saw a post by my sister Bridget on Facebook stating how saddened she was by Mary’s passing.  I texted my sister Debbie, she talked to Mary a few days before, Mary said, while smiling, “I could live years or die tomorrow”.  Mary was my Confirmation Sponsor, she had a great personality and I don’t ever recall her not smiling or laughing.  I wasn’t super close with Mary, but she had a large impact on my life.  I remember nights when I would be walking home,  I would see her out in her yard pulling night crawlers she used to sell.  She always took time to talk to me, she also intrigued me by how fast she was at grabbing those things.

When I decided to get confirmed, I asked Mary to sponsor me.  I was worried she would say no, but her answer was, “I would be honored”.  I was surprised by this answer, she obviously didn’t understand what it entailed. I wasn’t experienced in the ways of the church, to be honest, I was doing it because a lot of my friends were.  During the confirmation process she patiently explained things to me, I confided I didn’t like going to church, she never judged me and shared her experiences, she wrote some very nice things about me, things I didn’t realize about myself.  I was impressed she took the time, it has stuck with me. Every time I would see her I would remind her that she was my Confirmation Sponsor, Mary never forgot. She helped me feel a part of the Ashland community.

Since this is a baseball blog, I need to add one quick baseball story about Mary. When I was in Senior League, her son “Tommer” was on my team the Tigers. I was in my last year and he was in his first.  Tom was a good pitcher and in his first start as a Tiger he faced Rodney Stibbe.  Rodney was a very good athlete from Ashland, in baseball and football.  Well,  Tom struck out Rodney the first time he faced him. Mary was so excited, I heard her say as we were running off the field, “He struck out Rodney Stibbe, that’s like striking out Hank Aaron.”  Tom seemed embarrassed, but I loved it, the memory has stuck with me.

I send my condolences to the Louko Family.  Mary touched me in her small way, but it had a large impact.