It has been a few days since I have written! I have been all over Florida, well Tampa and Miami. Also a couple of days in Atlanta, right now sitting in a café in Chicago. This is the last week of the MLB season, my consecutive game streak will end on Sunday in Milwaukee! I hope to go to some post season games, we will see how much money I have left. After today I will be in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, back to Chicago and the last two days in Brew City!
I been able to sleep in very comfortable beds five of the last seven days. A friend of my Aunt and Uncle graciously invited me into her home for 4 nights, thank you Pat! A boyhood friend called me after a Braves game and gave me a bed for the night, thank you Tom! I also got to watch a Tampa Bay Rays game with a couple of friends from High School I haven’t seen in at least 25 years, I had a great time Dody and Joey, can’t wait to see you two at Wahsburn’s homecoming next summer.
I need to finish strong, I needed sleep and got it! I have been thinking a lot about perseverance and commitment. Those are a couple of words that have stuck out in my mind this week, a friend used to call me “uncommittal” regarding another aspect of my life and I gave it much thought lately. Another friend (my queen, she will know who she is by this reference) responded to a Facebook post about something I posted regarding another friends daughters athletic prowess, I had given all the credit of her daughters athletic talent to her husband, my queen responded quickly and sternly by saying that my other friend taught her daughters perseverance. For what ever reason that stuck with me, it was so true, my un-athletic friend was always determined and persevered. I have more to say regarding these two things another time, but I have to say those two interactions have stuck with me and I was very grateful and happy I had them, they made me realize a couple things about my self.
I am not going to write to much to day, the driving from Atlanta to Chicago has me a little tired. I have to say I have met some great people on this trip, I love the interaction and conversations I have had at the ball parks, but I forget to talk about the wonderful people I have met at Starbucks. Yesterday, I had a great conversation with an amazing woman before the Braves game, we talked for two hours about many things from Donkeys to traveling in India, it is these interactions that I will miss most when this journey ends. Everyone has a story to tell! Thanks for reading today, I plan on finishing strong, only seven games left and I will accomplish another goal!
“Don’t tell me how to run my business” the guy said after I waved him off when he told me the price of the ticket. He wanted $30 for a $34 ticket. “I can buy a ticket for $24 at the ticket window” I retorted and started walking away, I apparently insulted him with my offer of $20. “No you can’t, cheapest is $32” he said defiantly, the guy was starting to get under my skin. He was showing everyone around how much of an idiot I was, “you are a jerk” I said scornfully as I walked across the street, I was feeling goofy about the amount of attention that was draw to him and me. His aggressive sales approach was one I hadn’t come across on this trip, “I will take the $20 for the ticket” he yelled when I reached the other side of the street, I turned and looked at him in disbelief and just yelled back “you are one arrogant asshole, I will spend the extra $4”, I didn’t like how I reacted to this guy, people were staring.
“I am sorry that you had to hear that” I said to the couple that was walking be side me, “I hate scalpers” the lady said, “I don’t mind them” I told her, “They serve a function, that guy was just being a jerk”. She didn’t know what to say, I felt uncomfortable, I decided to cross to the opposite side of street where there was another scalper, I asked him for his cheapest ticket, he said $30 for a $34, just like the other guy, I said I will give him $20, he said no, I said okay and started walking away, he immediately said $25, I kept walking he yelled $20. I didn’t like these guys in Tampa, to aggressive and arrogant. I knew there was $24 tickets at the window as did they, scalpers check and they hustle. As I crossed yet another street, I saw a ticket laying on the ground in front of two guys, I picked it up and asked if it was theirs, they said it wasn’t. It was for the game and a prime location, $79 face value. I was laughing, my Karma was good. One of the guys reminded me to “pay it forward”, I assured him I would.
I have learned to deal with scalpers the last couple of years. I have never bought a fake ticket and have only felt cheated once. Most scalpers are really “humping” before a game, buying tickets low and selling them at face value if they can. I actually like negotiating with them, these guys know their market and the type of fan they are dealing with, most fans go to only a few games a year so scalpers will always go above or at face value initially with people, most people will buy slightly below face value, they feel they got a deal and everyone is happy. If a scalper has good tickets for a premium game he knows what they are worth and he will usually only sell it at that price. I paid $45 to scalper at Target Field for a Brewers-Twins game, it was face value, he had paid $20 to a fan 20 minutes before, he was nice but said he will get $45 , since it was a decent seat and a premium game. He told me to come back if I couldn’t find one for less. I tried and failed.
I also know that a lot of scalpers lie, like the guy above. While in Boston I was walking up to the ticket window and a guy was trying to sell me a ticket for $30, I said I will buy it if I can’t get a cheaper one at the window, he said he would wait for me since he knew I couldn’t, I said we have a deal then. He didn’t think I would wait in line and check, he lied, I bought one for $20, he didn’t wait around for me. Another time in Baltimore, there was a day-night doubleheader, I went to the first game and decided to go to the second game if I could buy a ticket from a scalper for $10 or if I could get a free one. When the first scalper approached me I asked for his cheapest ticket, he said $24, I asked him what he had for $10, he waved me off and laughed. I walked away, he called me back, he said I have this one you can have for $20, I told I am only willing to pay $10, he laughed again and wished me luck. I knew my chances were slim. I would wait around until right before game time, if I couldn’t get one, I would leave. The scalper and his buddy walked by me a couple of times and smiled, they asked if I have found that $10 ticket yet, I told them it wasn’t looking good, they felt satisfied.
About 5 minutes later and right before game time, I heard a police officer ask a guy if he needed a ticket, she had one, he didn’t need one, I walked over and said I needed one, she gave it to me. It was a premium seat 7 rows off the field, I thanked her, looked for my scalper friends, they weren’t around, wanted to smile at them, they would have appreciated the irony. I went to my seat, thanked the three men that gave the cop the ticket, they told me they were given the tickets also and didn’t want to waste the 4th. It was a Yankee game and Derek Jeter was playing! I smiled at my good fortune!
Scalpers are business people, they need to make money, I understand that some are jerks, but for the most part I have enjoyed the interaction I have had with them. A lot of people don’t like the negotiation, I happen to enjoy it. I had a scalper in Omaha apologize to me for being “short” with me during a transaction, I didn’t need a ticket but wanted to find out what tickets were going for on the “street”, I told him what I was doing after, we shook hands, I understand why he was frustrated with me.
Getting to the end of the journey, want to mention that I accomplished another goal last night. I went to a game in Miami, it was the final stadium I needed to attend to hit all 30 MLB parks, along with a game in the 48 states, I am feeling accomplished. I don’t know what it all means but it feels good.
As I sit at yet another Starbucks, this time in St Petersburg, Florida, I’m reflecting on the last eight months and trying to “square” in my mind that this is ending. As much as I want to get back to some normalcy, I fear that I will fall back into being comfortable and not happy. I know that I will find joy talking with and seeing my daughter regularly, that is a given. What I am talking about is the feeling I have of getting up and not caring that it’s a Monday or a Friday. People will say, “Yeah, but you were living a dream.” I agree, getting to do what I have done. However, I have met many people that love getting up each morning and going to work.
I am sure Derek Jeter would continue to play baseball everyday if he could. He has more than enough money to travel, buy, and do whatever he wants. What I have found out is that you can be very happy living with hardly anything. I have had help in this “dream” venture. Without my brother Chad, this project would have been over a few months ago. I need to make a commitment to myself, and to all that have been apart of this journey in any way, that I will continue. I have more than enough material to write a book. If I didn’t do that I would be missing out at another opportunity to grow and overcome something I have always wanted to do. But, I have told myself that “Nobody would read it”; or, “It is too hard”; or, “What I write makes no sense”.
I met a lady in Williamsport, who is a paramedic and was working the Little League Championship game. Her crew was on a medical cart in front of the scoreboard, they were standing on it to watch the game. When the game ended, they continued to stand and were oblivious to the crowd taking pictures. Some were grumbling that they were in the way, but no one said anything. I finally asked if they could move, she said, “Yes, of course” and they didn’t hesitate to get out of the way. The had not give much thought to their ‘position’ interfering with ‘picture taking’; and, I was probably a bit stern with her and her crew. I left the game and went to a local Starbucks, as I sat and tried to write a post that day, I thought about how “stern” I must have seemed. As I was thinking this, the paramedic came in. I went up to her thanked her for moving, she laughed about it and we had this great conversation for the next three hours. We talked about an array of subjects like we were old friends. I had to leave, needing to get my next stop. We exchanged numbers. And, occasionally, she has checked-in, after she has read my blog, to comment.
I bring that story up because it was her that made me finally realize that what I write, or how I write, affects people. I am not dismissing the importance all the other people that read and have commented. I am trying to show that people have come into my life at moments when I have least expected it and conveyed a message that many others have had already; but, I didn’t quite hear. I hope she doesn’t mind, but part of text she sent to me the other day said this, “…it might say something about your character if I tell you that each blog I have read just makes me smile about how you interact with people and the world. Not to mention the things you are experiencing – it’s your take on them that is so enjoyable to read…” That hit me, especially the word “enjoyable”, why I don’t know. Chad brings up stories that he tells people to read. My sister, Debbie, will call laughing about something I have written and I love it. I have reread different posts at times and I tend to get caught up in the grammar, or sentence structure, etc.
My mindset has been that this will end. I need to ‘realize’ that this part of my journey will end. I have the ability and material to continue writing. I can actually do another project concerning baseball (I already have another one in mind that doesn’t involve traveling all over the country and won’t cost very much). I will write a book about this adventure. I think I worry to much about things I can’t control, like getting it published and if people will read it. I have to realize that the joy is in the process. Yes, I will have to get a job. Everyone needs to make money to survive; but, I don’t have to let it determine how happy I am going to be day to day. I am hitting my stride in my life and have always been a late bloomer.
I still have some goals I need to meet regarding this journey. Tomorrow, I should accomplish another one. I will be in Miami and will have gone to a game at all the MLB ball parks. The last one is to go to a game everyday during the baseball season. The baseball season ends with the final out of the World Series. Unfortunately, I might have to settle with going to the end of the regular MLB season. It is what it is. Life is like that sometimes. Even though, I do hope I will be able to get to some of the post season games.
I haven’t posted in a few days. It isn’t because I haven’t written, but because I spent three hours writing something up and I accidentally deleted it when I went to publish it! I then spent an hour wanting to cry, yell, curse Microsoft and throw my laptop. I have done this twice now on this trip. Both times I thought what I wrote was some of my best work…
I haven’t figured out what I was suppose to learn from this yet, besides slowing down before posting anything. I have driven a lot the last few days, going from Baltimore to Pittsburgh to Atlanta. After tonight’s game I am heading to Tampa for two games.
The post that I lost I talked about the great experience in New York at the Mets-Nationals game I had. I took my glove into the game, first time I did that since I caught a batting practice home run ball in Houston back in April. I thought I would give it another try since the trip is winding down, I wanted to be a kid on this particular day. I arrived early and I went to the left field seats, two guys were in the section were I was, near the foul pole. There was a six foot high partition that separated another section. I felt I should have went over to that section but didn’t feel like walking up to the concourse and then back down just to move over 10 feet.
As I was debating about moving, one of the Nationals hit a ball that was coming my way. I realized it was going over my head to the upper deck. Looking up I saw glass windows of a restaurant above. I moved to the partition to see if it was going to bounce back towards me; but, the ball went out of sight. I heard it hit the window and in a flash saw it come back towards me. I extended my arm and body as far as I could until I was on my tip toes, the ball landed in my glove. I was astonished because it was all reaction and was impressed that I could extend as far as I did. However, I knew instantly I would probably be sore in the morning since I felt it in my muscles. The two men in my section and three guys in the other section were clapping, they said, “You made a difficult catch look easy.”
Since I got a ball I thought I would go to my seat in center field. Once I got to section, there was a kid waiting to get balls and he had gotten three already. He was in high school and wanted to be a sportscaster when he grew up. There was two Nationals in center retrieving baseballs. The kid told me the name of the taller pitcher and thought the other one was Jordan Zimmermann. He wasn’t sure but wanted to yell to him to thank him for getting his fantasy team into the playoffs. I immediately said, “I know him.” I wanted to impress the kid with this knowledge. As fast as I said that I knew him, I had to admit, “I didn’t; but, knew his sisters-in-law.” The kid wanted me to yell to Jordan. Wanting to impress this kid again, I told him I never met him; but, “Jordan did leave me tickets for two games the week before in Washington.” At that moment Jordan ran over to the fence to get a ball. The kid asked if he could have it and Jordan threw it up to him then ran back to talk to the other pitcher.
I felt goofy that I was trying to impress the kid. He inquired why I was able to travel all over. I explained what I was doing and that seemed to make the kid’s day. Again Jordan ran after a ball close by. This time I yell over to him and he came over. I told him who I was, thanked him for the tickets and he gave me a thumbs up. The kid thanked him for doing a great job for him. He was excited that Jordan took the time. The young man left and as I was sitting there Jordan threw a ball up to me. I thanked him and a moment later he threw another one to me, “that one is cleaner” he said. Other people wanted to know how he knew me, I told them he didn’t. It was a beautiful night for baseball and I very much felt like a kid.
That was the overview of the original story I wrote. When this trip is finished, I plan to get the entire moment on ‘paper’. The next day I went to a day-night doubleheader in Baltimore. The Yankees were in town, I was expecting two large crowds, even though, I was only going to go to the afternoon game. I was in line to get a ticket when a family came up and gave me a ticket. As always, I was very thankful. I chose to sit in the outfield where I could stretch out, I was the only one in my row of seats. In about the third inning another guy came to sit near by. I looked at him and he looked at me, we nodded. I was talking to a family in the row in front of me. I started noticing people coming up to this guy and taking a picture with him.
I now wanted to know who this guy was, and I was the “Baseball Buddha”, I was going to ask. This might be a good story. Since he was only a couple seats away, I asked, “Why is everyone taking a picture with you?” he looked at me a little amused and said, “You would have to ask them.” I said, “Don’t give me that shit, who are you?”. He looked at me laughed and said sheepishly, “I am the GM of the Yankees, Brian Cashman”, I was a little skeptical and I asked, “Why you would be sitting out here?” He told me that he was also a baseball fan and it is nice to get a different perspective.
I talked with Cashman for awhile about what I was doing and was going to leave him alone; but, he was asking me questions. People would interrupt to get a picture with him. In turn, I asked him all kinds of questions and he answered as best he could. He told me some things that were fun to hear and I will leave it at that for now. I appreciated him taking the time with me and everyone who wanted a picture with him. Some of the people were posting the pictures on Instagram and Twitter right away as I was checking while I sat with him. He was nothing but nice to everyone. However, some that had a picture weren’t very nice in their post’s. He said, “It gets old, but it is part of the job. It is hard not to be affected by what people say; but, for the most part I don’t let it get to me.”
He took a call and I went back to my seat and a half inning later he got up to leave. He came over, shook my hand and wished me well. As he walked down the stairs, people took pictures of him. A couple people came over to inquire how I knew him, I told them, “I don’t.” I was impressed with Jordan and Brian, I don’t know either one; but, personally, I think they are “class acts” They didn’t have to talk to me but they did. Each is living part of my dream. They are involved in baseball, which to me means happiness.
I am sitting in a Starbucks in West Haven, Connecticut. I have been looking for jobs and apartments in Milwaukee, the reality is setting in that I have to get back to a “normal” existence. I have to say that it will probably be more comforting when the time comes.
I will be able to make it to the end of the regular MLB baseball season. Unfortunately, I probably will not be able to make it much further than that. I am beginning to accept that fact. It has been a good run and I have plenty or stories and memories. I hope I am not disappointing anyone, I have just enough money to finish the regular season. It is what it is… I look at the bright side, I have gone to a baseball game in all the continental 48 states, by the end of next week I will have gone to each of the MLB stadiums, the College World Series, the American Legion World Series, the Little League World Series, the MLB All Star game, four Opening Days (Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Giants), I have met so many wonderful people, I have been all over the news and newspapers.
I am amazed I have gotten this far. I hope it will help on a resume… I have gained significant insight, about the country, about baseball, and about myself. I am very pleased that my car has been so reliable, (thank you Lexus! I also just knocked on wood), I can say that if Starbucks ever needs to know about any of their stores, they call me. I have been to more than my fair share! I will miss my routines, even sleeping in the car, it is my home and I know where every thing is…
I am going to a game in New York City tonight, a Mets game, it is September 11th. My thoughts go to the families that lost someone on that tragic day, 13 years ago. I have been blessed to be able to do what I have.
Today I am back in Boston. I went to a game between Baltimore and Boston, not much of a game, Boston won, 10-6. I got to see a family I met when I was in Cape Cod a couple months ago, the Hardons. They have been very encouraging since I met them and it was great to talk with them.
Fenway Park is my favorite MLB stadium and this was the second time I was here during this trip. I had the same visceral feeling, the history hit me; so, I didn’t watch a lot of the game. I wandered and caught the game from different site lines. I thought of the players, the most remembered and the forgotten, who played on the field. I marveled at the how well the place has been maintained and improved. It is a museum. I had the urge to donate to the “Jimmy Fund” every time I walked by a donation station. Simple and unexploited, no sponsor was attached to it, it seems pure. (Red Sox fans know about the Jimmy Fund)
Sponsorship has been a part of the game since its inception. I personally think is overdone. Even at Fenway, I cringe at the signage on the Green Monster. Historically, the wall was always intended to have it; but, I just don’t like it. When you walk and read all the brick walls, seeing the vintage signage that is painted on the brick, something hits you – or it does me. I am a nostalgia freak admittedly, but it is an art form from “back in the day” to produce these commercial pieces. Today, we let a computer replicate such things, it feels empty.
I read somewhere that as you get older you tend to lose your interest in politics and start appreciating history since that is where you will eventually end up and this is happening to me with the game. It is the history that I have chosen to embrace since it is so much apart of America. I am excited to see what happens with Wrigley Field, with Fenway’s example, I am positive they will master the update. I hope other gems, like Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, get the love and attention it needs.
The day was cool, felt like fall was in the air. I wore a sweatshirt, pants and shoes for the first time in months. I am fretting about the end of this journey. I still have well over a month left and I know I will get to the end of the regular baseball season. I hope to be able to make it to the end for the World Series. That has always been the plan and I need a little bit of luck to do it. The world has already conspired to make this trip happen, relatively easily. I am starting to think what it is going to be like sleeping in a bed every day and taking a shower in my own place (also daily). I hope that I continue in some capacity within baseball. I went into this without expectations, to say that I was void of all would be a lie, it has been a roller coaster of expectations, especially when I was getting interviewed every day. We will see where I end up…
Chad, my brother, has pushed and supported me throughout. He reminds me how important it is for me to finish. I can honestly say that I have never had a moment where I said “What am I doing?”, until now. Worry has crept in I admit; however, I have absolutely no regrets. I am doing something that very few people have done and maybe, none other than myself. Why that is important, I will never know. I wish everyone could follow their passion. I’m just so grateful that I have had so many people supporting me.
Being at Fenway stirred up all the memories I have about the trip, things that I haven’t written about. I think of all the nights I have slept in the car. I would say, “More than 70% of the time.” I am so glad I made that decision to ‘camp out’, or I would never have been able to finish. I have learned so much about the game, people, and especially myself. I have been told that I am bold, brash, crazy, and fearless. May be when judged from the outside looking in, but there have been many days and nights I had to push myself through insecurities and fears. I do feel more confident. Fenway stirred all of this contemplation in me…
Have you ever wondered why the MLB baseball season is so long? Why do they play 162 games?
To answer the first question and part of the second, I think we need to go back to roughly 1904, the beginning of the “modern” era of baseball. At that time there was no one broadcasting games on the radio; but, newspapers had already been covering the sport for years. Some games were actually broadcast by telegraph to saloons. You have to think of baseball as daily entertainment. There was a recognition of the willingness of people to pay to see grown men play the game. The entertainment choices were limited and the baseball owners were filling a need for the general public in a world without TV, Internet, and instant gratification.
The game grew in popularity with more and more people coming out to the ball park. There were eight teams in the National League and eight teams in the American League. Each team played their seven opponents in their league 22 times for a total of 154 games per season.
“In 1913 Western Union paid each team $17,000 per year over five years for the rights to broadcast the games. The movie industry purchased the rights to film and show the highlights of the 1910 World Series for $500. In 1911 the owners managed to increase that rights fee to $3500.” (The Economic History of Major League Baseball)
With the advent of radio, more people were exposed to the game. On August 5th, 1921, Harold Arlin of KDKA, broadcast the first baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies (Pirates won, 8-5). The MLB owners originally saw radio as a threat to the value of their franchises. They resisted putting their games on the radio for fear that customers would stay home to listen to the game for free rather than come to the park. Owners soon realized that this media only helped the popularity of the game. More and more people came out and listened to the games. The schedule of 154 games was optimal for entertainment and financial purposes. However, the long schedule did something else that a shorter schedule would stymie. Teams would need both skill and endurance in order to win. Luck was less of a factor.
So to that end, the test of a champion would be performing consistently over an entire season. The long season taxes the pitching staff and the bench has to contribute. If it was one game a week like football, one good starting pitcher could carry a team a long way. Baseball might be less demanding physically but it more than makes up for it with the mental game. My buddy, Dan (Ante), loves to point out that it is a marathon and not a sprint. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Also, this shows why the entire organization needs to be on the same page during the season. A team might consist of the 25 players that are shown on their roster; but, if they don’t have players in their pipeline at the different levels to come up, you will not win consistently. It has always been an organizational championship, one player will never make or break a team in baseball.
Save the season of 1919, the 154 game schedule didn’t changed until 1961. In 1961 the American League expanded to 10 teams, playing their nine opponent’s 18 times each. The following year the National League expanded to 10 teams and they switched to the 162 game schedule. As the MLB has evolved over the years, the formula has changed on how the schedule is comprised. Today every team now plays 19 games against each of 4 opponents within its division (76 games), and six or seven games against each of the 10 opponents from other divisions (66 games), plus 20 interleague games.
I hope I gave some clarification to those questions. The MLB season is a long one and I think the teams that make the playoffs year in and year out, for the most part, deserve to be there. I didn’t touch on the preponderance of some teams that can afford to buy enough talent to put them on the cusp every year. I wanted to try and answer why baseball has a long season and the amount of games it has settled on.
As I sat and watched the happenings at Yankee Stadium along with 50,000 other people on Derek Jeter Day in the City of New York, I invariable had to wonder why this man connected with so many people. People were spending hundreds of dollars to buy shirts, hats and other trinkets celebrating his career. I wanted to get to the stadium early since I didn’t have a ticket. I figured three hours before game time would give me plenty of time to find a parking spot and a ticket, wrong… Traffic was a nightmare! I did feel smarter than the average fan, however. I went a different way than the “normal” way to the stadium. I was shocked at the site when I arrived, the entire place was encircled with fans.
I pulled into the parking structure across the street and a worker handing out the parking passes said, “Why does he have to retire?” As the gate opened, I responded in wonderment at the crush of people by just saying, “This is insane!” I worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a ticket. There were lines of people everywhere. But, to my amazement, I was able to walk right up to the ticket window and purchase a ticket. I asked for the “cheapest” ticket, “The cheapest I have is $95” the guy said behind the window, I was skeptical. He gave me that attitude you only seem to find in the Northeast, I paid the $95. What was I going to do? This would be an expensive day, $35 for parking also. (I am getting to the end of the trip and I am starting to worry everyday about money, it is what it is…)
As I walked around the inside of the stadium and watched the lines of people purchasing all the nostalgia of this day, I started getting swept up in the emotion of it all. People were buying a piece of history, at least that’s what they thought. Someone asked if there was any game day programs left, the vendor said, “No.” He then mentioned that they were already selling on Ebay for $80. I laughed at the thought of how fast people want to profit. The energy was abundant, I would look at a “cool” t-shirt to buy and then realize it was just this energy and emotion that was tempting me. I had already been given a commemorative coin when I walked in, that would have to suffice.
When the ceremony started to honor Jeter, I watched the fans. I could see in their eyes that they felt they knew him, that they had history with him, that he was their brother, hero and inspiration. Derek Jeter is an entertainer and a showman. He managed his image meticulously. But, to be able to do what he has done, he had to be a man with incredible talent and humility. I loved the pageantry. New York City proclaimed September 7th, 2014, Derek Jeter Day. 50,000 people showed up early to a game to honor him. Old teammates of years gone by where there, along with ‘Legends” of other sports who also made appearances. Memories of championships, great plays and other moments played out on the big screen in centerfield.
I was being thoroughly entertained, the moment was big, this was the Yankees. Of course, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris, Jackson; and now, Jeter. I was trying to be nostalgic of another time and era, before social media in my thoughts. I took in the moment from my vantage point. I was grateful that I got to witness this grand moment. I got to hear the fans, the noise and then it was over. The game was played, Jeter got a hit in his first at bat, the Yankees lost, 2-0, to the Royals. I didn’t feel bad, he had already won five World Series Championships. I did laughed at some of the comments of fans about other players, they were harsh, critical and some were mean. Throughout the game the stadium slowly emptied. I didn’t understand why because the Yankees are having a good year, not great but good, and still might make the playoffs. I guess expectations are just different here…
Baseball is an emotional sport for fans. Their attachment and expectations of players, rise and fall on every play and game. Some players are easy scapegoats and some turn into legends that can do no wrong. To understand why people get so emotional is probably a pointless exercise. I know that I have a physical reaction to the energy I feel when at, and during, games. I enjoy the feeling which helps me stay in the moment and that is probably what most people feel. That feeling helps us stay connected to one another, that is why we need hero’s in our sports. Thank you, Derek Jeter!
I went to see the Washington Nationals the last two days. I had a great experience on Friday night and this afternoon. I sat in the players’ family and friend section. I have to thank Pam LePlavy and her sister Mandy Zimmermann for hooking me up with tickets (Mandy is married to Jordan, Pam is part of Oredocker Nation). I had a fun time sitting with a college friend, Anthony Rendon, Nationals third baseman and a friend of Nationals centerfielder, Denard Span.
It was interesting to get to talk with both and to hear some behind the scenes stuff; especially, since both Rendon and Span had great nights at the plate, with each being involved in plays that cost the Nationals runs.
I am not going to write too much tonight. It was very hot and humid today, I am worn out and want to get some sleep. I will be at the Yankees game tomorrow. They are retiring Derek Jeter’s number, so I need to get there early to find some decent parking, and hopefully, won’t have to pay too much for a ticket.
I am happy to report that I accomplished one of the goals I had when I began this journey. I wanted to get to a game in each of the continental 48 States. I complied a list of the first game I saw in each state and what I remember about the experience.
Alabama-AL Game 73, played April 21 in Birmingham. A Double-A MiLB game between the Tennessee Lookouts and Birmingham Barons. The Lookouts beat the Barons, 10-5. It was a day game and I got a home run ball!
Arizona-AZ Game 45, played March 25 in Phoenix. A Cactus League Spring Training game between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers. I met my buddy Jared and his family at the game. The Giants beat the Brewers, 4-3. The Brewers are my hometown team and of course my favorite.
Arkansas-AR Game 94, played May 12 in Little Rock. A Double-A MiLB game between the NW Arkansas Naturals and the Arkansas Travelers. The Naturals beat the Travelers in extra innings, 6-5. The game finished about midnight and I had to drive about three hours and it started storming as I was running to my car.
California-CA Game 50, played March 30 in San Diego. This was Opening Night of the MLB season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately the Padres beat the Dodgers, 3-1. (I am a Dodgers fan…) This was also my very first opening day anywhere.
Colorado-CO Game 63, played April 12 in Grand Junction. A NCAA D2 college game between Metro State (Denver) and Colorado Mesa. Colorado Mesa won, 10-3. This was the first game of a doubleheader and I met “The Pit”, one of my top experiences.
Connecticut-CT Game 210, played August 25 in Norwich. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Lowell Spinners and the Connecticut Tigers. The Spinners beat the Tigers, 7-3.
Delaware-DE Game 211, played August 26 in Wilmington. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Potomac Nationals and the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The Nationals beat the Blue Rocks, 3-1.
Florida-FL Game 1, played February 14 in Port Charlotte. A NCAA D1 college game between the University of Auburn and Indiana State. Auburn prevailed 4-0. This game was the official start of the Baseball in America Tour 2014. It was also Valentines Day!
Georgia-GA Game 75, played April 23 in Suwanee. A high school game between Johns Creek HS and Lambert HS. Lambert prevailed, 9-3, and at the time they were the top ranked high school team in the nation. I was walking around acting like a scout and I remember being impressed with Johns Creek catcher.
Idaho-ID Game 185, played August 3 in Boise. A Short Season Single-A MiLB game between the Vancouver Canadians and the Boise Hawks. The Hawks beat the Canadians, 3-2. This was a Sunday afternoon game where I got two foul balls.
Illinois-IL Game 132, played June 15 in Chicago. This was a MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. The Royals beat the White Sox, 6-3. It was a Sunday afternoon game, I was tired from the day and night before in Milwaukee.
Indiana-IN Game 101, played May 19 in Evansville. A high school game between North HS and Mater Dei HS both of Evansville, a rivalry game. Mater Dei beat North, 7-3. This game was played at Bosse Field, one of my top stadium choices.
Iowa-IA Game 141, played June 23 in Des Moines. A MiLB game between the Albuquerque Isotopes and the Iowa Cubs. The Cubs beat the Isotopes, 4-3. I was tired and it was a day game. There was lots of kids in the stands from the local day care facilities.
Kansas-KS Game 98, played May 16 in Manhattan. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Texas and Kansas State. Texas destroyed K-State, 12-0. It was a no hitter, raining and I found a practice ball under the bleachers.
Kentucky-KY Game 102, played May 20 in Lexington. A MiLB Single-A game between the Hagerstown Suns and the Lexington Legends. The Suns soundly defeated the Legends, 11-3. I was reading a book before the game near the bullpen and almost got hit by a warm up pitch that was overflown. The pitcher allowed me to keep the ball.
Louisiana-LA Game 42, played March 23 in Baton Rouge. It was a college game between the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University. LSU won, 2-1. I slept in Tiger Stadium parking lot and was amazed at the turn out for a college baseball game.
Maine-ME Game 154, played July 5 in Portland. A MiLB Double-A game between the New Britain Rock Cats and the Portland Sea Dogs. The Sea Dogs shutout the Rock Cats, 4-0. I changed my schedule for this one on the spur of the moment so I could I could get Maine checked off the list. It was the first game of a doubleheader.
Maryland-MD Game 219, played September 3 in Baltimore. A MLB game between Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles won, 6-0. This completed the goal of getting to a game in all of the continental 48 states during the Baseball in America Tour 2014.
Massachusetts-MA Game 152, played July 3 in Hyannis. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. The Red Sox beat the Harbor Hawks, 8-2. I was very excited to be at this game; however, traffic was a nightmare! Loved the atmosphere of the game and it is one of my top experiences.
Michigan-MI Game 133, played June 16 in Detroit. A MLB game between the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers. The Royals beat the Tigers, 11-8. I remember sitting in the last row behind home plate on a beautiful night for baseball. I had a great view of the city.
Minnesota-MN Game 117, played June 2 in Mankato. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Wilmar Stingers and the Mankato Moon Dogs. The Moon Dogs won handily over the Stingers, 10-2. The night was cloudy and I enjoyed a fish fry at local bar even though it was Monday. And, a plus of the day, the waitress was very attractive.
Mississippi-MS Game 72, played April 20 in Hattiesburg. A NCAA D1 game between Louisiana Tech and the Southern Miss University. I was treated like a “Rock Star”, I was interviewed on the local TV station and I got to meet Hall of fame punter Ray Guy. I had a great time in “The Roost” on Easter Sunday.
Missouri-MO Game 99, played May 17 in Kansas City. A MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. The Royals won in a great pitchers dual, 1-0. The pitcher for KC was perfect through 6 2/3 innings and I also got to meet the KC Super Fan.
Montana-MT Game 170, played July 20 in Billings. This was an American Legion game between Medicine Hat (Canada) and the Billings Scarlets. Billings hung on to win the game, 9-7. It was the first game of a double header and I was interviewed by the local newspaper.
Nebraska-NE Game 136, played June 19 in Omaha. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and Texas Christian University (TCU). Ole Miss won over TCU, 6-4. This was at the College World Series. I changed my schedule to come early to the CWS and I had a Press Pass for the next day.
Nevada-NV Game 56, played April 5 in Las Vegas. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Las Vegas 51’s. The Grizzlies scored 7 runs, with two outs on the board, in the top of the ninth to win, 8-6. This was Opening Night for MiLB. The Wisconsin Badgers got beat by the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.
New Hampshire-NH Game 212, played August 27 in Manchester. A MiLB Single-A game between Harrisburg Senators and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Senators beat the Fisher Cats, 9-6. I was interviewed during the fifth inning by the Fisher Cats play by play announcer.
New Jersey-NJ Game 205, played August 22 in Lakewood. A MiLB Single-A game between the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Lakewood Blue Claws. The Blue Claws had a shutout over the Shorebirds, 4-0. This day got switched around. I was suppose to go to Montclair, but changed it to Trenton since it was closer. When I arrived, I realized they were out of town, luckily Lakewood was close by and playing at home.
New Mexico-NM Game 66, played April 14 in Albuquerque. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Tacoma Rainiers and the Albuquerque Isotopes. The Rainiers were triumphant, 8-6, over the Isotopes. I remember having my first funnel cake made by the great ladies on the third base side, along with being impressed with the guy making Banana Foster behind home plate.
New York-NY Game 151, played July 2 in Utica. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Elmira Pioneers and the Utica Brewers. The Pioneers defeated the Brewers, 4-0, in a rain shortened affair. I was interviewed by the local news.
North Carolina-NC Game 106, played May 23 in Charlotte. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Charlotte Knights. The Indians hammered the Knights, 15-6. The stadium was new and beautiful. I was also interviewed by the local news.
North Dakota-ND Game 122, played June 7 in Fargo. This was an Independent Professional league game in the American Association between the Winnipeg Goldeyes and the Fargo Morehead RedHawks. The RedHawks outlasted the Goldeyes, 4-2. I was surprised at the size of the crowd for the game and there were lines of fans because it was “Jersey” night.
Ohio-OH Game 108, played May 25 in Cincinnati. A MLB game between the St Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals defeated the Reds, 4-0, behind a great pitching performance by Adam Wainwright. Charlie Sheen was at the game and I was interviewed by ESPN in front of the stadium.
Oklahoma-OK Game 95, played May 23 in Oklahoma City. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Colorado Sky Sox and the Oklahoma City RedHawks. The RedHawks beat the Sky Sox, 1-0. It was a day game and I was interviewed by the play by play announcer for his pregame show. The stadium was packed with school children.
Oregon-OR Game 179, played July 28 in Salem. A MiLB Short Season Single-A game between the Eugene Gems and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Volcanoes defeated the Gems, 5-3. I sat on a picnic table near the bullpen on the third base side. I was impressed with the amount of merchandise in the team store.
Pennsylvania-PA Game 149, played June 30 in Erie. A MiLB Double-A game between the Akron Rubber Ducks and the Erie Sea Wolves. The Rubber Ducks destroyed the Sea Wolves, 9-1. I sat in the Press Box, “Geeked the Game” and parked directly across the street.
Rhode Island-RI Game 214, played August 29 in Pawtucket. A MiLB Triple A game between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Red Sox beat the Chiefs in a close game, 2-1. I gave blood before the game.
South Carolina-SC Game 78, played April 26 in Clemson. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Miami and Clemson University. Miami beat Clemson, 3-2. I sat in the Cheap Seats and camped out on campus with a great group of people. We had late night tacos. One of my top experiences.
South Dakota-SD Game 167, played July 17 in Sioux Falls. This was a Independent Professional league in the American Association between the Laredo Lemurs and the Sioux Falls Explorers. The Lemurs squeaked out the win over the Explorers, 1-0. I was interviewed by a local tv station and by the play by play announcer.
Tennessee-TN Game 76, played April 24 in Chattanooga. A MiLB Double-A league game between the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts outlasted the Barons, 5-4. The stadium was on top of a hill, with an outside escalator and there was pollen on everything!
Texas-TX Game 43, played March 23 in College Station. A NCAA D1 game between the University of Florida and Texas A&M. Texas A&M wins over Florida, 4-3. It was a chilly windy Sunday afternoon game and the students kept yelling something when the Florida catcher patted the pitchers ass. (“You need a cigarette?”)
Utah-UT Game 61, played April 10 in Salt Lake City. A MiLB Triple-A game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Salt Lake Bees. The Grizzlies hammered the Bees, 11-4. I remember that an outfielder slide head first into the wall and the ambulance had to come on the field. Also, the walk back to the motel was a bit unnerving with meth heads and house everywhere.
Vermont-VT Game 217, played September 1 in Burlington. A MiLB Short Season Single-A game between the Tri City Valley Cats and the Vermont Lake Monsters. The Valley Cats beat the Lake Monsters, 3-2. I loved the old stadium and the downtown area.
Virginia-VA Game 203, played August 20 in Richmond. A MiLB Double-A game between the New Britain Rock Cats and the Richmond Flying Squirrels. It wasn’t much of a game the Rock Cats won, 7-0. The stadium was built in the early 80’s. I sat in the Press Box and was treated exceptional well by Richmond.
Washington-WA Game 174, played July 23rd in Yakima. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between the Bellingham Bells and Yakima Valley Pippins. The Bells held on to defeat the Pippins 5-4. I was interviewed by the play by play announcer.
West Virginia-WV Game 204, played August 21 in Princeton. A MiLB Rookie league game between the Greenville Astros and the Princeton Jays. The Jays held to get the shutout over the Astros, 1-0. This game started late because of rain and I was worried that it won’t be played. This was the only day I was scheduled in West Virginia. I helped take the tarp off the field.
Wisconsin-WI Game 110, played May 27 in Milwaukee. This was a MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers beat the Orioles, 7-6. It was the first time I was home during the trip, I went to the game by myself.
Wyoming-WY Game 169, played July 19 in Casper. This was a college summer wooden bat league game between Sterling and the Casper Cutthroats. The Cutthroats pulled out the win in extra innings, 6-5. I was interviewed by the local TV station and watched a lot of the game with the owner of the Cutthroats.
That is my ‘collection synopsis’ of memories at each game I attended, what I saw or did, in each of our 48 States. It took me ten hours to compile this; so, if you read all the way down to here – I “thank you!”
"Love the game of baseball and baseball will love you."