I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July. I know I did.
The celebration of our country’s birth is always a special day for my family. It’s a great time to grill out even with the excessive heat we’ve all been dealing with lately.
Anyway, having just returned from a family vacation in Cocoa Beach, Fla. – where it was pretty darn hot as well – I wanted to share that as we drove to and from the Sunshine State my thoughts turned to baseball. The plan on the way down was to take in an Atlanta Braves game in their new stadium (SunTrust Park), but when we arrived in Atlanta, it was storming like crazy so we opted to not stop in order to get further down the road. We had been to Turner Field a few years ago and wanted to check out the Braves’ new home.
You see, in 2007 my family and I began a journey of going to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and just last year we made that journey complete with a trip to Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Of course, we began with our own hometown Cincinnati Reds and Great American Ball Park. Then we made some day trips to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis before having to start grouping a few together.
You might think planning a summer vacation around three stadium visits would be difficult, but it really turned out not to be that hard. We obviously had some luck in the fact that at the time of year we wanted to go to these places the teams’ schedules worked out so they were playing at home and not on the road. There was a time or two where the place we had to stay was more centrally located to the stadiums so we may have had a bit longer drive to the games, but it wasn’t too much out of the way.
I think the farthest we ever stayed from a stadium was three hours and that was for the Miami Marlins.
It has been quite an experience these last 10-plus years believe me. Not only have we been to every one of the stadiums, we saw most of the country at the same time. We planned our summer vacations every year with the specific purpose of being able to get to two or three stadiums in a week’s time. And we drove to each one except for San Francisco. We didn’t have enough time for that one so we flew there and back.
As I said, we also saw much of the country like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We also visited many large cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, New York and Washington D.C.
But what struck me the most about our 10-year excursion after it was complete was the fact that not only did we see all these places and do so many things, but my wife and I watched our two sons grow up right before our eyes. They were 8 and 5 when we started going to all the stadiums. Now the oldest is 19 and just finished his freshman year of college. Though he will always have a roof over his head at our home, he will not likely stay for long as he continues to grow older and get his own life off the ground. Our youngest is now 16 and will be a junior in high school this year. He will be going off to college before we know it.
I got the idea for visiting all the stadiums from a friend because he did it with his son. I am so grateful my family agreed to make this journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been a true eye-opening experience for all of us. As I continue to tell you more about who I am in the coming days, I will share more specific details on our trips later on.
Thanks for the welcome
Since my first column where I introduced myself, I have received several phone calls and emails welcoming me to the newspaper. I’ve also had a few people welcome me in person when I’ve been out at an event, so to all of you I say thank you.
As summer winds down and the high school sports season gears up, I’m certain I will meet many more of you and I look forward to that.
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.