Itinerary – “The Refuge Of The Roads”
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My Quest –

My itinerary will help me find my new way. As I mentioned in my first post: “I needed a change, I couldn’t go back to my old life, but didn’t know what else to do. I still don’t.” Instead, I’ll search for a new path for my life in “the refuge of the roads”.

“I was running like a white-assed deer
Running to lose the blues
To the innocence in here
These are the clouds of Michelangelo
Muscular with gods and sungold
Shine on your witness in the refuge of the roads”

Joni Mitchell, “Refuge of the Roads” 1

This is not a just a trip to see each ballpark and have other baseball experiences. Nor is it a trip to see my team play as much as possible. No, this is a personal quest to find a new path, a new destiny. I need to fulfill my penance and give something to society. I envision a pot of gold at the end of this trip to support youth baseball.

However, to fully achieve the goal, I need the satisfaction of finishing the journey! I will not be satisfied if I don’t complete all forty-two planned stops. I’m like Frodo – I need to get to Mordor.

Up until now, baseball has been a hobby for me. Now I plan to immerse myself in the game and hopefully discover who I really am. I imagine that there will be times where I will need to force myself to travel or to write. However, by facing the challenge, I believe I will find my elusive new path.

Logistic Requirements

How do I plan an eight-month journey with forty-two specific baseball stops? Scheduling the trip is a logistical challenge, to say the least. A fundamental difficulty is that the tour needs to fit team and event schedules.

First of all, there are logistic requirements:

  • Needless to say, I need to make sure that there the teams are home when I get to their cities.
  • To conserve costs, I need to group cities together, so I don’t retrace my steps and book more flights than necessary.
  • Stay warm – there is no use in going north in late April – the sunny south will be better.

Forty-Two Stops

Of course, I’m going to all 30 MLB baseball stadiums. However, I have some specific things to see at the ballparks along the way. I discuss these in the section below.

Twelve additional baseball experiences will make the journey complete:

  1. Field of Dreams Location
  2. Negro Leagues Museum
  3. College World Series
  4. Little League World Series
  5. Cooperstown
  6. Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
  7. International Games in London, England
  8. International Games in Monterrey, Mexico
  9. Spring Training
  10. Arizona Fall League
  11. All-Star Game and Home Run Derby
  12. World Series

My Itinerary

As soon as the schedules came out, I charted my path to navigate the journey. As with most things in my life, I created a spreadsheet with the games, flights, hotels and associated costs. After a few edits, this is the plan:

Spring Training – “The Best Week of The Year” – March 15th – 23rd

This will be the 16th straight spring that a friend and I make this trip. We interrupt the end of the dreary winter with some sun, good food and especially baseball. I’ll detail the experience in my later posts.

Spring Training – Jupiter, FL

Score: MLB Stadiums: 0; Other Experiences: 1; Total Stops: 1

Mets’ Opening Day – Washington D.C. March 28th

I almost didn’t have this game on my schedule. For one thing, I thought I might still be working; it was to be my last full week. Things change, and clearly, my employment status is no longer an obstacle.

Additionally, I didn’t know that my Metsies would be playing the Nationals. Note that I use Mets broadcaster, brilliant first baseman and should be Hall of Famer Keith Hernandez’s affectation of “Mets.” They are the “Metsies” in our lexicon.

Mighty Max Scherzer

Opening Day in D.C. also means that DeGrom (“the DeGrominator”) might go against the great, Heterochromia iridium impaired Max Scherzer. DeGrom and Scherzer are possibly the two best righties in the National League, so I have to go. “Heterochromia iridium” means that Scherzer’s eyes are two different colors. Not sure it is an “impairment” as he still has excellent stuff.

Finally, how do I experience the entire season and not attend opening day? I mean – it’s almost a disqualifying event to not participate.

I’m making it a one-day trip. I’ll fly down in the morning take the Metro to the game and fly back when it’s over.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 1; Other Experiences: 1: Total Stops: 2

Jackie Robinson Remembrance, Philadelphia, April 15th

There is no one I revere more in baseball and society in general than Jackie Robinson. He changed the world through his courage, commitment and willingness to take a significant amount of abuse.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

April 15th is the anniversary of Jackie’s historic first game in 1947. Each year, all players wear his number to commemorate the day and demonstrate that we are all the same – that we are only distinguished by our talents. It is, more than anything, a lesson for all to remember.

I’ll drive down to Philadelphia on Sunday, see the game on Monday and then drive home on Tuesday.

Oh, by the way, I bought a historically accurate replica of Jackie’s jersey to wear to the game. Yes, the only jersey I own is the most expensive version that I will wear once a year. One does not wear the #42 especially when it’s on the back of a Dodgers jersey to just any game. It is also not something one wears to neighborhood barbeques, bar mitzvahs, weddings or funerals. Wearing the jersey is a one day a year sort of thing.

I’ll discuss my aversion to classic jerseys made historically inaccurate when they include player names, in another post.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 2; Other Experiences: 1; Total Stops: 3

Florida – Miami and Tampa, April 19th – 21st

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/ Getty Images

Sunny Florida when it’s cold up north is a nice idea, no? I have always been intrigued by Marlins Park. It’s got touches of Miami’s Art Deco, a big fish tank and the “sculpture” in the outfield. There are big glass windows that show the Miami skyline. I’m looking forward to going.

On the other hand, “The Trop” in St. Petersburg is supposed to be, hand’s down” the ugliest stadium in baseball. When compared to Marlins Park, it is quite the juxtaposition.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 4; Other Experiences: 1; Total Stops: 5

Toronto – April 26th – April 28th

My lovely wife, Marcy and I, love Canada. We’ll make it a long romantic weekend and see the A’s play the Jays on Saturday night.

Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON
www.ballparksofbaseball.com

I wanted to stay in a room that overlooked the field. However, they were too expensive, and I believe sold out when I reserved the rooms in October.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 5; Other Experiences: 1; Total Stops: 6

Mexico and Southern California – May 1st – 8th

This will be my first long trip. While I’ve been to Dodger Stadium, I’m looking forward to seeing the Angels and Padre’s parks. I especially want to see the warehouse in the left field of Petco Park.

Mike Trout
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Additionally, seeing the Angels means seeing the great Mike Trout. Since I live in the east, don’t subscribe to MLB TV, and like to sleep, I don’t see him that much. However, I hear tell that he is the greatest player of his generation so I plan to see the Angels as many times as I can. To that point, there are three games with the Angels on this leg of the journey.

It’s also my first of two international trips with two games in Monterrey, Mexico. I’ll also be in London to see the Red Sox and Yankees exhibit their rivalry in July. I’m sensing that the Mexicans will understand the game better than the English.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 8; Other Experiences: 2; Total Stops 10

Also three possible Mike Trout sightings!

Atlanta and Texas – May 17th – 21st

I’m going to thread the “climatic needle.” so to speak. It will be mid-May, and I’m still thinking I need to stay warm by traveling south. However, I also get to see Atlanta and the two Texas teams before the summer heat becomes unbearable.

Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, TX
www.ballparksofbaseball.com

I’ll see the Braves first then fly to Dallas for two games at Globe Life Park where the Rangers play. Two games? Yes, I need to wait until the Astros are home on Monday – they are away over the weekend. Also, I like spending more than one day in a stadium when I can. It gives me a better feeling about the place. It’s a relatively short drive see the Astros at Minute Maid Park. I’ll drive back to Dallas and fly home the next morning.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 11; Other Experiences: 2; Total Stops 13

Baltimore – May 28th – 29th

Originally, I had planned to see Philadelphia, Baltimore, and D.C. during this week. I added D.C. for Opening Day and Philadelphia for the Jackie Robinson Remembrance. So I only need to see Baltimore’s Camden Yards to complete my mid-Atlantic trifecta.

Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD
www.pixabay.com

I shouldn’t say, “need to see” since Camden Yards is a pleasure to visit. Significantly, it is the first of the modern retro ballparks. I’ve been there a few times and love it. This time, I’d like to spend a little time on Eutaw Street between the outfield and the famous warehouse. While doing so, I may be able to try Boog Powell’s Barbecue, which I have always wanted to do. I’d also like to check out the surrounding neighborhood and Babe Ruth’s birthplace. I may be able to do that the day after the game before I fly home in the afternoon.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 12; Other Experiences: 2; Total Stops 14

Cooperstown Dreams Park – June 13th – 16th

In addition to Canada, Marcy and I love Cooperstown and have been there many times over the years. We’ll go down for a few days to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary and have a few nice dinners.

Otesaga Resort Hotel Veranda overlooking Lake Otsego
www.otesaga.com

We usually stay at one of the many, charming and quaint bed and breakfasts in town. This time I wanted to stay where the Hall of Famers stay during induction weekend and made reservations at The Otesaga Resort Hotel where we have never stayed. Yes, this is the hotel with the big beautiful veranda overlooking beautiful Lake Otsego where the players relax. We have had afternoon drinks there on other trips. Once you sit down, you never want to leave.

We have two things to see: the Hall of Fame and Cooperstown Dream Park to watch that week’s youth tournament.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 12; Other Experiences: 3; Total Stops: 15

Midwest to London and Back – June 20th – July 4th

I’m tired just thinking about this trip and happy I have 20 days to rest up for it. Over the two weeks, I will travel through the Midwest, then to London and finally to New York City.

London, England
www.pixabay.com

Why do so much at one time?

Albert Pujols
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Timing: The College World Series and the Red Sox vs. Yankees are within the same week. As I said, I plan to immerse myself in the game and experience it all. I had to find a way to do both. Additionally, the College World Series is about a week after Albert Pujols makes his first visit back to St. Louis. I can’t miss that.
  • Geography: St. Louis is close to Kansas City. The Negro League Museum is in Kansas City, and so are the Royals. Kansas City is a four-hour drive to the Field of Dreams location – “Is this Heaven?2 Dyersville, Iowa is only a few hours to Omaha and the College World Series. New York is on the way home, and the Yankees are playing the Mets at Citi Field.

It will be a hectic couple of weeks – but possibly the most enjoyable, as well.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 15; Other Experiences: 7; Total Stops 22 – Halfway to 42!

Not to mention my 4th possible Mike Trout sighting in St. Louis.

All-Star Game & Home Run Derby – July 8th and 9th

The 8th and 9th aren’t on the weekend, but I can leave my house early on Monday the 8th and be in Cleveland in time for the Home Run Derby. I can stay for the game on the 9th and drive home on the 10th.

www.mlb.com

I’ve already purchased tickets – they were so expensive that I just got Standing Room Only. My opinion, the pomp and circumstance tend to be more exciting than the game. Additionally, the game can be long. I don’t mind leaving early when my feet wear out. I’ll see how long I can handle the Home Run Derby.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 15; Other Experiences: 8; Total Stops 23

Since Mike Trout is a perennial All-Star my 6th possible Mike Trout sighting.

Wrigley and the Upper Midwest – July 16th – 24th

After a week off I see the Twins, Cubs, White Sox and Brewers. Of course, I am looking forward to visiting Target Field in Minneapolis, and Miller Field in Milwaukee seems cool. I’m especially interested in the Bob Uecker Statues and good old Wisconsin Brats at Miller Park.

Wrigley Field
Licensed via Adobe Stock

However, the highlight of the trip is definitely Wrigley Field! In my 60 years on this planet, I’ve never been and consider it a bit of a moral failing. Now I will get to experience “The friendly confines,” day baseball and the ivy. To do it right, I’m there all weekend. I want to do a tour on the Cubs off day when I arrive in Chicago on Thursday. Then, I’ll spend a couple of days in the stadium and another on one of the rooftops across the street.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 19; Other Experiences: 8; Total Stops: 27

Yankee Stadium – August 2nd – 4th

This was to be my Red Sox vs. Yankees weekend. Where I experienced the entire series. However, I’m cutting costs and only going on Saturday and Sunday.

Yankee Stadium
www.pixabay.com

Of all the scheduled stadium visits, this is the one that I’m least excited about. Even though, it’s an easy trip, a short non-stop flight to the city I’m just not excited. There is not much more to say. It’s the crosstown rival Yankees playing in a stadium that I feel should never have been built. Additionally, many feel that the new Stadium is very austere. I’ve been there once, and I can’t argue with them.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 20; Other Experiences: 8; Total Stops: 28

Fenway Park – August 10th – 11th

I’m more excited about Fenway Park! It’s one of my favorites. I love the green monster, the street meat, the Citgo sign – you name it, I simply love Family.

www.pixabay.com

With that said, I had planned for a three day weekend watching the Bosox play the Angels and cut back to just Saturday and Sunday to save money. Larry and his family will join on Saturday and Larry, and I will go alone on Sunday.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 21; Other Experiences: 8; Total Stops: 29

Another two more possible Mike Trout sightings for a total of eight for the season.

Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh – August 15th – 19th

I get a couple of days off before I drive to Cleveland to start my little foray into Ohio, Kentucky (yes Kentucky) and Pennsylvania. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been to Progressive Field many times, and it has a warm spot in my heart. I’ve never been to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I’ve only been to PNC in Pittsburgh once, but believe it rivals AT&T in San Francisco as the best.

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
www.sluggermuseum.com

I’m going to take a side trip to Louisville, which is less than two hours from Cincinnati. It’s a Friday with no games for me to attend and I want to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. I’d also like to see a Bourbon distillery but will try to stay focused on baseball. After the visit, I will then drive three hours to Columbus for the night. If the Clippers are in town that night, I may catch the game. Going to the game seems like the appropriate thing to do. True to my goals for the summer, while it’s a little manic, if I am in a city and there is baseball, I should go!

I’ll make the short drive to Pittsburgh the next morning to see the Pirates’ afternoon game against the Cubs. Before I drive home, I want to find the site of Bill Mazeroski’s World Series winning home run. Home plate is on display at the University of Pittsburgh campus; however, it is only “near” the actual location. I understand the exact location is in the women’s room a few feet away.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 24; Other Experiences: 9; Total Stops: 33

Little League World Series August 24th and 25th

I get a week off to recoup, rest and write. Then on Saturday, I will drive about four hours, to Westmoreland, PA. to see the Little League World Series. I should be able to see the last two games. The atmosphere seems great. I want to sit on the bluff behind the outfield for one of the games.

www.sportingnews.com

Score: MLB Stadiums: 24; Other Experiences: 10; Total Stops: 34

Seattle, Northern California, Colorado, Arizona and Detroit September 13th through 27th

My last regular season trip of the year….

Similar to my two-week trek across the Midwest with a stop in London, the geography makes the stops on this leg, necessary.

AT&T Stadium
Licensed via Adobe Stock

The trak starts with a long flight to Seattle to see the White Sox play the Mariners at Safeco. However, it’s just two hours to San Francisco where I can see AT&T and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. I’ll see two games in one of my favorite ballparks while watching the Giants and looking out over the bay. The second game on Sunday is needed because the A’s won’t be home until Monday. Then I take a short flight to Denver for a game at Coors Field and another short flight to see the Diamondbacks.

After a few days visiting my youngest brother, I can end my regular season with a few days in Detroit visiting my sister and in-laws. My sister and I will celebrate the end of the regular season and a significant milestone in my quest at a game in Comerica before I fly home.

Score: MLB Stadiums: 30; Other Experiences: 10; Total Stops: 40

Post Season – October

www.nj.com

Post Season will be consist of two (possibly three) events:

The Arizona Fall League was created in 1992 and allows the top AA and AAA talent to continue to develop their skills. There are six teams and thus six sites all around Phoenix. I’m planning to be there for four days, hopping from stadium to stadium as I like to watch the teams play.

The League Championships are a bit hard to plan for – how many games are needed, where will they be, etc.? For budgetary reasons, I may not go. However, it’s important to note that the playoffs are not on my list of requirements, and I don’t feel a real void if I don’t go. Of course, if the Metsies are in the championship, I will be there.

Conversely, my goal has always been to go to all the World Series Games but will decide when I get closer if I do so. Due to my budget, I may focus on games four through seven. Either way, I want to be at the final game. I usually hope for seven game World Series, as I need the season to be extended as long as possible. In this case, if I decide to go to all the games, my wallet may be wishing that the Series ends after four games.

Trip of a lifetime – don’t you think?

Score: MLB Stadiums: 30; Other Experiences: 12; Total Stops: 42!!

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  1.  Joni Mitchell, “Refuge of the Roads” © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing 
  2.  Field of Dreams 

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