I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days from April 6th to 28th!
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Original Print of the book was June 2011
Book Excerpt writeup By Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth
“The Book Excerpt for The Great American Ball Park. As it turned out I would have been disqualified for a dangerous driving ticket had I kept up with this streak attempt anyway. During this game it was crazy because a rain delay in my favor saved the day. It was also when I realized doing interviews might actually impede a streak.”
Th e Great American Ball Park
It felt wrong from the time I made it to the Philadelphia Airport. It was a tough shuttle ride from the parking lot to arrive at a full security checkpoint-even at an early time of a 5:45 AM flight. I had flown out of PHL before-just never the dreaded ‘F’ gate. Th e fact you have to wait in yet another line for a shuttle to the gate is brutal. Th is caused me even more panic. I had to catch that flight to Indianapolis on time to make it to Cincinnati on time. One of the things I learned when booking all of these flights was that Cincy’s Int’l Airport (CVG) completely rips you off for fares to and from its fine city. I was at an all time frustration when I became the last person on the shuttle—and virtually sprinted to the jet-way to make it 2 seconds before they closed the security door for my Us Airways Flight from Philly.
Landing at Indianapolis Airport I knew once again that it was going to be a long day. I first had booked this trip that did not include a record chase—rather I was going to see all 30 Major League Teams—and the 1st 48 States in 45 days. So this date included a matinée game in Cincinnati—then a massive drive to the Alabama border before driving back to Memphis Airport by way of Mississippi State—and by taking the bridge that takes you into West Memphis Arkansas—before taking a u-turn in order to head back to Memphis Airport. This would be a challenge.
I was surprised how fast I received my rental car in Indianapolis—I was to start driving on the highway 74-E. Wouldn’t you know there was a massive traffic accident grid-locking the highway for hours on the 4th of July near Greensburg, Indiana, so for that reason alone I decided to drive up the Hwy-70 —and then onto Hwy 75-South from there as I could make up some time driving the extra distance it would take with the detour. It was going to be challenging but I had done the trip down I-70 two times in the last eighteen months so I was confident in driving that way. I did my radio interview on the road and was making great time on the highway. I was on course to make this game after all. Despite it being a holiday, the roads were not that bad. I know there was probably a faster way to make it to the game-but I knew this way better. The interview lasted ten minutes and I hung up my phone before I started looking for my button on the camera that broke off in the Mall Of America-so much so that I begun swerving on the highway near Eaton, Ohio, then there were police sirens in the background. Good lord!
The officer was a behemoth at well over 6 ft. 5 and weighed over 250 pounds would be my guess. “License and registration please sir?”
I was mad at myself for not waiting till I arrived at the park. It was best to be as polite as I could be-I needed for this to be a quick ticket. I was wearing shorts and a brown rugby shirt with sandals and no socks. I watched the clouds roll in almost simultaneously as being pulled over and it rained hard. The officer came back to the car, “son you need to step into the back of the police vehicle?”
“Wow, officer is that necessary?” At this point I was so tired from the first few days I was oblivious to this being some sort of safety measure.
“No, you are from Canada and I need to take some more details from you and there is no room in the front passenger seat.” Rain was pelting off my hat as I made my way to the police car. I was relieved he knew that I swerved because I was looking for something as opposed to drunk driving or something. “Officer, I am actually driving to Cincinnati for the game as part of a record streak to see all the major league games in the least amount of days, I was stupidly looking for a piece to my camera, that is why I swerved. Is there any way to pay this thing immediately so it can be done faster, I mean I was at fault I know I was wrong?”
“Sir, this will only take a minute,” he replied nicely.
Yeah right, it took 20 minutes. I was behind schedule and hoarding a wreck-less driving ticket worth a couple hundred dollars. I was finished for making first pitch, I hit major traffic coming down the 75-S, and knew I would not make it to Cincinnati until at least after 1:30 PM-and the game was to start at 12:35 PM local time. Back a few hours ago I was singing the praises of driving a ‘Dodge Charger’ with a Satellite Radio. Now I still held hope of maybe the game would be delayed for rain or something. The announcers on the radio had said the weather was okay and they were starting on time. I was still 40 minutes outside the city!
“Were back with opening pitch,” the man said from the radio.
“Well, that just completely blows,” was my response.
I had not even contemplated missing this game. I was going to have to restart the streak on July.9th for my 2nd attempt. I always had that in my back pocket should I need it. I knew this might be the case, it was my belief that it would happen through a collection of double header misses—and not because of traffic and cops. It would serve as another reminder of things not to do in the future—Fourth of July travel. This was always tough when scheduling as Cincinnati had limited home games that month and I needed Atlanta the next day.
The announcer microphone was back on the radio, “well folks, it seems we are going to be delayed for a few hours as we are being ambushed by some rain now and they have put the tarp on the field. The weather reports say it will clear up so tentatively it looks to start about 2 PM.”
“Yeeeeesssss!!!!” I screamed. I still was going to be focused in on getting there. I drove the car nicely through the rest of the drive and parked at the closest spot to the entrance on Pete Rose Way—and ran into the park. I was saved by a rain delay—I never thought I would benefit from such an event. I was good to resume the streak.I met some really nice people in the stands once I walked up to my seats. I ate two hot dogs as fast as I could because I was starving.
I then announced my name and what I was doing—since the game was about to start (and there were no ushers present), I had fellow fans sign my log sheet that I was there for 1st and last pitch. I was happy when Ken Griffey Jr. came up and smashed a ball over the right field fence, causing a fireworks blast from the boat seats. The Great American Ballpark is one of the best parks in the majors for scenery outside the yard. You get a close personal view of the Ohio River. The park also features the ‘Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame” that is directly adjacent to the park—great place to check out the 1st Major League Baseball Club. Particularly if you are a Pete Rose fan, you have to visit this Museum. Pete Rose is nowhere to be found at Great American because of his lifetime ban—but his career is nicely chronicled inside the doors of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. The concourses at Great American are spacious, clean and the workers there off er the nicest hospitality. There is not a bad seat in the place. Cincinnati’s fans are amongst the smartest in baseball and have been faithful to the team’s struggles of late.
I was fortunate to sit in the right field bleachers during my first visit and watched Ken Griffey Jr. talk to all the fans throughout the game. They have 3 mascots still in use that walk the field in:‘Gapper,’ ‘Mr. Redlegs’ and of course ‘Rosie Red,’ a truly great experience for the kids. The fireworks display on Friday nights in the summer are incredible against the back drop of the Ohio River. I was happy to have the game end in 2 hours and 20 Minutes in real length— and nearly four hours with the rain delay to start the game. Th e Reds won 3-0 behind a brilliant pitching job of Bronson Arroyo. After the game I was treated to a drive of a lifetime, and while I never made it to the State of Mississippi because of rainy weather and time concerns——I highly endorse taking a long drive south through the State of Tennessee on the Fourth of July. I watched four straight hours of fireworks as I drove south past the city of Nashville, and all the way to the Alabama border.
It was an eleven hour drive I accomplished before driving the car rental back to Memphis Airport. It was so dark when I returned the car rental I left my camera in the car by accident. I actually phoned ‘National Car Rental’ from the airplane, and they made arrangements to send the camera FED-EX to my brother’s house that very day. It would be there when I returned the following day. I had escaped a major travel day of adjustments. It was only three days into the trip and I loved the constant adrenaline rush. I routinely called my family and friends back West-from the Eastern
Cities-in order to get revved up for the games. So I wouldn’t miss flights, or over sleep alarms, I had many friends text me or call me as a precaution. I was fortunate to have friends from newspapers that are up at all hours in the night—to have helped me with this. I boarded a Memphis plane onward to Atlanta for my first visit to Turner Field.