by Mike McCann
Mike McCann, age 24, has been a baseball fan as long as he can remember. He has a goal to visit every major and minor league baseball stadium. This regularly-appearing column will follow the progress of "Bunko" and his quest.
If I could at one point in my life say that I've been to a game in every city that currently has a major or minor league baseball team, I would feel that my quest has been accomplished. Currently, that number stands at 190...and I'm at number 23. It's always good to set your goals high, right?
A big part of my quest is taking road trips. It's much easier to set up than you might think. The biggest problem that I always have is finding people to attend games with me. I suppose that I could go by myself, but it just isn't the same. It is definitely better to be at a baseball game with somebody who you can make comments to...someone to discuss what is going on with the game or to listen to random trivial facts about the stadium or players. Well, maybe the trivia thing is just me, but I not going to talk to myself!
To give an example of how little effort it takes, I'll talk about my last little trip. Whenever I have a day off from work, I look at the schedules of teams in the vicinity. Usually I look at Sunday games because it allows for longer day trips, although it depends on how far you are willing to go in one day (for me it's about 200 miles).
First things first: I need to find somebody to go with. It's Tuesday, and I find out that my girlfriend, Steph, doesn't have to work on Sunday. She tells me that she willing to go with me from here in the Philadelphia area to New Britain, CT (where I have never been) for a Rock Cats game. That's almost a four hour trip, but it isn't enough to scare me off. On Wednesday, I call the Rock Cats to confirm that tickets are still available for the 2:05 game. (Mid-afternoon starts are always good since I don't have to leave early in the morning and I wouldn't get home so late that I would need to miss work on Monday.) I am informed that they are playing a doubleheader, which starts at 1:05. Now that's enough to scare me off. Back to the drawing board.
I see that another possibility was a game in Binghamton, NY. I was able to go to a game there in 1996, but Sunday is supposed to be a nice day, and I want to go for a fun drive. Steph says that she is willing to make the trek up there as well. It is now Thursday, so I call the Binghamton Mets front office to find out if I can get tickets at the gate for the 1:30 game. They tell me that I will have no problem getting tickets. (I rarely buy tickets in advance because I never know when an unforeseen event will arise, like rain.)
Sunday rolls around and we leave around 9:30 for the game in Binghamton. It takes a little over three hours to get there. We stop for lunch on the way and arrive at the stadium around 1:10. At the ticket window I ask for the best seats that they have. I never imagined that I would get the seats that we did! Picture an aisle in the stands that is aligned with home plate and the pitcher's mound. We have seats 3 and 4 offset from that aisle in the second row. We buy tickets twenty minutes before the game starts and get seats like that. Amazing.
In the bottom of the first, Binghamton scores three runs. Norwich counters with seven runs in the next frame. Binghamton comes back with six more in the bottom of the second. The score is 9-7 after two innings—I am thinking that we are definitely in for a long game. However, the game settles down a bit from there and ends with a final score of Binghamton 10, Norwich 7. Overall, a really good game to watch. More errors than I like to see, but I will let that slide this time. One of the standout moments of the game was when a foul ball shot into screen in front of us. I couldn't help but flinch—definitely a reminder of where we were sitting.
We stop for dinner on the way back and get home around 8:30. Definitely a great day in my mind—a beautiful day for a drive and a baseball game. I didn't need to plan much in advance, either, though I always call to confirm ticket availability and game time. Depending on where you are, you won't need to drive quite as far. I consider myself lucky to live in an area where there are so many teams within a close proximity. I have been able to visit many of them, but there are still a few that I need to cross off my list. I'll do my best to keep you informed of my travels.
Hope you are able to get out to a game yourself soon...
In his spare time, Mike works as an engineer for Boeing in Philadelphia. He is also going for his Master's degree, part-time, in electrical engineering at the University of Delaware.
Mike is always looking for people to attend baseball games with him, so if you are interested, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Bunko's quest to visit every major and minor league stadium: http://minorleaguesource.com/baseball.html
Visit Mike McCann's minor league history Web page: http://minorleaguesource.com/minor.html