2008 Record GWR Attempts

2008 Trip where I saw 41 MLB Games in 37 Days

2008 Trip where I saw 41 MLB Games in 37 Days.

INTRODUCTION

“I sat in the Houston International Airport awaiting the flight that would take me to the last baseball double header in Arlington Texas.  I had felt a huge sense of accomplishment in arriving on time for this 5:15 PM departure.  Still I had thought this would be a tight squeeze from the moment I booked and purchased the flight.

I was lucky the Houston Astros game had wound up in the two hour and forty-five minute window I needed—with them beating the New York Mets.

During a hot and humid day indoors, I watched with curious energy as the last out was recorded, I then raced to the corner of Crawford and Congress—where my sedan driver was in his car, gas running and ready to head out to the airport.

I had beaten the general attendance out of the game because I had positioned myself near the exit while watching the final inning.  The game was close enough to be in question so people were not leaving early.

My driver had been the same driver I called on the previous month when I made my first visit to Houston.  Ironically, it was the also the third day of the month, and was also a day game, except for this game was on a weekend, and that game was on a Thursday.

Traffic was light on that Sunday, and I took a look at my boarding pass that I had printed out in the airport earlier that morning when I had arrived from

Minnesota.  I then looked at my remnants of a black travel bag that had already travelled Forty-Thousand Miles through the journey.

The bag used to be heavier, but I started throwing things out towards the end of my trip to make it lighter.  I also had a black briefcase which had been the best ally to travel with since it could double as a place for extra clothing—along with carrying schedules, game tickets, hotel reservations, car reservations, maps and electronics for my equipment to document the evidence of this streak.

I was dressed in shorts that had the colors of the British Flag, red white and blue.  I was also wearing my black number 23-‘Don Mattingly New York Yankee t-shirt Jersey, I also had sandals on, and a black baseball cap that was severely weathered from being to Twenty-Eight different ballparks in the last Twenty Six days.

My stomach was full of pizza I had eaten at the baseball game.  At this point of the trip I knew I had gained about thirty five pounds in the 5 weeks since I left home.  I shot from One Hundred and Eighty-Five pounds to Two-hundred and Twenty.  I was going to work that off when I returned home to Canada.  Another thing to be gone was the beard dangling from my face that had never been so long in my life.

Heading up Highway Fifty-Nine up North, I started to see clouds in the distance, as we approached the airport more, it was apparent we were going to the eye of a rainstorm.  I felt a little uneasy as I paid the driver and cleared through security, all the while I was looking through the glass of the airport to monitor the weather towards my pending gate.

It was 4:15 PM in the afternoon.  My driver had made good time in reaching the airport from ‘Minute Maid Park’ in twenty-five minutes, and I made it through security in only a few minutes as well.

Everything felt ominous from the time I reached the area of the boarding jet way for this scheduled flight.  Most notably, there was no sign of a plane.  As rain continued gaining momentum outside the gate, I talked with an airline agent and she told me a plane was supposed to be coming in—and was only late by ten minutes.  According to her, we would be able to make the set departure time.

I took a seat after buying a Coke, (another habit I was going to stop after the trip was finished), and began watching ‘CNN’.  There was yet another debate going on with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic race.

Having been on forty plus flights in a month, I was well versed in every avenue of this given political race.  All the airport TV monitors carried ‘CNN’ as the only channel.

Another gust of wind, followed by a heavy thunderclap, and the rain came feverishly to the ground outside the airport.  The lights momentarily flickered throughout the entire inside of the airport.  I became worried.  No sooner then two minutes later the clock for the impending flight to Dallas Fort Worth changed by thirty minutes ahead.

This caused me to bury my head into my hands.  Already if the flight was on time I needed a perfect flight, timely sedan pick up in Dallas, and to have traffic not be so bad in Dallas, so I could run go through the turnstiles at ‘The Ball Park In Arlington’, for the first pitch.  First pitch was five minutes after seven.  My map told me it was about eleven miles of distance to cover, and could take thirty-five minutes in traffic to get there.

I called my buddy Justin in Canada, I asked for the weather report in Dallas for the game.  My thought was that, “If it is raining here it may be raining there, and that could cause a rain-delay, then I might be able to make the first pitch still.”  He confirmed it was raining in Dallas and that it loomed in the forecast pretty heavy for the next few hours but was supposed to clear up after that.

At this point I had a little bit of optimism, the very same thing had happened to me in Cincinnati the previous month.  There was a big traffic accident on the Seventy-One Highway South on the ‘Fourth of July’ heading from Indianapolis Airport to ‘The Great American Ball Park’.  The start of the game was delayed, and I made it there on time to qualify for the game.

I drank my beverage and was ready to call my sedan driver in Dallas to go over the game plan after the flight time change.  I then noticed that not only was there not a plane in my gate yet, but that I had not even seen a plane in any of the other dozen gates from the time I had arrived there.

From that instant, my flight to Dallas, (that had already been delayed by thirty minutes)—jumped from one gate—all the way to other side of the airport gate and the time changed to 7:00 PM.  I swore out loud.

I swore so loud that about fifty people looked in my direction with angst.  It was a natural reaction without any time to even think about it. It was not the first time in the trip I had been caught swearing either, and it would not be the last.  The next few times I swore I managed to do it under my breath.  I ran to the bathroom.  It was an excruciating few minutes.

After all the chasing I had done, radio interviews, newspaper articles that had been written about the streak in pursuit for charity, months of planning, years of saving up money, dedication to learning the craft of the stadium chase, having been on the road for Thirty-Five days straight, traveling on planes, trains, automobiles, public transit, losing sleep entirely throughout the process, all culminating in the chance to break the record—which was now officially over and it was not my fault.  A spill over, rogue Gail storm, left over from some of the worst Hurricane season in the lower ‘Southern Belt Area” of the summer had wreaked enough havoc to ground and/or re-route planes to nearby airports in Mobil and Gulfport.

All I could do was tie the record that was stated by the fine people at “The Guinness Book of World Records.”  The given streak chase was:  “The Fastest to See All 30 Major League Baseball Parks.”  The record stood at Thirty-games in Twenty-nine days, although I had seen articles and websites of a couple of Canadians who had accomplished the feat in ‘Twenty-Eight’ days.

My official best I could do was-Thirty-Games in Twenty-Nine days now. During those brief moments I knew that I might not even be able to tie the ‘World Record’ should “GWR” have given the ‘Canadians’ the new record.  I was mad.

I temporarily wished that I had never tried for the record knowing that I had my scheduled holiday always with the three days off for the All-star break.

I had initially not planned to shoot for the record when I booked my vacation.  My original version of the six week trip was to see all the parks over the course of six weeks.  The break was in week number three.  During a day of planning online, I decided to see what the world record was for seeing all the parks.  That is when I saw the thirty games in twenty-eight days record website.  It took me two weeks of looking at Baseball’s schedule to see if I could try for the record even with the three day penalty.  There were going to be some costs incurred for altering some of my already purchased schedule.  I was willing to live with that.  Besides, I could re-sell some of my baseball tickets.  It was only April still, two months before the whole chase started.

The skinny of it all-was that any record I submitted would have the three days of July 14-16/2008 as a blank.  To make up the necessary games I was going to need six successful double headers—to bring in a thirty games in twenty-seven days streak.  I had a Thirty-games-in Twenty-Six games bid scheduled.  With some more diligent planning, I even was able to have a re-set attempt on July.9th, some ten days into the first bid attempt, should the streak go awry to begin with.  I had exercised that chance, hit on five out of six double headers with this second streak attempt, with the seventh chance being foiled due to this rain.

There was another game I missed when a Toronto bound flight was delayed from O’Hare International Airport for a day game.

Normally I would have rented a car from Chicago to drive to Cleveland to make up the only doubleheader game that I missed—except I was to meet my mom in Toronto for that game—and she was already there having flown in from Montreal.  I flew to Canada instead and took a zero for the day.  This all led up to streak now sitting at Twenty-Seven games in Twenty-Six days.  The last three-games would be in Texas, Toronto and Chicago.

After calling my step-mom Nancy in Canada, I waited for my delayed flight to Texas, and thought about Jim McLaren’s dedication to his life, and how I should not ever ‘give up’ even when you are truly feeling like crap.

Besides, the way it worked out, I was going to visit the last baseball park in my stadiums list!  I had been to several of the other parks multiple times each already but never to Arlington.  It was kind of nice the way it was going to work out.  It was my salvation in an otherwise horrendous day of emotions.-(Little did I know at that point, I was going to have another shot at the record in the summer of 2009!)  To show you where I went from this time, I must show you were this all originated from back on another rainy day in 2005.

2005

“Back in 2005 I was listening to the Jim Rome Show in my hometown of White Rock B.C., when he had a special motivational guest speaker come on named Jim Maclaren (1965-2010)www.jimmaclaren.com.  

I often thought I had a difficult life at that point until I heard his story. Jim was an all-American guy in the mid-80s, who had played football in college and aspired to make it in Hollywood. He stood 6-foot-5 and weighed almost 300 lbs. He had life by the tail, until he was riding his bike in New York City and a bus hit his bicycle head on and knocked him off into the air.
Jim was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital and doctors were shocked when a while later he came back to life. His accident did not come without any permanent damage as one of his legs was amputated. He now had some serious obstacles to overcome. Since Jim was a great athlete, he started riding a bike and spending time in the pool.
His new will was to test his physical limits, despite his leg. For eight years he routinely beat able-bodied competitors in triathlons and other tests of physical endurance. In an Ironman contest in California in 1993 he was riding his bike in a competition when he heard screams in the distance. A van had been swerving and headed for him without any warning. Jim was flung from the van and smashed into a street sign far from the point of impact. This time he also lived but he had to face another fact, he was left a quadriplegic. Jim struggled with this news and sunk into a depression that caused him to have several inner battles to which he fought drugs, thoughts of suicide and most of all loneliness.
At a turning point in his life he decided to live his life to the fullest despite all the things physically that were working against him. Jim changed his entire outlook on life and found a deep inner peace with himself and knew he was ready to live his life.

He would spend hours rehabilitating his injuries and willed his own self to walk in a pool and regained some use in his arms. Doctors marveled at Jim’s unwillingness to give up. Soon Jim realized that he had lots of advice to give to others because he had been at the bottom of everything life has to offer in the negative fashion and risen to live a normal life.
Normal for Jim is doing thing that others routinely take for granted like tying up shoe laces, moving across a room, doing the dishes after a meal. Jim has touched so many people with his tale of courage to live. If you ask him, he will tell you that, “he has been given a gift with the life he has led, for he has seen the light in what makes him happy.” He would not change any of it for anything.
Hearing this story I pulled over to the side of the road and took some personal inventory of my own life. I was nearly in tears hearing his story and inspired to achieve things in my life from that point forward. I wrote down all the goals I wanted to achieve that day to make me happy. One of them was to write the two novels I had always procrastinated about as an adult. I did that and had them both published in 2008 and have third one is in circulation now with this book. The other goals were to set foot in all 50 States, (I completed this in 2010) and the last goal was see all the Major League Baseball stadiums in my life which I accomplished by August of ‘08.   At the original point of the change though, it took some re-tooling my schedule. I was going to have to work harder, smarter and focus to realize this dream.
It had not been my fault I was in such bad financial shape.  My wife Stella had Tourette’s Syndrome—and was on government assistance that had been cut off the moment we were married in 2002.  It was a most devastating bad turn of events.  My jobs were delivering newspaper and pizza for about sixty hours a week.  I should have had enough money to pay the bills with what I made, but a bad run of car repairs for years upon years had sunk us to the level we were at.  The worst part was that we could not live in an apartment, because of her involuntary ticks had caused a disturbance in every building we lived in—enough to force five moves in five years.

Finally I had us situated in a secluded house that was costly in rent, but I could afford it if I could just clear the credit card debt.

After promising myself changes to come after the Jim McLaren interview, I also added an additional thirty hours of work at a week at a gas station.  This brought my weekly work total up to ninety hours.  The extra money was actually helping me to balance my expenses and even save a few dollars.  Changes were still coming, and I could not pay off my credit balance but it was satisfying to be making more money then spending now.

In June of Two-Thousand and Five I was burnt out from working ninety hours a week for six months straight.  However I arrived to my first vacation in six years.  The trip was easy, my wife and I would drive my repaired Nineteen Eighty One Mustang to Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, before returning home up Las Vegas to Nevada before California again.

We sat on the third base side at ‘Safeco Field.’ I felt an adrenaline rush hit my body as I stood up for the National Anthem.  The Mariners were playing the New York Mets.  It was my first Major League baseball game since 1996 when I saw the Montreal Expos play at ‘Olympic Stadium.’  I was really happy to watch the Mariners starting pitcher Jamie Moyer pitch to one of my favorite catchers of all time in Pat Borders.  They were both Forty-Two years old.  I was watching history as their cumulative age marked the oldest pitcher-catcher tandem ever in MLB.

Somehow throughout the whole game, I knew my life was about to change for the better.  I had been brought back to the game I loved.

It was my first road trip of baseball games.  Two days after the Seattle game, I watched the Oakland A’s play on Father’s day at ‘McAfee Coliseum’, the very next night I watched the San Francisco Giants play at then ‘Pacific Bell Park/now AT&T Park.’  During batting practice that day, Shawn Green of the Diamondbacks launched a baseball off the red brick past the right center field bleachers——and it promptly ricocheted right to my feet.  That was it, I was hooked.  No matter what it took I was going to come to baseball games every year if it killed me.  What an awesome few days.  I saw two of the best stadiums in baseball with Seattle and San Francisco’s parks.

I closed off the trip by seeing the Los Angeles Angels play at Angels Stadium, that game was followed up by a trip to ‘Petco Park’ to see the Padres play.

I returned from that trip having now seen six out of the thirty active ball parks.

I did declare bankruptcy in early 2006, but managed to sneak away to see two games at ‘Dodgers Stadium’ and ‘Yankee Stadium,’  (to bring the stadium count up to 8) along with a handful of games at ‘Safeco Field.’

I was still sitting at 8 Stadiums in early 2007-and wanted to see a few stadiums that year but it was all depending on how well the cars could perform.

My three cars had been good to me on repairs for years of 2005 and 2006.

With my debt being cleared off with bankruptcy in early 2006—I would be able to pay my bills with the extra money and have left over cash for traveling—provided I did not get blistered on car repairs like how it had happened to create such a financial mess before.

I had a momentary scare when the gas station closed in late 2006 and I was out of that job’s money, but I quickly replaced the earnings with a community based newspaper that I could pick my own hours.   While my pizza delivery job and major newspaper routes had been set on deadlines—and specific hours to work, the community based newspapers I could do whenever I had the time.

It was going to take a physical torque on my body to keep up with the ninety hour work week, but it was necessary to keep the savings up in order to take off a couple of weeks a year to baseball stadium chase.

March of Two Thousand and Seven provided more drama in a week then I wanted to deal with.  I had to sell the Eighty One Mustang because gasoline prices were at a record high.  I then used that money to sink into the Nineteen Eighty-Four Toyota Celica I owned, only to have the master chain break on the engine and render the car un-drive-able a few days after picking it up from the service garage.

This left me with one car that had already been through the gauntlet of hard city driving for all the seven years I had been a courier. That car was a Nineteen Ninety-One Chevy Cavalier.

I was worried about the car expenses killing any dream of baseball watching in the future should they start piling up again.

In an act of desperation, I resorted to bidding (via E-Bay) on another Ninety-One Chevrolet Cavalier in a town that was two hours south of Toronto.  I won the bid for a bargain.  The only problem was that I had to fly out East 3000 miles and drive it back across the country.  I knew this when bidding, so I planned on seeing some baseball games coming back on the trip.

My thought process at this time was: “At least if the thing breaks down en route back home I can have a baseball vacation out of it.”

I flew to Toronto first and drove a rental car down 2 hours to the remote town of Strathroy, Ontario where I took my used Cavalier car into a repair garage—to have the guy’s price out a repair job for servicing the car.

I planned this all along.  I figured it would take two to three days to fix whatever problems that car had with it, so in the meantime I would drive down to Cincinnati and Cleveland to knock them off the schedule of baseball stadiums left to see.  It was opening week of the 2007 Major League Season.

When the Cavalier was finished being repaired, I was going to also see ‘Wrigley Field’ and the ‘Metrodome’ on the way back to Vancouver, BC Canada.  This 4 game tour would bring me up to 12 parks.

It was only April though, and it was snowing all over the Eastern Seaboard jeopardizing the games I was going to watch.  I was cancelled out of the opening game in Cleveland before I took in a last minute hockey game in Columbus en route to Cincinnati.

I was able to see Ken Griffey Jr. play right field for the Cincinnati Reds at ‘The Great American Ballpark’ in near freezing weather despite a small snowfall.  It was so cold outside that day that when the game was over I went into the ‘Cincinnati Baseball Hall Of Fame’ just to warm up for a few hours.

The next day I drove back to Cleveland to watch a newly announced doubleheader between the Mariners and Indians.  When I showed up, the games were both cancelled because the stadium had a foot of snow surrounding it——I got the consolation prize of viewing the ‘Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame’. So then I drove the rental car back to Toronto—and met up with my brother for a Blue Jays game in Toronto.

  Memories came back to me of my first pro game ever returned as I entered ‘Skydome’.  It was my thirteenth birthday in Nineteen Eighty-Nine, the very first year of the existence of the retractable skyline roof in Toronto.

I talked with my oldest brother Trent about the rental car I had.  We were eating hot dogs and sitting in the bleachers level in the Five Hundred Deck on $2 opening Tuesday night.  It was the day after the opener.

“You drove the car rental Fifteen Hundred Miles in Four Days and had full insurance for the average of Fifty dollars a day?”  Trent asked as the sound system echoed from the latest theme song being played for Canadian Matt Stairs of the Toronto Blue Jays.  It was a wrestling song from the ‘WWE.’

“Yeah, that it is a pretty good price for a nice car like a Pontiac G6, that is almost as much as I pay per day to drive the crappy cars I have been driving,” I answered as I thought about my 3 cars some more.

“Doug, I have been renting cars for years now and have never heard of those rates in Canada.”

“I am going to investigate that when I get home, maybe I can work it out for the courier jobs.  I sure hope this car makes it all the way home without conking out.”

“You have guts brother.”

“The car should be fine, but this snow is something else.”  I was excited yet nervous about driving to Wrigley the next day.

“Did you hear about the Indians-Angels series being moved to Miller Park?”

“No, starting tomorrow?”

“All series,” Trent explained.

“I am going to buy a ticket for that game too.  Milwaukee is only a hundred miles away from Miller and the game is during the day in Chicago.”

“Dude, I don’t know if you are going to pull that off in this weather, the Ninety Four Highway gets pretty jammed in cold weather.”

“I got to try.  I am not going to see Miller Park this year if I don’t.”

Trent finished his food, “I am just saying you won’t see every pitch.”

“I don’t like that aspect but I will stay for the whole game in Chicago first.”

▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲

The game in Chicago was cancelled a few days later. I sat across the street from Wrigley Field flabbergasted.  I had come all this way and for the game to be called was crazy.  The car had made it thus far with all the new parts and accessories.  I was now well versed in the disappointment one faces in a stadium visit that is all dependent on the weather.

I wish all of the stadiums had roofs that day.  During the first few minutes after the notification, a local news camera interviewed some people outside the ballpark.  I made my way to the camera and explained how far I was from home to come to this historic park.  It was there where I would not give up on this dream.    During the interview I snapped. “I was going to ask for a refund for the ticket, but I just decided to risk my job and make my wife upset by changing the ticket to two days from now to see the ‘Reds’ play.”  Snow was pelting off my spring beige jacket as I said this.  It was a true statement.  I was supposed to have gone to Minnesota after the Milwaukee game that night.  A few days later I was to be home and back at work.  It was a calculated risk too, it may have kept snowing the whole time till that game and then I would have nothing to show for the trip to Chicago.

It was the first sign of things to go my way.  My brother was right about the traffic to Milwaukee too.  I was thinking about how I was going to find out an excuse to justify my prolonging of the trip to include Wrigley Field.  I went to the game at Miller Park, when I returned to my car the front left wheel was deflated—un-drive able—and  was just losing air slowly to suggest it was a small leak.  There was my out.

I took the car in the next day to a Tire place in Milwaukee, and attended the Angels and Indians game for a second straight day, (Field View Tickets for ten dollars).

I was able to attend Wrigley Field the next day, in cold but sunny weather I saw the Cubs jump out to a five run lead before in classic style, they surrendered the lead and lost to the Cincinnati Reds 6-5.

I got to live another disappointment loss with the ‘Wrigley fans.’ It was a great moment, seeing baseball without all the modern day amenities, seeing the ivory in the outfield, man-operated scoreboard that only has seven spots for the A.L teams and six for the N.L teams so there is always one score that does not get posted.

The next day I drove to Minnesota-and watched a game from the “Metrodome.”  It felt like being at home because we have a similar stadium back in British Colombia Canada in “BC PLACE.”  It is also one of two stadiums in the Majors that have Canadian flags prominently displayed.

Since I delayed my return home by a few days, I wanted to gun it as fast as humanly possible from Minnesota to Seattle.  It was a test of endurance and pride that I reached Seattle a mere Twenty Six Hours after leaving Minnesota, thus covering almost Seventeen Hundred Miles.

The whole trip left me wanting more after building my parks list up to 13 parks.  The Chevrolet car was successful enough to make it through the next few months without repairs so I was able to plan out another trip back East.

I had searched the internet for rates on car rentals when I returned home with my Cavalier in the spring of 2007.  I found no such deals that would compare to what I found during my trip in April, besides I just sank a thousand dollars into the Chevy Cavalier, and it was working.

My first trial into hardcore ballpark chasing started that summer.  I had ten days of vacation and planned to see ten baseball games in eight days.

Since I did not have a passport at this time, and the United States required foreign travelers to fly domestic flights within the States with one—I had to fly to Montreal first in order to rent a car—and drive down to the States instead.

Day one was a game in Toronto, then it was onto, Baltimore, New York to see the Mets and Philadelphia as part of a day-night double header in two different cities, this was to be followed up by Detroit, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, and a doubleheader in Pittsburgh, Boston and to be concluded in New York to see a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium.

The trip was Four Thousand Miles of all driving.  I brought my wife Stella along with me.  She was going to visit the ‘Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame’, Times Square in New York, and was going to meet ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ in a bookstore in Taylor, Michigan.

I loved my wife Stella at this point, and I did not think it was fair to have a ten day vacation without her so she came along.  Many different events happened though out chasing these stadiums that threw a wrench into out marriage.  I would not see them for months afterwards, but it was a problem with us, I never attributed them to the baseball directly although it was the catalyst.

Doing a schedule like this made me realize how hard traveling can be.  I missed the second game of the trip in Baltimore outright because the drive from Toronto to Philadelphia, then onto Baltimore took way longer then I thought it would.  Some of these directions you receive online are just mileage charts—they don’t take construction, weather, and traffic into consideration.  Deciding not to drive to Baltimore was a wake-up call that I needed to fine-tune the preparations I took from that point forward.

After completing the Shea Stadium, Citizen’s Bank doubleheader, I was schooled again on the drive from Philadelphia to Detroit.  I never made it to Comerica Park until the second inning.

The next day we were late arriving to ‘US Cellular Field’ because ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ arrived late to his book store signing in Taylor, Michigan.  I hate missing any pitch for baseball games, and vowed right there never to miss any starts or ends of the game from that point forward! I have since made the opening pitch for 110 straight games.

I will also get to ranking and talking about all the stadiums during the streak chasers later in future chapters.  I ended the trip seeing nine different home games in nine days.  The biggest shock of the trip was returning the rental car in Montreal—only to find that when we parked out car in a New York Valet Parking near Times Square, someone had dinged it against the wall.

I guess because I was tired from the trip, I forgot when booking the car contract online, that we had taken full insurance for the car and were covered entirely for the damages.  My fears of paying for the car and cutting into my pocketbook were subsided instantly.

My wife and I fought the whole time we drove from New York City to Montreal, at it was apparent she did not have the physical fortitude to come on big road trips that test your endurance.  I, on the other hand, was invigorated by the process and was contemplating a huge summer long vacation the following year that included going to all the ballparks.

I spent four hours on the computer verifying that the latest car offer was real.  I found out that the website that I reserved my rental contract for that ten day summer trip also offered a deal for fully insured rental cars for just over a Thousand Dollars a month.

The reason I thought my first rate on my spring trip was such a deal was because it was low season for traveling.  Car rentals are spiked from June to September.

Whether it was fate or not, a couple of weeks into being home that August, the Chevy Cavalier started to show signs it was headed for major car repairs.  Again I was prompted to the computer.

This time I searched every car rental place in the book. I remembered what got me to this point in my life success the last few years—it was tireless work towards my time management schedule.  I finally came to a conclusion that would be questioned for years in logic, for me it was a revelation.

The best thing I ever did as a courier was chart down every expense for gas, repairs, purchase prices, insurance, car washes and oil changes.  I doubled that with charting all the mileage for the pizzeria and papers—along with daily money earned for the driver job and for the paper routes.  I roughly knew what I was paying per mile to operate a car.  It was six years of research that told me a tale.  I sat with a calculator for a full day straight crunching numbers.

It was a decision that I needed help with.  My dad is a car salesman, and he knows the car business like no tomorrow.  I ran the idea by him—he counter-offered a loan for a reliable used Toyota Yaris.  I was touched by the prospect, but I have a knack for mathematics and knew that buying a car would be the worst thing I could do.  I left the conversation telling him that I would try the car rental for three months and see how it turned out.  At worst, I could always take him up on his offer after.  My mind was working overtime.  I broke it down like this.

3000 miles per month is what I averaged in driving.

Rental Car-Estimated Charges

Heavy price tag-at $925 per month (plus $75 a month to have one of the Cavalier’s on the road so I qualified for Plus Insurance-meaning a rental cars collision  would cover the loss of a rental car.  It is a loophole in the province’s insurance package that I found)-so $1000 a month.

Gas on a new car for the 3000 miles driven for Rental Car of a 2007 Toyota Corolla was-$400 (My rental car at Thrifty)

Total Operation money foe the car was:-$1400/month or 46.7 Cents per mile.

Chevy Cavalier-Estimated Charges

Car Insurance (For Delivery Insurance—(which Rental Cars do not need to have because they have Fleet Insurance) $150, plus $75 for the second old Cavalier for emergency use incase the first one breaks down for a total of $225 a month rare for insurance.  This did not include if I caused the accident, my own vehicle would have to be replaced at my own expense and the subsequent premiums would rise even higher.

Gas on 3000 miles was $575 per month average on the 91’ Cavalier.

Average depreciation per mile was 4 cents so-$125 per month.

Future purchase price towards a—New Car-$125 per month.

Average Repairs on 3000 miles on 15 year old car (moderate) is 15 cents a mile

So total average per month of $450.

Car washes and Oil Changes on 3000 miles per month is $50.

Total operation Money was $1550 or 51.7 cents per Mile, plus no coverage if the car was wrecked. Meaning I would have to pay for a new car without having collision.

At minimum I figured I would spend $150 dollars less a month.  With the rental car I would also have the knowledge I was not going to spend one-to five days a month in the car repair shop waiting for a car to be repaired.  Oh, and lest we forget that this was a month to month comparison analysis.

What if the Cavalier’s engine seized, or a transmission was blown? This would wipe out my personal savings.  With the set dollar total for the rental car I would be able to set a budget for the first time ever as a carrier.

Another thing I always had to worry about was crossing the border to Washington State from the province of British Colombia.  I live three miles from the first gas station in Blaine, WA.  The price difference per gallon translates to about a dollar a gallon savings going to Blaine Washington.  If my cars had any slight problems in the past I would not even risk the car breaking down in the States, thus I paid the crazy fuel charges Canadians pay.  That worry went away with the rental cars.

Immediately my life improved ten-fold.  No longer was I worried about mileage on cars.  At work I was offered some of the higher paying routes that no one wanted to do because of a mileage on a car—well now with unlimited miles I could take country routes that required more driving then physical walking and for half of the time elapsed.  This opened up my income to take on more community newspapers, having that extra energy in reserve.

The first month I switched to the rental cars, I made a $1000 more dollars then the previous month.  I actually tallied about 3500 miles on the car too.

Another thing I learned was that every 16 days that I rented a car—I received a free day car rental to use anywhere in North America(from Thrifty Car Rental)——including my summer baseball trips where I could save 60-70 dollars per day for those mid-week rentals in cities like St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Philly.  This meant an additional $125 on the good side of the ledger.

I have long known for years that the United States also has a cheaper cost of living.  Many times on prolonged road-trips I would bring back the $700 worth of goods exemptions from the USA-back into Canada.  Compared to what we pay in Canada that could be a savings of nearly half off.

The town of Bellingham, Washington is Twenty-Five Miles from my house.  I started travelling there three times a week to pick up $15-20 worth of food, clothing and whatever else was cheaper there.  Usually the border guards would not impose duty when I returned to Canada on the way back.  Since mileage was not an issue for me, I reveled in the amount of miles I tacked on the cars.  I was driving new Toyota cars that all had Ten-Thousand Miles on them or under.  After a month, I would take the car back to the rental place, and trade for a fully detailed similar car.  It was an awesome feeling.  I even was able to drive a few of the cars under a thousand miles.  Sometimes I would keep these cars for longer then a month.

At the pizzeria, I used to be moan and groan when there were far off single deliveries, this unlimited mileage deal eliminated all of that.  I was driving almost three times more then the average driver.  People started questioning the logistics of it all.  They would ask questions about leasing or buying being better?  I had to reply them these answers: “I can not lease a car because I put on 36 to 40000 miles a year.  Second is the delivery insurance, thirdly, I could not buy a car from any bank because I just declared bankruptcy.  I was lucky enough that there are ‘secured credit card’s’ out there that grant you all the benefits of a regular Visa—but you must deposit whatever you want you credit limit to be though.

Having more money on a monthly basis also freed up the ability to buy other food items, and other household items that had reward air miles from specific grocery stores like ‘Safeway.’  Air miles that could get you hotel gift certificates and airline vouchers.  I had always done this but was afraid of carrying to much inventory of one or two items in my house for fear of running out of money.  I could now carry inventory of items for up to six months at a time if the deal was right.

Every week I sat in my house with my calculator and crunched the value of the air miles in connection to the products listed.  In some instances the value of the air miles was worth more money then the product itself.

I will give you an example:

There is a deal for 32 oz Coke bottles (3 for $3 at Safeway.)  For every 6 bottles you buy, you receive 40 Air Miles. An Air Mile is worth 16 cents each when you redeem them for Best Western Hotel Gift Cards.  So you buy (6) 32-oz cokes for $6, in exchange you receive 40 Air Miles at .16 worth for $6.40 in return.  I would buy hundreds of dollars worth of the deal—and then sell them to my manager at the pizzeria.  She just wanted the best deal in town equivalent and she would give the money for that price point.

I would line up the Air Miles dollar for Dollar-with the money spent on the Coke—and then resell them to manager at like 50% percent of the money spent—the rest of that money was pure profit.  I will get into how I made $2000 for my first streak chase when it comes to that chapter from another Air Miles deal.  This was money made from the road while I was going to baseball games for 6 weeks.

My community newspaper I was delivering for, also was thrilled I wanted to work extra, so they gave me more work.  There was a problem with the amount of people who did not want this given newspaper on the house lists though.  About 15 percent of the houses for every route on average did not want the paper.

The problem was that I was getting shipped a hundred extra papers (including the subsequent huge volume of flyers to be inserted in the papers) of the stopped houses.  They were piling up in my shed at my house.  That is when I remembered a guy at the ‘big newspaper job’ used to talk about receiving a few dollars a day for recycling about five big bundles of newspapers near his house.  I asked him for the address and how this all worked.

It was yet another victory for me after finding out the specifics.  They paid about Thirty-Five Dollars a Metric Ton—or about fifteen dollars a full car load from one of the Toyota’s I was renting.  I had a new business.

On the way back from the States border—there was a community recycling plant in which several bad carriers dumped their entire paper routes every two or three days.  Every two days I went for gas I came back with a full car of newspapers—and headed right over to the recycling plant. This profited me fifteen dollars for about forty-five minutes of work.  I just had to protect the rental cars from the newspaper ink—wouldn’t you know I used free blanket giveaways from baseball stadiums to do this.  This business netted me an extra Two-Hundred Dollars of money per month.

I was now in a situation where I could make as much money as the amount of hours I was willing to work.  Between the newspapers and delivering pizza seven days a week I was making money from every direction—also at this time the Canadian dollar was worth $1.10 for every American dollar.  I started buying all the U.S money I could get my hands on for the future trip.

Also because of the vast amount of money I was making, (delivering to nearly 600 hundred houses)—as opposed to 250 the year before—for that Christmas I made nearly $2000 in Christmas tips, more then the $700 then the year before.  I saved $14000 dollars from September 2007 to March of 2008.

The best part about my new schedule was I actually decreased the amount of time involving work because my days of being in a repair shop were over.  From September to December I wrote a full science fiction novel—and re-edited my first novel ever written about a teenage gambling ringmaster.  I wrote for fifteen to twenty hours a week without fail.

In January of 2008, I purchased the ability to self publish both books for Thirteen Hundred Dollars Total. Now it was a matter of one more final edit.  Out of the goals I set forth for myself, they were all a realistic achievement now—with enough money to see the remainder stadiums, (with the bonus of seeing all the other nineteen stadiums again also) and the books being published.  The other goal I had was to visit all the Fifty States in America.

At this point in time I was sitting at Twenty-Five States out of the Fifty.  However I was going to do the baseball trip it would include every other State I had not yet seen except for Alaska.

By March I was ready for the tickets to go on sale for every ball club—and for them to post the remaining time of game starts on the schedule.  Unlike the previous summer, my wife would not be going with me for the road trip.  I had initial talks with all other family members, with most of them agreeing to meet me at various times to watch some baseball.  I printed up two months worth of the schedule and studied up at the course I wanted to take.  I made some early purchases of tickets for this schedule.

A few weeks later, I was online and searched for the ‘World Record’ holder of the “The Fastest to see all 30 Ballparks in MLB.” I knew the record was 28 days—and now I had to re-think this whole trip if I wanted to attempt history. It took me about a week to iron the changes necessary to go for the record streak chase.  The total cost to alter the plane trips and buy additional tickets was about a Thousand Dollars when all was said and done.  I was ready for the tickets portion.  Before I even bought the tickets I strategically mapped out how the plane fares would work, and the mapping of each park, from one to another, after each game.

For years it had been my dream to visit all Fifty-States through visiting baseball games—both minors and majors league games alike.  For this very reason, I was good at United States geography.

Being a Canadian doing this trip I had to study the geography even harder.  I also had to contend with a slipping dollar now too-as it had slipped to $0.92. From the actual trip expenses   I was lucky enough to have purchased all of my plane tickets when the dollar was at par.  In all, Forty Flights were arranged.

Out of the plane fares, some of the tickets were of the multi-city variety.  I was traveling to a lot of cities one-way.  The main site I used was “Kayak.”  The plane fares had to be searched in relevance to price right after I picked the main schedule I went ahead with.  After months of this practice I practically memorized the entire three letter airport codes of all the airports in North America.

The main thing about the streak was that I had to leave myself outs in the double headers should I miss the second game for that day.  For this concept, it is somewhat parallel to establishing a flush in poker.  Your back end of the schedule kind of looked like your front schedule.  This was new territory to me.  I was confident of my travel ability because I had already been to nineteen of the ballparks.  This element both helped me and hindered me in this quest.

Before the streak started I would see three games.  I started my journey by catching a ‘Quick Shuttle Bus” From White Rock to Seattle-where I was flying to Oakland.  My friend Bryan Mccron sat with me and waited until I boarded the bus—and wished me luck-boy was I going to need it.

Here is the schedule I came up with:

 

2008 RECORD ATTEMPT
30 GAMES IN 26 DAYS JULY.02-27 2008
G 30 GAMES
A 26 DAYS
  M
HOME TEAM DATE E OPPONENT TIME
JULY # GAME TIME
OAKLAND SAT-28 0 MCAFEE COLISEUM GIANTS 6:05 PM
NY METS SUN-29 0 SHEA STADIUM YANKEES 1:05 PM
NY YANKEES M-30 0 YANKEE STADIUM RANGERS
CW-SOX JULY 0 US CELLULAR ATHLETICS 7:11 PM
1ST
STREAK STARTED ON THE 2ND BUT COULD BE RETRO
COULD BE RETROCATIVE TO THE DAY BEFORE IF
MISSED CWS ON DOUBLEHEADER ON THE 2ND
DOUBLEHEADERS IN BOLD-Number in order of Double headers
1-7 in brackets DAY/ GA OPPONENT
HOME TEAM DATE ME STADIUM GAME TIME
MINNESOTA (1) W-02 1 METRODOME TIGERS 12:10 PM
CH W SOX (1) W-02 2 US CELLULAR FIELD ATHLETICS 7:11 PM
HOUSTON T-03 3 MINUTE MAID PARK DODGERS 1:05 PM
CINCINNATI F-04 4 GREAT AMERICAN BALLPARK PADRES 12:35 PM
ATLANTA S-05 5 TURNER FIELD ASTROS 7:05 PM
PHILADELPHIA (2) S-06 6 CITIZENS BANK PARK METS 1:35 PM
NY YANKEES (2) S-06 7 YANKEE STADIUM RED SOX 8:05 PM
PITTSBURGH M-07 8 PNC PARK ASTROS 7:05 PM
TEXAS T-08 9 BALLPARK IN ARLINGTON ANGELS 7:05 PM
SAN DIEGO (3) W-09 10 PETCO PARK MARLINS 12:35 PM
LA DODGERS (3) W-09 11 DODGER STADIUM BRAVES 7:10 PM
DETROIT (4) T-10 12 COMERICA PARK TWINS 1:05 PM
CLEVELAND (4) T-10 13 PROGRESSIVE FIELD RAYS 7:15 PM
CHICAGO CUBS (5) F-11 14 WRIGLEY FIELD GIANTS 1:20 PM
MILWAUKEE (5) F-11 15 MILLER PARK REDS 7:15 PM
TORONTO S-12 16 ROGERS CENTER YANKEES 1:07 PM
WASHINGTON (6) S-13 17 NATIONALS PARK ASTROS 1:35 PM
NY METS (6) S-13 18 SHEA STADIUM ROCKIES 8:05 PM
JULY 14-16 ALL STAR BREAK 3 DAYS PENALTY DAYS 13,14, 15
COLORADO T-17 19 COORS FIELD PIRATES 7:05 PM
ST. LOUIS F-18 20 BUSCH STADIUM PADRES 7:05 PM
LOS ANGELES S-19 21 ANGELS STADIUM RED SOX 12:55 PM
ARIZONA S-20 22 CHASE FIELD DODGERS 1:10 PM
SEATTLE M-21 23 SAFECO FIELD RED SOX 7:05 PM
FLORIDA T-22 24 DOLPHIN STADIUM BRAVES 7:15 PM
TAMPA W-23 25 TROPICANA FIELD ATHLETICS 12:40 PM
BALTIMORE T-24 26 ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN ORIOLES 12:40 PM
KANSAS CITY F-25 27 KAUFFMAN STADIUM RAYS 7:15 PM
OAKLAND (7) S-26 28 MCAFEE COLISEUM RANGERS 1:00 PM
SAN FRANCISCO (7) S-26 29 AT&T PARK D BACKS 6:00 PM
BOSTON S-27 30 FENWAY PARK YANKEES 8:05 PM
I COULD  HAVE MOVED FLORIDA TO THE 23RD FOR A DOUBLE
HEADER IF I MISSED THE 6TH NYY GAME(STILL FOR 30-26) ALSO METS 13TH
THEY ALSO PLAYED ON THE 22ND COULD HAVE MOVED
NY YANKEES TO MONDAY THE 28TH IF MISSED BOTH
NEEED 7 DOUBLEHEADERS FOR 30-26  
NEEDED 6 DOUBLE HEADER FOR 30-27  
NEEDED 5 DOUBLE HEADERS FOR 30-28  
ABILITY TO RESTART THE STREAK AGAIN ON JULY.09 IF FAILED JULY-02-08
I COULD MAKE UP EITHER MILWAUKEE OR CLEVELAND ON THE 28TH
IF MISSED        
THERE WAS NO MAKE UP GAME FOR SF GIANTS  
THIS PART VOID IF STREAK ATTEMPT 2 IN PLAY  
AFTER THE STREAK WAS OVER IF MADE IT ALL
1CASUAL VIEWING LIST OF GAMES IN 3RD COLUMN OVERALL
GAMES FOR TRIP
HOME TEAM DATE STADIUM
NEW YORK YANKS M-28 35 YANKEE STADIUM ORIOLES 7:05 PM
NEW YORK YANKS T-29 36 YANKEE STADIUM ORIOLES 7:05 PM
BOSTON W-30 37 FENWAY PARK ANGELS 7:05 PM
NEW YORK YANKS T-31 38 YANKEE STADIUM ANGELS 7:05 PM
ST.LOUIS AUG 39 BUSCH STADIUM PHILLIES 7:05 PM
1ST
CHICAGO CUBS S-02 40 WRIGLEY FIELD PIRATES 12:05 PM
HOUSTON S-03 41 MINUTE MAID PARK METS 1:05 PM
TEXAS S-03 42 MINUTE MAID PARK BLUE JAYS 7:05 PM
TEXAS M-04 43 BALLPARK IN ARLINGTON YANKEES 7:05 PM
CHICAGO CUBS T-05 44 WRIGLEY FIELD ASTROS 1:20 PM
CHICAGO W SOX T-05 45 US CELLULAR FIELD TIGERS 7:11 PM
CINCINNATI REDS W-06 46 GREAT AMERICAN BALLPARK BREWERS 12:35 PM
ST.LOUIS W-06 47 BUSCH STADIUM DODGERS 7:15 PM
SEATTLE T-07 48 SAFECO FIELD RAYS 7:15 PM
SEATTLE F-08 49 SAFECO FIELD RAYS 7:15 PM
SEATTLE S-09 50 SAFECO FIELD RAYS 7:15 PM
SEATTLE S-10 51 SAFECO FIELD RAYS 1:05 PM

Game#1 Day #1

The Metrodome

Minneapolis, MN    

July.02/2008

The key to making this doubleheader was to have a quick game between Minnesota and Detroit. I flew into Minnesota from Chicago after watching a White Sox game the night before.  Why would I do that before I was going to see them on this night? It was something I learned in this game early by meeting the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ guidelines of not going to a stadium twice in the same streak attempt. Should I not make my Minnesota to Chicago flight on this day, or not arrive before the first pitch for the White Sox—I had US Cellular Field in my back pocket already.  It was good practice for verification as well.

Since I landed had landed at the Minnesota International Airport-(MSP) at eight in the morning, (flying in from Chicago’s Midway Airport), I decided to check out the ‘Mall of America.’  It was also a good chance to check out the subway transportation that was going to take me to and from the game later at the ‘Metrodome.’

I was happy to see the close proximity of the ‘Lindberg Terminal’ to the airport.  It is one of only a few cities that have a light rail service directly from the airport to a stadium.  To help matters even more I noticed they had a security clearance for travelers that only had carry-on luggage right out of the terminal.  There was little wait for this line and the people were moving through at a fast pace.   I, of course, had some of my luggage stored at a hostel in Chicago’s Downtown core where I was staying anyway, and the biggest amount of luggage was stored at my brother’s house in New Jersey—where I would be doubling back to collect several times throughout the journey.  All I had that day was a coat, my cell phone, and a digital camera to document each ballpark visit.

I had a sheet with all the subway times for the ’55 ‘HENNEPIN/MALL OF AMERICA HIWATHA LINE SCHEDULE.’

I made it to the Mall of America at about 9 AM in the morning, but was way too early to have most of the shops open.  So I had breakfast and walked around the entire mall once to at least say I have seen the place.  I was very tired from already watching baseball games from McAfee Coliseum, Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and US Cellular Field for 4 straight days in a row.  I decided to rest on one of the comfortable bean bag chairs in the foyer of the mall.

The next thing I knew I was being poked by a security guard of the mall telling me I could not sleep there.  I almost jumped up parallel out of that bean bag chair because it was already ten minutes to eleven—had that security guard not woken me up I would have probably missed the first game.  Still I ran to the subway station and met up with about a hundred other ‘Twins’ fans-who were also parking at the mall to take the subway in to the game.

I was mad at myself for the decision to be so far away from the ballpark, and at that point decided no matter what I did from there on in any city, to always be within earshot of each ballpark.  I did know I was going to be in okay shape to make it for 1st pitch.  I still had to wait ten minutes at the station for two trains to pass before I could board a train.

I made it to the game at 11:45 AM

It was a muggy day outside so I was glad I was indoors.  Since I wanted to have a comfortable seat, I bought a twenty dollar ticket to sit the home run porch area in left field.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the ‘Twins’ and the ‘Metrodome.’  I have always liked the Twins since the days of Kirby Puckett.  He was one of my favorite players growing up, and I actually read his novel when I was a teenager, (it was one of three other books I had read in baseball at that age.  I also read books by Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Pete Rose.)  Throw in the players Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and George Bell and were talking about all my favorite ballplayers at that time.

The ‘Metrodome’ was opened in the early eighties and was considered a ‘state of the art’ building when it first opened. The white ‘Teflon roof’ is easy to pick out from far distances in the city.  The ‘Metrodome’ looks far better from the outside then the inside.  When you looked at the roof from the inside you see silver coils and bright white, you also wondered how any ballplayer ever saw a white ball that was ever hit?

The tickets themselves were very well priced to see an entertaining product on the field.  I was happy to see that they even had a Canadian Flag hanging from the rafters in the middle of the Field.  I wondered if that was placed there to appease the Canadians: Justin Morneau and Jessie Crain that were on the team

I sat in my seat and listened to the opening line-ups being read out.  The place had the worst sound system in the major leagues by far.  They really should have turned down the audio.

I also bought lower level seats because you were not allowed in the lower levels if you have upper deck seats.  I hate ballparks that do this, it would be one thing if all major league parks adopted this policy but they have not.  The previous year, on my first visit, I had found out how high the general bleacher seats were for your seven dollar fee, and had no plans to ever sit that high again.  Being lower was definitely the way to go at the Metrodome.

I do give to the Twins players for their generosity to kids in the way a lot of them donating private boxes—out of their own pocket—to the games.  Whether it is “Morneau’s Mounties, The Crain Train, the players are at the fore front for the community.  I also liked the Wall of Fame with pictures of Kirby Puckett, Frank Viola, Harmon Killebrew, Carew, Kent Hrbek, and Rick Aguilera.  I watched every inning of the playoffs on TV of both the 87’ and 91’ playoffs in which they won the World Series.  Even though the ’91 series is considered a better series I remember the ’87 series with the Cardinals a lot more because I watched it entirely with my 3 brothers and father at the age of 11.

I bought a few hot dogs, a coke and watched as the mascot ‘T.C’ zoomed around the outfield on an ‘ATV.’  He stopped right before our section and scaled the fence over to high-five some fans. The fence in left was not very high.  T.C is probably the best all around mascot in the game, he hits batting practice, hugs kids, dances, drives the ATV around and comes into the stands a lot more then any mascot I have ever seen.

The game started on time and my quest had begun.  It was a new way to watch a game.  Even though I was cheering for the Twins over the Detroit Tigers, I was cheering for fast innings and outs more than anything.  For certain I did not want to see extra innings at all.  I had to catch the subway back to the Airport—and catch a 4:56 PM flight to Chicago that landed at 6:30 PM— for a 7:11 PM start time at ‘US Cellular Field.  It was now 12:10 PM at first pitch.

Much to my delight, the Twins put up a five run bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead.  I loved this because the home team winning also meant a half an inning less.  The way I figured it, I hoped for 15 to 18 minute innings, this would mean a game that would last two hours and 15-45 minutes long.  So I started watching for innings that lasted this long.  I soon learned my new best friend was the double play ball.  I was constantly doing the math in my head, 50 minutes for 3-innings was about a 2 hour and 30 minute contest.  I looked at the scoreboard of the Twins directly behind me to see the totals.

For such a big facility, the screens showed replays at other ends of the Dome were pretty small.  The fans in the ballpark were quite loud when the Twins were winning and it reached high levels on the old wavelengths of sound.  There was definitely a reason why the Twins always had one of the better home records.

The Astroturf back then—turned into Field turf later—led to seeing-eye singles more then any other ballpark in the majors.  You also had to love the uniqueness of the 17 foot baggie in right field-it was often compared to the ‘Green Monster’ in Boston but only for size, it was surely not as attractive.

Another negative towards the ballpark were rats in the ‘press box’, the roof deflating a few times to accumulated snow(caving in during the 2010 NFL season) and players that suffered knee injuries as a result of the concrete underneath the playing surface more so with the Astroturf of course before the turn of the millennium.

I was standing for the final pitch with much jubilation as the Twins won 7-0 in front of 30,120 fans (including me) in a game that lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes.  It was now 2:40 PM in the afternoon.  I documented the end of the game with pictures, video, and had a Minnesota Twins usher sign my log book and raced out to the subway train station.  What I saw outside made me panic.  There must have been a few thousand people lining up to take the train.  I asked a guy the approximate wait time for a line this big from where I was?  He said “about a 40 minute wait.”

I figured this had me to the airport at around 4:00 PM at best. It was very risky to make the 4:56 PM flight-but it would not unattainable.  I thought back to a trick my dad always did at stadium visits.  I ran up to the next station about a mile up the road.  There, there was no line-up at all.  All it took was running to beat the crowd.  Chalk one up for dear old dad teaching me well as a kid.  With no line-up I stood on the twenty-minute train to the ‘Lindbergh Terminal’, whipped out my boarding pass that I had printed several hours earlier—and went through the security gate without any bags. I made it to my gate at 3:45 PM.  I had a solid opportunity to complete this doubleheader.  One game was done.    Had I missed that flight I would have been taking a Greyhound Bus all night in order to arrive at 3:00 AM-only to grab my stuff from the hostel and turn around for a flight to Houston from O’Hare Airport.

Game#2 Day#1

US Cellular Field

Chicago, IL

July.02/2008

I had a tip from my brother Trent early on in the planning stages, that .the United States airline companies often ‘sand-bag’ their flying times to destinations to take jet-way delays into consideration.  More often then not, the airlines are able to beat the scheduled arrival time by many minutes.  I actually used a tool on the internet called ‘Flight Tracker’ to watch the very flight I was on to see if this was a correct statement.  I watched this exact flight land 4 weeks in a row, all approximately 15 minutes earlier then the 6:32 PM time it was supposed to arrive on that day.  That day I was not as lucky.  It was after all a ‘Chicago Airport.’  Still at a 6:30 PM arrival-I had about 40 minutes to first pitch.  I had called in a sedan service to pick me up from ‘MIDWAY’.

True to their word, there was a young guy in his twenties waiting for me in the arrival gate and he escorted me through to the limo stand at a running pace.  I saw it had started to rain and weather was something I would always keep my eye on during transportation throughout the trip.

Midway Airport is 9 miles from the airport to the ballpark in heavy Chicago ‘traffic.’  The trip was said to be around 15 minutes on the map, but I knew that would be doubled with the traffic on the ‘55 Highway,’ and it being game day.  The driver was fast and weaved his way through the rain.  We arrived at the ballpark in thirty minutes.  It was 7:03 PM.  The limo driver turned on the radio a few minutes before arriving to listen to the pre-game show.  I heard the broadcasters say there would be a rain delay to start the game

Was this good or bad news?  The forecast did not look good, it was supposed to rain all night.  This led me to another rule set forth by the “GWR”.

There was an inherent risk to any game I went to.  Since the rule states I can not go the parks twice during the same streak, what if there was a rain delay midway through the game and they called it?  I read the rules again.  I had them stuffed in my coat.  It says I could not go back to the ballpark again-(during that given streak) in case of a rainout if I watched one pitch.  Now if it were to be suspended for any reason, I could complete the game whenever it was resumed.  But this posed problems because they would have to have resumed it after the last game of the streak for it to count for me.  This meaning under the current attempt my last game was to be on the 27th of July.  I would have needed this game, (should it be suspended) to be resumed on exactly Monday July.28.  I already had the previous nights game in the bag and could retroactive the streak to it if I wanted.  This would mean the streak would become a 30-27 attempt instead of a 30-26 attempt—but I would not have to worry about the weather.

I did have a chance to re-schedule a Chicago White Sox game on the 18th of July. To give myself that option, that was why I was flying to ….Indianapolis…. on the 4th of July morning.  I could drive to Cincinnati—the original scheduled game, or drive to St. Louis instead—in case of switching Chicago White Sox to the 18th 2 weeks later.  All I had to do was switch a flight to Cincinnati for the 27th and move Boston back a day to the 28th.  My flight on the 18th was a 2-parter.  I flew from Denver, Colorado in the morning, and then had a flight from Chicago to St. Louis scheduled—with a layover in Cincinnati.  This gave me all three cities with an available game on that date for me to see.

I knew this upon reaching US Cellular Field on that July.2nd game.  I decided to walk into the rain delay in Chicago.  By doing this I needed them to play an ‘official game once the 1st pitch was thrown or this streak was dead in the water!  I only ever wanted to use the July.1st game in Chicago in case I missed my flight in from Minnesota.

From the moment I walked into US Cellular the rain let up.  I was sitting in the 500 level, so there is a nice long elevator to take up to that level.  Much like the ‘Metrodome,’ you are stuck to the level the ticket says you are at.  This bugged me almost as much as the 21 dollars shelled out for what is the equivalent of a ‘nose-bleed’ seat.

I also remember the year before when I brought my wife, when we paid 22 dollars for parking, yikes!  Chicago is not a very value priced ticket.  They do have great hot-dogs though.

Outside the park, there are many street vendors that carry tones of paraphernalia.  There are various bands playing outside the stadium usually before the games—which is a nice feature you don’t often see at ballparks.

The White Sox also pay good homage to their heroes of yesteryear.  There are many bricks, pillars and statues of greats like; Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Frank Thomas, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio. Inside the park is very similar to the Indians ‘Progressive Field.’  It was also built around the same time as Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and the above stated Jacobs Field as it used to be called.

During the game, the scoreboard in centerfield will shoot fireworks through 7 candy-cane style colored pillars—on top of the big scoreboard—and the pillars illuminate to their painted colors.  It is a nice spectacle.

In addition to that scoreboard, there is another scoreboard under the main one—near the grassy back drop in center field.  This scoreboard is used for player stats.  In left centre field is the official score-line scoreboard.

As it goes for the stadiums, The ‘Cel’ is probably the best to see what the score is from any angle in the crowd.

The concourse in the outfield is designed so that you can walk around freely.  I like the stadium as the top half in the league, but the value for the overall experience is suffered by anyone who wants to drive to the park.

The previous night I learned the ‘CTA’ (Chicago Transit Authority) schedule very well.  After the game that night I was going to take the ‘Red Line’ sub headed towards Howard, to head back towards downtown Chicago, were I was going to go back to the hostel, have a quick snooze and hop on the ‘Blue Line Train that would take me from Jackson and State Road all the way to O’Hare Airport.  Once I learned these subways I decided never to drive in Chicago again if possible.

The game started at 7:35 PM, and the clouds had subsided for the time being.  It is never fun to sit in a seat after it has been rained on.  The smart ushers—(I have seen Cincinnati and San Diego ushers do this) carry towels and dry off your seats as they escort you from the concourse.  Most of the parks ushers are not even adept in walking you to your seat as a sign of good service.

I thought I was in the clear at this point from any future weather that night, boy was I wrong.  Let’s get back to the game first.

The White Sox took a 5-4 lead into the top of the Ninth.  That is when the rains started to come down in a hailstorm.  I could not take the constant pelting and went into the 500 level Concourse with a bunch of other Chicago Fans.  Since it was wet, I was worried about picture/video recorder being affected.  On a TV, I watched in dismay as Grady Sizemore hit a solo homer of Scott Linebrink to tie the game at 5.  The rain came down even harder.  I was petrified the umpires were going to call a rain delay—or even worse to suspend it outright.  All of a sudden my decision a few hours earlier could have come back to haunt me.  All I heard about the last 48 hours had been the upcoming rain.  Man I was sweating it out.  After all the planning and leg work for the trip, it could all come to a halt in the first attempt on the very first day!

I would have to start again the next day at zero.  Yes there was a contingency plan to it, but because of a limited home schedule in Minnesota for the coming weeks, it would be easier to re-schedule the attempt for a July.09 start.  Houston was even worse for re-scheduling the next day. With the 4 doubleheaders in 5 days to start off with beginning July 9th, I would be able to shoot for a 30-26 chance again. It was finish this game right now or I would restart the next week. I was worried.

The Minnesota-Chicago doubleheader is not what most people would think for doubleheader chances.  I would be really disappointed if it was stalled because of a suspended game.  The roundtrip plane ticket to and from Chicago was one of the higher plane fares at about three hundred dollars round-trip.  The sedan service ran about 70 dollars.  You add in the car rental in Chicago the previous day, and two days at the hostel—and it would mean about 500 dollars spent on the first day without any games to show for it should the game be called now.

The bottom of the ninth was scoreless.  More rain came down…..

The top of the tenth proved to be awful viewing in watching the hitters try and locate the ball even to swing.

I umpired for ten years growing up. I was convinced they were going to call the game.  There was no end to the rain in sight or forecast.

A.J Pierzynski then came up to bat in the bottom of the 10th.  I was pacing around the walkway to the 521 section.  I decided to stomach a few glances at the field from the outside again.  I had been up since 3 AM at that point.  The Cleveland Indians pitcher Kobayashi leaned back and fired a fastball—A.J cranked a ‘thunderous’ shot headed into the night towards left field.  I never even saw the ball land in the stands, but when the fireworks shot off from the scoreboard the place went ballistic.  The White Sox fans I had been watching the game with, burst outside of the Concourse—and all of them were high-fiving each other and I joined them.  I was just as happy as they were—albeit for an entirely different reason—I had completed 2 games in my first day! A.J Pierzynski will be favorably remembered because of that walk-off homer.

The hour and a half it took for me to catch a train back to the Hostel did not bother me in the pouring rain.  I had my camera tucked into my pocket deep with my verification of proof I had been there.

Game#3 Day #2

Minute Maid Park

Houston, TX

July.3/2008

I couldn’t sleep after the previous night’s game at Us Cellular Field; so much of the streak scenarios had been running through my mind.  I had nailed a doubleheader with a flight involved between cities.  It was a remarkable accomplishment with planning.  I took the ‘Red Line’ subway train to my hostel room on Congress Parkway.  It was an only a twenty-minute trip.

The hostel was sponsored by ‘Hostelling International.’  So they had a student work center with internet and vending.  I should have probably slept but I was too fired up—and thoughts of oversleeping could not be erased from my mind.

I made the decision after an hour that I would forego taking the hour long subway to ‘O’Hare Airport’; instead I opted to take a taxicab.

The plan was quite simple, I had a flight that left at around six in the morning and would arrive in Houston at 8:30 AM.  I had one of my free car rental days waiting at ‘Thrifty Car Rental’ at ‘IAH’ airport.  It should have been easy enough to drive to the ballpark—‘Google maps’ said it would take about thirty minutes or so to drive there.  It was my first new ballpark during the trip.  It was my 20TH ballpark overall.

O’Hare Airport was one of the first airports to have internet services and I really enjoyed having the option as I was waiting for that morning flight.  I was flying with ‘Continental Airlines’ that day.

The skies were blue and everything appeared to be normal when I made it to the gate.  I was traveling with only my briefcase that carried all of my travel information.  I had one bag checked to be picked up upon arrival.  I was 60 minutes until boarding.

There was a momentary pause before the sounds of the speaker came on. The flight had been delayed by 3 hours now by virtue of the flight crew having arrived in late the night before due to inclement weather.  I did some quick, mathematics in my head.  We were now flying out at 9:30 AM in the morning, and arriving in Houston just after noon time.  This was not good at all.  I felt uneasy about the whole transportation.  I had never been to Houston and I could be delayed a long time in just waiting for the rental car.

I called Thrifty to cancel the car reservation with enough notice to not have them charge a deposit against my visa.  Luckily for me I had my phone numbers list and called my limo driver for the next month’s game I was going to attend after the streak was supposed to have been over.

Much to my dismay, my sedan driver would be unable to help drive me to the game due to a previous commitment.  I was frantically searching on the internet until I found a limo service and called it with ‘my air miles long distance number.’

It was nice to have discovered a free way to acquire long distance minutes just by cashing these Air Miles in from shopping at Safeway. After three phone calls, I secured a driver to pick me up from the limo area just after noon.  I needed the same service back to the airport after the game to catch a 7 PM flight to ‘JFK.’   The next day’s travel day was even more intense.

The cost for the 2-way sedan service this day was only $110.  This of course was definitely a good alternative to use in the city of Houston.  Normal car rental rates plus insurance and gas—and parking at the game would almost have equaled that amount anyways.

“Damn!”  I whispered while drinking a coke and intermittently biting a cold sandwich to fill my stomach up till game time.  I had just digested the cost of altered travel plans when I presented with a new problem, “what am I going to do with my checked luggage?”  It was full of just ordinary clothes at least so I decided to just ditch the luggage parcel and try and retrieve it later in the day.  Again every time problems arose throughout the trip I would re-evaluate the rest of the trip with the gained knowledge.  Somewhere in the back of my mind

I had considered this scenario and was happy to have disposable luggage in the event I was not able to recover it later.  There would be no further delays in going to Houston.

My sedan driver was in his middle forties and was well dressed with black slacks and a sports collared shirt with a purple tie on.  He had gone the extra mile to meet me in the meeting area with a white sign that read my last name.

“Mr. Booth, right this way, you are in no danger of missing the first pitch, I will have you there within a half hour.”

This put my mind at ease.  As part of my original planning I had a different schedule of dates which included extra sets of tickets to the Astros later in the month—I offered them up to the gentleman immediately.  I was trying to sell them online but with no success.  It continued my good will acts during the streak.  I made it to Minute Maid Park within the half an hour as the sedan guy had said.  I then walked up to the corner of the building.  It was about Ninety-Five Degrees out.

I was happy to not have fought with real parking and navigation at this point anyway.  I immediately was impressed with the cleanliness outside of the ballpark.

Upon entering I saw the homage to past players on the wall of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell—the wall I liked the best was of Craig Biggio’s 3,000 hits wall.  Past that was a ‘HOMERUN PUMP’-gas pump—I actually prefer to watch the game along this area.  The Train in the left field bleachers goes off every time there is a homerun hit.

I noticed that with most indoor stadiums that they are tougher to take clear pictures.  I had only brought my silver digital camera and had left my briefcase in the sedan because I was not sure of the park’s policies when it came to what you could bring in.  I walked around the concourse and was impressed at the sightlines.  The hill in center just adds to the character of the park.  The sunlight still shines through the windows past the field, which makes it somewhat bright.

I made my way to the concession stand and purchased a soda and pizza—which was awesome.  I sat in the four hundred-section while I ate.  I met a nice usher who signed my book itinerary and I explained my situation of having to be there for every single pitch.  He was nice enough to radio a fellow usher near the exit later in the game to help sign my page that I was there for the last out.  It would have cost me a few minutes rushing down the escalators from the fourth level.

There was a nice tribute to the soldiers from overseas being a day before the ‘Fourth of July’ on the big scoreboard. This would be a repeating theme of baseball games that made me proud to visit these stadiums.  Respecting the fine men and women that were protecting the country through baseball was high on the list of MLB.  With Thirty-Six Thousand other fans I saw Houston win 5-2 over LA Dodgers in 3 hours.

I liked that during the seventh inning stretch the Houston fans sang “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”  They also loved playing the “Sesame Street’s version” of ‘get playing’ baseball—as it promoted kids playing baseball and it was quite entertaining.

I actually prefer not having the sun beating in my face while watching games so I was happy to watch the game indoors.

Minute Maid Park has lots of little scoreboards in the lower levels so you always know what the score is.  Their big score board is easily seen in the right center field wall and is great for viewing replays.  There is also plenty of concourse room to walk around each level.

The Staff at Minute Maid Park are always courteous and were there to help in anyway.  I would not say there is an abundance of different food but what they have works.  The pizza was sensational and the ballpark hotdogs are good and well priced.  It is a good park to come and go from for when it comes to park accessibility.  They also open up the ballpark roof after everyone leaves to air it out.

Since the ballgame was over in good time I was able to race to Congress Street and Crawford. It was a perfect sedan pick up.

Now came a little bit of worrying.  I had some time to locate my luggage.  I walked to the baggage area of security and explained that I was in pursuit of a world record and that I needed to make it to the park on time for the game and said I did not see my luggage ever come down the ramp.  Of course that was a lie-but what was I going to tell them?  They could not find the bag at the airport and I was re-routed to a more secure part of the airport for more screening and analysis.  I was not seen as a security threat—they just needed to locate the bag by asking itinerary questions.

A few more minutes and I would be okay with the idea I was not receiving the bag back—there were inherent risks to the streak chase.  Just then they told me “Continental Airlines had re-routed the bag to JFK already—this actually looked good in my favor because it looked like it was their fault all along.  I would meet up with my bag in New York City.

My day was not over yet.  I did a radio interview with “CBC Radio” back home for five minutes live with reporters I still can’t remember the names of.  I explained them the day and then told them the “Jim Maclaren story.”  The lady host began to cry on air, and it was then I fully understood the magnitude of the streak now gaining momentum, it was my third radio interview already and back home the ‘Associated Press’ had picked it up in all the newspapers.

The very next day I had another radio interview some where between Indianapolis and Cincinnati when I could spare a few minutes from the road

. I had also been communicating non-stop with the ‘Detroit Free Press- who were going to follow me around the ballpark all day when I arrived there the following Thursday in Detroit-and about nine days into the trip.

During the radio interview, my gate had changed to a different area and I only realized it at the last minute-scurrying about as fast as I could.  I was going to keep tabs on every last detail in order to break this record.  I noticed the Houston Airport has more carts transporting people then any other airport in the USA.  I wanted to have that option available but it was not meant for healthy free-bodied people.  I managed to sleep the whole flight to JFK.  It then took me about thirty minutes to find my rental car in the parking lot.  Again I needed to be sharper from that point forward.

I drove back to my brother’s house in Sicklerville New Jersey and would only be there to shower before heading to Philadelphia’s International airport for an early morning flight to Indianapolis en route to Cincinnati.

Game#4 Day #3

The Great American Ball Park

Cincinnati, OH

July.04/2008

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.  The fact you have to wait in yet another line for a shuttle to the gate is brutal.  This 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 matinee 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 offer 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.  The 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.”

Game#5 Day#4

Turner Field

Atlanta, GA

July.05/2008

It was a non-eventful plane trip, and I was happy to make it to ‘Turner Field’ with plenty of time for game number five.  I had never been to the ballpark here yet, and was impressed with some things and yet other things were left unclear.  There was a good turnout of 37,000 people to watch an Atlanta Braves team that was struggling.  I was left to ponder why the fans would not sell the park out in the playoffs?

Turner Field has the most interactive pre-and post game interviews at their broadcast pavilion near the front entrance.  I was amazed at how close the fans got to the announcers.  After the game I watched that night there was a post-game concert with the popular band Arrested Development’.  The stage in left-center field after the games is a nice venue to keep the fans entertained even after the games.

The park is quite monstrous with the levels, but it might have been better if the seats were cascading up and down over the field.  The staff at the park is below average, and if you are in the upper seats you virtually have no help.

Then we get to the ‘’Tomahawk Chop.’

The chop is really the most absurd tradition in baseball or sports for that matter, but the fans do it religiously.  I was astounded to see groups of fifty people and upwards doing this tradition in sync.  I will give them credit for being dedicated.

The outside of the park is not the greatest area of town but the red brick building stands out largely.  I like the historical pictures, plaques and statues of all the greats like: Hank Aaron and Warren Spahn.  I think the fourteen pennants have spoiled the fans to the point where the regular season does not matter and this it too bad.  I am sure in time the history in the park will be so much greater when: Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine all get their due.

There are large concourses, but it takes forever to reach the upper decks, and it seems so far away from everything once you are up there.

The game was a dud from the get-go.  Houston pasted the hometown Braves 6-2 with Mark Loretta doing the most damage collecting four runs batted in.  The game was over in 2.5 hrs.  The best part of my experience was the concert afterwards.  Maybe it was because I never liked the Braves being both a Yankees and Blue Jays fan growing up.

Atlanta was easy to navigate around with the rental car and I stayed at a ‘Quality Inn’ I bargained for on http://www.priceline.com.  I paid $10 to park at the game and another $15 over night at the hotel downtown.  The experience was all right, but then again I left this ballpark for the very end of my chasing for a reason.  I caught up on sleep and had an early morning flight to Philadelphia.  It was nice to have a stress free travel day.

Game#6 Day#5

Citizens Bank Ball Park

Philadelphia, PA

July.06/2008

On the drive back on the Hwy-76 W-I started to get cocky about this whole trip.  My dream of 30 games in 26 days was on track.  This day upcoming I had scouted more than any other doubleheader scenario.  It was 8 AM-and I was driving back tom my brother Trent’s in N.J for a visit and breakfast before returning to the Park.  I planned to park at the 30th street station with my rental car and take a cab to Citizens Bank Ballpark afterwards.

From there I was going to see a game between the Mets and Phillies.  Around 4:30 PM, after the first game ended I was going to take a cab back to the ‘Amtrak Station’ on 30TH ST.

I was slated to take a 5:10 PM train that would get me to ‘New York Penn Station’ at nearly 7 PM.  From there I could take the subway to Yankee Stadium.  It was a Sunday night game—so the starting time on the New York game was 8:05pm.  Using Amtrak was the way to go—the previous year my brother Trent and I did a doubleheader with ‘Shea Stadium’-and ‘CBP.’  You are able to skip the traffic and Tolls for a little more money—but way more convenience.

If I made this doubleheader it would be 7 games in 5 days.  I was stoked to have a chance to see Yankees vs. Red Sox as the second half of the doubleheader.

I did some laundry at my brother’s house, and then left for the park to arrive around noon for a 1:35 PM start.

Citizens Bank Park is one of the best parks to watch a game now with the bustling crowds and hardcore fanatics that are Phillies fans.  I was not happy to see rain clouds surfacing the sky when I arrived.  The weather report had called only for clouds.  I noticed when walking in for my 1st day game that Citizens Bank Park is really accessible for everyone including special ramps for the handicapped.  The park outlay is nice.

The ‘Tony Luke’s’ area surrounded by ‘Ashburn Alley’ is my favorite place to watch the games from.

I don’t like spending lots of money for any game—so “Standing Room Only” seats are perfect for me.

I walked around the park before the game and took some nice video.  The ‘Sports Complex’ that CBP is part of with: “Lincoln Financial Field, The Wachovia Center and the ‘Old Spectrum’, make it a sports goers dream in solving any driving issues.  The mere fact the airport is so close by really gives the park even that much more credibility.

Being at Phillies games you must watch the ‘Phillie Phanatac,’ who is probably the most entertaining mascot in the Major Leagues today with apologies to ‘T.C. from Minnesota” and the ‘San Diego Chicken.’ This mascot loves to aggravate the umpires and opposing ball teams by all sorts of shenanigans.

I ate a Phllly Cheesesteak as soon as I got in the ballpark—again is the best singular food all time at any ballpark.

I was seeing the New York Mets for the 3rd time in a week.  I had seen them play in Houston 3 days before that, and the previous Sunday before the streak had started.  I was lucky enough to see a Yankees/Mets game at Shea Stadium.  I have always hated the Mets—even more since they got rid of Daryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.  I had cheered for them in the 86 World Series only because they were playing the Red Sox.

I was happy in one way to see the game progressing along at 1-0 Mets in the eighth inning while I was keeping a watchful eye on the rain at all times.  They were throwing pounds of sand on the field between every inning.  It was only nearing 4 PM—and the game was eight outs for being finished.  I had talked to all of the security guys about signing my time log sheet and had the best route to hailing a cab directly after the game ended.

Ryan Howard was up to bat and the umpire was checking out the rains with his fellow crew huddled up.  The motion was made for the tarp.

“Damn,” I said, knowing the rain was not going to let up.  I could have taken about a 40 minute delay or so and attempted the 5:30 PM train—to have a chance but it was not to be.

Not only that, but the rain was coming down even harder.  Since the parks are a hundred miles apart I was thinking about a Cincinnati scenario where the Yanks/Red Sox could have been delayed in my favor.

It was now turning into me hoping they would call the game because it was 7 PM at night.  I was with a lot of fellow fans that had been crammed into the covered areas of ‘CBP’.  The Mets were up by one run—technically it was a game, although I did not really want an asterisk of a shortened game as part of the streak.  I had come to the realization that I spent a lot of money just to miss that Yankees doubleheader on that Sunday.  The worst was that the chain reaction of that missed game would mean the return game at Fenway Park, between those two clubs three weeks from that Sunday would be missed as well.–$300 in tickets completely eaten.

I was feeling really down until the ‘Phillie Phanatac’ stole the ATV from the grounds crew and peeled around the rain soaked field with the field crew chasing him for ten minutes.  It was an awesome release from the tension I was feeling.  With only one game missed I could still turn in a 30-27 trip.  My Boston game as the last game was also strategic.  I needed to move Baltimore from the 22nd to 27th and move the Yankees into Baltimore’s 22nd slot—and then Boston could be moved to the Monday 28th game.  The flights I had actually worked out because of my 22nd flight had me arrive in New York early in the morning.  Gone also was the possibility of hitting all doubleheaders before the 22nd of July—where I could have skipped the hard to make 23rd Tampa Bay-Florida doubleheader attempt and used the Florida game on the 22nd—and push Baltimore to the 27th as the final game for a 30-27 attempt.

To add insult to the length of game, the Phillies tied it in the bottom of the Ninth at around 9 PM—and the game ended at 10:54 PM at night.  The Yankees game actually ended about the same time as the Phillies.  I took a cab back to my parked car at the ‘Amtrak Station’ and drove back to my brother’s house again.  I needed to drive to Pittsburgh the next night before driving back the day after that to New York City.  Things were just beginning to spiral downward.

Game#7 Day#6

PNC Park

Pittsburgh, PA

July.07/2010

It was not my first time to see the Pirates play at ‘PNC’, the previous year I watched a doubleheader featuring Barry Bonds last games to be played in Pittsburgh—for awhile I was thought he might pass Hank Aaron for the all time Homer list for the games I was attending.  Barry had surpassed Aaron a week earlier but I was still glad to see him in the starting lineup.  Now I was back less than a year later.

I was ready to rebound from the day before.  I drove 340 miles from my brother’s house in New Jersey—to arrive in Pittsburgh with lots of time to spare.

I parked in a business building across the “Roberto Clemente Bridge.”  PNC Park is very convenient for parking, as they close off most of the bridges directly nearest to the ballpark.  The park looks immaculate from the bridges and especially in reverse from the park where you can see the bridges.

Pittsburgh is a blue collar town but it a beautiful city downtown.  The crowd was not bustling that night.  There were 13,223 fans for the game and half that many were there when I arrived.

There may not be a better new ballpark when it comes to respecting the history of their team.  There are statutes for just about any significant member ever associated with Pirates.  There is a great amount of history of the World Series Runs of 1971 and 1979.  The area my ticket was in was the left field bleachers section for a $9 price.  Quite simply it is the best value in the majors considering it is general seating.  You are right on top of the left fielder.

I made it over to “Greentree Pizza”—located just behind the huge scoreboard.  I was staving so I ordered the large fourteen inch Pepperoni Pizza.  It is made on a light thin crust and is one of the best singular foods in the majors.

Around the park, people were texting each other on their cell phones as the Pittsburgh Pirates display between every inning on their scoreboards.  This is a fun thing to do—and very fan interactive.

They have two mascots that are running around the empty park.  ‘The Pirate,’ (who will steal your food if you are not looking and/or opposing team ball caps that fans wear) and ‘The Parrot,’ (who is a lot more kid friendly and usually can be found occupying seats in the empty lower bowl.).  I was pleasantly surprised that the ushers were so nice to me when I told them about my record streak.  The lady talked to me for thirty minutes about the ballpark and even asked if I had time for a tour while in the city, she said she could call her boss if I wished.  I politely declined as I had a long drive back to New York City.  It was then I realized I actually needed a quick game.

It was one of the plane fares bought before the trip started and impossible to change because it was too costly.  I would have about six hours to drive back to New York for a five and a half hour drive.  There was not much wiggle room

One of the coolest things about the PNC Park-is the size of left field center scoreboard.  They play a four minute introduction at the start of the game that shows years of Pirate highlights and it always pumps me up.  Then there is a segment where a cartoon pirate is away at sea with his crew and they come across the opposite team boat. A 3 minute battle ensues with the Pirates crew eventually taking ownership of the other boat.  The pirate laughs and then it is game time.

The scenery is beautiful with the backdrop. The big green fence in right-centre field has ‘Pirates’ perfectly hedged in shrubs.  The only thing that is kind of weird is you can’t walk in the general area entirely across the outfield sectors.  The seat’s in right field are in the 3rd level and is quite a shot from home plate to hit a homerun.  It is even a better sight at night with the bright lights of all the bridges illuminating the park.  If only the franchise was in better shape.

The food courts are impressive for the limited amount of people attending.  They are quick with the vendors—and have some of the longest serving staff of any in the majors.

In the left field bleachers there is a sit in restaurant that features live performances out on the patio deck including ‘mariachi band’s’ and groups that sing ‘a cappella.’  There is not much going on downtown directly around the park inside of the bridges that does not pertain to the ball game.

That night began sunny but soon clouds over giving me the worry of a rainout.  The Houston Astros ran out to a 3-0 lead on a towering homer by Carlos Lee.  The Pirates responded with a 4 run bottom of first. The inning took about forty-minutes and I was in time trouble again.

Fast forward to the 4th inning and it was 10-7 Pittsburgh—and we were already nearing 9:15 PM.  I was sweating the game big time.  If I left about 10:30 PM—I would be in massive trouble.  I had done the drive from Pittsburgh to New York a few times before so I had some confidence to make good time.

It is a scheduling nightmare the certain Monday and Thursday baseball games on the condensed nights of the MLB when you are chasing this record.

There were not too many other nights I could see the Pirates playing.  Again I was thinking about the July.9th restart option.

I was happy to see a quick 5th and 6th inning.  The only thing that made me happier then that—was the game went the last 5 innings—only with one hit, and no runs after 17 runs in the 1st four innings. The last 5 innings only elapsed 40 more minutes in time.

I thanked the ushers for signing my logbook and ran out of the southwest corner near the ‘Clemente Bridge.’  I was happy at this moment it was Pittsburgh—as the crowd was smaller to navigate back to the highway.  I had 7 hours in order to make it there for an hour before my flight.

I had prepaid the parking fare in the business garage, and was horrified to see the PT Cruiser I had rented the previous week in New York had now been keyed by someone.  I was relieved that I had added the extra insurance to the car rental-which I usually forego however, because of the New York City garage experience the last time I had been to New York—I took the insurance.

This was still a concern.  The car rental place would certainly want to discuss this.  Just like some other rentals the scratches were not too visible and for a minute I thought they had been there the whole time.  The scratches were on the passenger side so I had not seen that area much in the week.  I pressed on.

I was revving on adrenaline as the time and miles wore away.  I stopped at the edge of NJ State to stop for gas.  All I had to do was go through the Lincoln Tunnel merge onto the ‘FDR’—in order to merge onto the 495-S Long Island Expressway.  It was just after 4:40 AM-when I was headed for the tunnel.

“You have got be friggin kiddin me!!!! I yelled as I approached the tunnel which was closed for construction.  I was at a loss for what was next.  I knew the FDR would take me to the bridge I needed to take over.  I then remembered the “Holland Tunnel” would work.  I starting making way in that direction as panic set in.  It was only starting to become daylight.  At 5:00 AM-I made it to ‘Times Sqaure.’  I then finally made it to the FDR before merging onto the 495—and was on the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway within reason.

Then the fun began.  LGA is an airport dropped into a rural neighborhood.  I made it to the airport okay—the problem was the car rental place was up the street.  I arrived into ‘Thrifty Car Rental’ at 5:25 AM-with the flight leaving at six sharp I had a chance at that point.

I was on the shuttle bus awaiting the driver to leave for the airport which would have taken about 5 minutes—maybe another 10 minutes for early morning security and then I would have 10 minutes to run to the gate.  The shuttle was away.

“Yes, I am going to make it,” I pronounced—it would be the closest miss yet.  The shuttle driver had informed me that there was not much of a lineup for people traveling without checked baggage.  The sun popped out and all of a sudden I loved New York City.  Despite a small detour, I had overcome it by feeling out my way through it like I did as a courier back home.

A knock on the loading window stopped the shuttle bus smooth–and a grey haired, tall lanky old man with glasses came on the bus and pointed in my direction.  “There is damage to your Cruiser. We need you to fill out an accident report.”

“Sir, I have full insurance and have a plane to catch, there is no time.  I will be back this way next week watching a baseball game at Shea Stadium can I fill it out then?”

“Son, I could get in serious trouble for that.  If you hurry there is another shuttle leaving in 5 minutes.”

I knew if I left the shuttle I would miss my flight.  The only saving grace was that ‘Air Tran Airways’ are nice enough to their travelers—by letting them fly stand by on remaining flights to their original destination should they miss their flight.  It was a stand-by option good for one day only.  I knew there were two more flights to Dallas that day—both had a lengthy stop over in Atlanta.  The first flight arrived in Dallas at 3:30 PM.  I had designated that flight the first time I was going to book the flight.  I then mistakenly thought the drive from Pittsburgh was only 5.5 hours-like it was from my brother’s house to PNC Park.  I had the two confused in my final booking of the flight!

I opted for the earlier flight because I would arrive in Dallas at 11:00 AM-and could check into the Motel 6 right away to catch up sleep.

I filled out the accident report and made the next shuttle to LGA. Like I was a possessed addict chasing an addiction I ran to the ticket window at ‘Air Tran’.  It was 5:45 AM.  The system had already shut me out of the flight.  I ran to the window were a mid-40’s gentleman was typing a keyboard and looking at me running at the same time.

“Flight to DFW right?” he questioned, he knew the answer.

“Yeah, I thought that you could print out the tickets up to 10 minutes before?” I answered, somehow gaining a glimmer of hope that he could radio ahead, stop the plane until I got there.  I heard stories growing up of this happening.

“Actually you need to be in the boarding area 10 minutes prior to gates closing-we cut off the boarding passes 20 minutes before sorry.”

“Ah, man.”  I was pissed, I half-wanted to race back to the car rental facility and drag the manager out into the street and beat him to a pulp.  “How does the next flight look to Dallas?”

“Lemme check that for you.”  The man typed quickly as he could, a man who was late for the same flight I was—came in line to be helped next.  “The flight is oversold and there are 7 people on the waiting list ahead of you.”

If there is one thing I know is waiting for stand-by on flights.  My step-mom had worked in the airline industry for 25 years.  I was able to fly whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted provided there were available seats.  7 seats was a lot for a 9:00 AM Flight.  It would have been different if it was the flight I had just missed.  I had to try it.  New York traffic had swallowed me up that morning, maybe it would swallow up others.  “Print me the pass, I will try.”

“You never know sir you might also get a family that does not want to fly separately. You are a single traveler so you have a better chance than others.”

I grabbed my new boarding pass and headed trough security, and pressed onward to the gate.  There was not much open for breakfast so I was happy to have polished off that huge pizza in Pittsburgh the night before.  I needed to call the airlines to see if I could arrange other travel arrangements to Dallas.

I searched for the internet at ‘LGA’ which was non-existent at that time.  I called every airline up.  It was going to be $600 or $700.  Day of flight’s prices sky rocket on same day sales.  My plan was simple now.  I would see if I made the next flight before another decision was to be made.  I called Visa in the meantime and I was appalled to see that I had little credit left with all of the pre-authorizations against the car and hotel rentals.  I was awaiting a payment to go through as well.  I had $450 left.   I was stuck.  Not only was I in danger of missing my game in Texas—but my streak reset needed to start over in San Diego the next day.

It was a lost cause at ‘LGA’ and I left the airport at 10:00 AM-by boarding what I thought was a charter bus in between ‘LGA’ and “JFK.” I wanted to be at JFK in case I was stranded-since there were more amenities and late night domestic flights.  At 10:30 AM-the charter bus let me off downtown in Manhattan.

“Wait a second I purchased a bus-ride all the way to JFK.”  I said to a heavy set German fellow.

“You boarded the wrong bus.”  The man replied.

“No I didn’t.” I was right–the man had forgotten to switch the template on the bus signage based on what I had seen back at ‘LGA’- he had deceived me.

“I paid for a ticket to JFK, and that is what your sign said.  I know you are going to try and stiff me,” I was being rude back to the rude New York people now, “so why don’t you tell me how I get to JFK, it has been a brutal morning.”

The man radioed a bus a block away, “hold the bus for a minute, I need to drop a passenger for you to take to JFK, I made a mistake, no charges either.”  The man actually smiled and nodded at me.  I was relieved but knew that New Yorkers were good at nearly breaking you and then surprising you with doing the right thing.

I made it to JFK at noon in the hot heat, it was approaching 90F.  I was still not ahead of the game.  Like LGA-JFK did not have internet accessible terminals anywhere.  I was running out of options.  I called my buddy Dan Dion

Dan Dion and his brother Justin had given me the time off delivering newspapers for the trip.  I had known them both for eight years.  Justin was doing one of my routes for me while I was away.  I had to forfeit the second route because of the timing, but was promised a different route when I returned in August.

Dan was in Langley, British Colombia, and was in front of his computer.

“Dude, It’s me, missed my flight to Dallas because of an idiot car rental worker and a bridge closed for construction, I need your help, are you online?”

“Ya, I am online right how. Where are you?”

“I am on the Air-Tram at JFK circling the gates and don’t know where to go because I don’t have a plane ticket yet, I need you to go to the site www.kayak.com.”

“10-4 man.”

“Man, I am glad you are home.  Okay click on the flights icon and then enter JFK letter into the: ‘from part’-and ‘SAN’ letters in the: ‘to’ part, and don’t forget to make this a one-way flight.”

“How is it in the big crapple?” Dan was laughing and typing at the same time.

“Dude, this is a brutal city sometimes, good thing I always had the reset option, knew I was probably going to need it after that Philly/New York doubleheader miss anyway.”  Some girl left here tote-bag on the seat next to me and I was going to hand it in.

Some old man freaked out on me saying I was stealing it.  All this was happening while awaiting results.

“Cheapest flight is $545.”

“Not good, okay try LAX from JFK, I need to return there tomorrow night anyway so it will work for a car rental.”  The man scoffed a look of disgust at me again.  If I was not on a good will ambassador tour I would have sworn at him for his ignorance.

A few seconds elapsed, “Dude, I got an American Airlines flight leaving at eight your time arriving at just after eleven in LA-price is $160.”

“That is awesome, book that dude, click on it for me and I will give my  credit card number to buy it-and then you can give me the confirmation code, then I will need to hit Budget Car Rental’s site next.”

Dan helped me for the next fifteen minutes and I was now going somewhere again.  I had several hours before the flight to kill.  I was fortunate enough to have the reset option.  The new attempt was still 30-26 days.  I had a grueling stretch of 4 doubleheader attempts in 5 days: SD Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by a Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians attempt; followed by Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Brewers; then Toronto isolated by itself before a Washington Nats/New York Mets attempt to hit the all-star break.

If all were hit all games I would be at 9 games in 5 days, even with the 3 day penalty for the all-star break I would have a chance on the other side of it.  I arrived in LAX without a hitch.

I had just enough credit on my visa to rent the car and I had $150 cash.  I knew there was lots of deposit money coming off by the next night at midnight eastern time.  I had to make it the next 24 hours with the money I had.  There was $30 for parking/probably $20 for gas and $100 left for food and shelter.  I drove to San Diego right away.  I tried the Motel 6-but no there was no vacancy.  I wish I would have known about the hostel downtown then.  I decided to keep all my money.  I had an idea to shower at a ‘YMCA’ in the morning.  Besides I had to spend money on batteries for the digital camera-plus I needed some health and beauty aids.

I ate 7-Eleven food for dinner and drove around San Diego for a few hours before resting at a ‘Rite-Aid.’  I slept for a few hours and finally it was open.

A homeless man was outside and needed some money bad to eat.   I only had $60 left after the drugstore but decided to give him $5. He was so thankful.  I talked to him about my day in New York City.

He informed me that my day was about to change for the better.  After I drove away somehow I finally believed it.

Streak Attempt #2

Game#1 Day #1

Petco Park

San Diego, CA 

Thurs July.09/2008

After watching 11 games in 11 days-that were both before-and during the 1st streak attempt-I was back to square one.  At eight in the morning I had made my way to the YMCA, during which I did some light jogging and then had a much needed shower and only had to pay $8.  I was happy to see the sun was shining and for once so weather would not play a factor.

It was my third ever game to the San Diego’s Petco Park.  I parked for $12 in a nearby garage-surveying the street to see which way I would exit onto Highway 5 North after the game.  I made my way with over 31,000 fans that day to watch the Padres play the Florida Marlins.

Petco Park has the color blue all over the stadium for seats and there are intermittent breaks in the background for the downtown buildings to be displayed.  ‘The Western Metal Supply Building’ is on the third base foul side of the park, this is where the banner hung for all of Trevor Hoffman’s saves.  It seemed to have bolstered the loudest and craziest fans of the yard.

I particularly liked sitting in the left field bleachers because you are kind of isolated all by yourself in the area.  The center field area is an open area to walk past the fences that feature a park in right center field to watch games at but there are no direct bleacher seats from left center field all the way around.

Petco Park is definitely the most dog-friendly park in the Majors which is a real big surprise right?  You can buy tickets for just the park access to watch the game for under $10.  The 1st base side second deck has a big overhang on an angle over the lower section.  Open space is a nice quality to a brand new ballpark.

I was sitting in the grandstand seats along the 1st base side.  I had purchased seats to the game back in March-so I had received 50% of the face value price.  What was a $40 ticket became $20.  On this visit, it was $1 hotdog and pop day—Petco Park is home to ‘WienerSchnitzel hotdogs’ which are really good.  Maybe only New York and Los Angeles have better hotdogs.

CARL’S JR. is a tasty alternative for burgers and fries-and Petco Park probably has the best Ice Cream Parlor in the Majors on the second level of the 1st base side.  I also love the ‘frozen Minute Maid Lemonades,’ the vendors sell as well.

One thing I noticed upon entering is that there are little scoreboards in the grandstand which reveal the score and amount of outs/inning.  This is a must for any new ball park.  I was watching the players warm up when my cell phone rang—it was ‘Stub-hub’—they were concerned I had not sent a ticket to a buyer that I had listed with them, to a future ‘Phillies game.’

It turned out they had sent me a wrong bill of lading with the call letter of CA for California instead of Canada.  Since I had them on the phone I began to ask them questions.

“Wait a second. I have listed like forty tickets with you guys and I wondered why my tickets have not been selling since they were about 40% of the face value,” I was afraid of the answer because I knew it right then. “Since I am a Canadian do you charge American buyers the International shipping rate even though I go across the border to send them via FED EX?”  I crossed over to Washington State all the time to send tickets by mail since it was cheaper.

The man cleared his throat and the other line, “Yes we do, we charge $26.95 per ticket.”

“Jesus Christ,” I blurted out, again not proud of it but it was a stupid error on their part that was killing my ability to sell these tickets.  “That is so brutal.  I liked you guys up until now, don’t you think you should have had some disclaimer mentioning this when I listed my ticket as a Canadian seller.”

The man fumbled for an answer.

“Had I known this I would have donated all of those tickets to charity, seriously man that is a major mistake on your company’s behalf.  You should really change that in the future because it would be nice to know.”  I was infuriated and the baseball game was about to start and I had to let this guy go but it brought the streak hardships to life.  No matter what is going on your life you have to leave it on the outside.  I had to learn to let go.  It is much like a baseball batting average, in that you have to fail a lot of times to succeed.  There were many financial expenses that I could not control and would fall on my lap as this chase continued.  I was able to breathe after talking myself down.

On the polar opposite of Stubhub were my Air Miles ticket vouchers for the Toronto Blue Jays.  This side business was providing to be a godsend, averaging $250 US Dollars a week—even while I was on this chase.  It had turned out to be a great idea to cash the Miles in for these tickets as opposed to using all of the miles for ‘Best Western Hotel Gift Cards’ as was the original idea.  I was able to be paid through ‘Pay-Pal’ and then make a payment directly onto my credit card.  It was saved my bacon one more time at the end of the trip which I will describe later on.

The baseball game moved as smooth as the games do in the National League.  I was learning the value of the games in the ‘Senior Circuit’ being extremely faster with the pitchers spot in the lineup killing rallies.  I watched Hanley Ramirez and Mike Jacobs hit moonbeam homers off of the Padres pitching in rolling to a 5-2 Marlins win—in a game that was over in 2 hours and 41 minutes.  I was in great shape. It was only 3:15 PM, so I had four hours to arrive at ‘Dodger Stadium.   The traffic was heavy at times but I made it to the park at 6:00 PM sharp.

Game#2 Day#1

Dodger Stadium

Los Angeles, CA

July.09/2008

I must be one of the only people who like the set-up of the parking at Dodger Stadium.  Yes it is traffic laden and takes forever to merge onto the I-110 OR I-101 but it actually is nice for someone out of town to not have any options to park.  I first had been to the park on my birthday in 2006.

That day I took a bus from ‘Disneyland’ for two hours in order make it to the game on time.  I also had to leave in the 7th inning-in order to catch the last bus back to Anaheim.  It is a hard park to get there, but I had a car on this day and didn’t mind at all.

I walked up the many stairs it took to reach the ‘Top Deck Level’ stairs.  There were pictures of all the ballplayers on the wall and fences surrounding the entire park.  The same can be said inside as all of the current 25-man roster have full photo’s in the concourses.  For such a huge stadium, the space serves the baseball club well with an intimate setting of the mountains.  I honestly would rather sit on the top level in order to see everything that I possibly could.

I bought yet another ‘Dodger Dog, and a ‘Super pretzel’ before game time, I remembered the previous year about how long it took to order concession food once the game started.  When they constructed this park in the 1950’s they were smart enough to limit the rows of seats to between 8-12 on the lower levels and this about the same up top.

For this reason alone it is rather easy to access your seats without asking people to stand up for you.

I watched as 6 beach balls were being bounced around the park at the same time while batting practice was going on.  When the game starts, the ushers steadfastly go after the beach balls.  Each security guard actually cars a sharp object to obliterate the balls once they catch them.  It turns out be an endless battle all game long between the fans and the parks staff.

I polished off my food and asked the security guard in my section to sign my logbook sheet before the game started.  He ultimately refused. I was astounded.  I asked if they had a customer service window to ask if anyone on staff could vouch for my existence at the park that day—still no help.  I took an elevator to the lower levels and actually passed the historic announce of booth of ‘Vin Scully.’  Finally a nice young lady signed my book and asked me to return after the game to get the next signature from her as well.  It took me 10 minutes from the time I left my seat, but I was happy to have seen more of the stadium.

I still needed a relatively quick game.  I had a 1:30 AM flight out of LAX to Detroit city and figured I had about an hour drive to the airport when you accounted for traffic.

I was in decent shape—yet the last time I was at this park the Cincinnati Reds battled the Dodgers for 16 innings.  I actually made it back to my hotel room in Anaheim to see the last inning after leaving in the 7th inning.  The subsequent 2 hour bus ride back I had listened to the game on a hand held radio.  I wanted this game to be over by 10 PM tonight.

There is something to be said about seeing new things at the ballpark you have never seen before.  This game actually did not produce a hit until 27 outs were recorded-and after the 1st hit of the game was still scoreless in the middle of the 6th inning.  These were new to me.  Derek Lowe of the LA Dodgers took a perfect game into the seventh.  Tim Hudson of the Atlanta Braves retired the first 12 batters he saw.  I was the beneficiary of all of this.  The game was only an hour old when it was in the 6th inning.

I saw the best and worst of the Dodgers fans in one plate appearance by fallen superstar Andruw Jones.

He was booed continuously every time he came up for his year long slump.  Then the fans went ballistic for him when he hit a seeing-eye single for the games 1st lead and later broke up a double play by sliding really hard.  They gave the man a standing ovation just for his effort.  No building has ever been as loud in any game I have been to when Dodger Stadium is full.   The game was over in two hours smooth.  I made it to the airport by 11:30 PM.  An all night flight would be a good spot to catch up on sleep.  It was a good first day of the second streak.

Game#3 Day#2

Comerica Park

Detroit, MI

July.10/2008

I had talked to Alexandra Bahou multiple times over the 1st few weeks of my trip.  She was a freelance reporter for the ‘Detroit Free Press’.  It was one of the many media outlets I had reached out to before the trip started.  Alexandra was very thorough in her work and had researched every detail about the ‘Guinness Book Of World Record’ claim rules.  Of course I had told her about the criteria.

—I had submitted a list of the scheduled dates on a master grid that read as a depth chart for each day I was on the road.

—I filled out an official application for the attempt which needed to be faxed to the headquarters of ‘GWR’ in the UK.

—I had to list why I was trying to achieve this record and for what charity.

When that was all accepted the ‘GWR’ sent me a list of all rules and lists of evidence I needed to turn in once the attempt was completed.  I had studied them very well.  The key points were;

—For any sporting event for it to be valid you must attend every single play for the duration of the event.  This meant you had to be on the buildings property for 1st play until last-and have someone be able to document that you were there.  This included video and pictured evidence to back up the personal witnesses list.  Any delays due to inclement weather or any other act of god would not give you the ability to leave early at all.  Also with this you must be in the venue for the entire match.  You could not come in for the 1st play and then leave the facility until the last portion of the event.  If the contest was suspended for any reason you would need to come back whenever the event was to be completed and it would still be retroactive to the start of the game.

—You were not allowed to enter the same venue twice within the dates of the intended attempt. You must complete all other venues for the other teams 1st before returning afterwards.  An example of this would be if I were to already have gone to a baseball game in Milwaukee and then watch a game in Chicago on another day—I would not be allowed to watch any play at all in Milwaukee even though I could physically for time wise have done it.  This was quite prominent in that Chicago game in the 1st streak attempt when it was raining while there was a tie score of 5-5-before AJ Pierzynski hit that walk off in the hailing rain.

Should I have attempted to make the second game of a doubleheader and not made it for 1st pitch-I would not be able to enter the building because I would not see every play.  Just like when I stayed for the entire Phillies game with the rain delay.  I could not even leave when they had finished 9 innings tied.

I actually asked if I had watched every play at the all-star game at Yankee Stadium that year if it would qualify for a one of the 30 baseball stadiums—since it was within the calendar of my streak chase.  I was denied this request as it is still to be every single baseball club’s home steam in MLB.  It could not even be an instance—where the same two teams were playing a makeup game at a different venue—even though they alternated being the home team for the doubleheader.

You better hope your all stadiums are in operation when the attempt starts (anybody remember Olympic Stadium and the Kingdome?).  I would have been out of luck when Montreal Expos played in Puerto Rico also—since that was not considered their home park because they only played 20 games there.

—You were not allowed to break any law in order to carry out your record attempt.  Not that it mattered anymore-but my wreck less driving ticket might have played a factor into the attempt now that I look back on it.  This meant you could not speed while driving.  Of course the terms were subject to negotiate.

By the time I reached the parking lot it was 12:37 PM. The forced construction zones almost cost me the 1st pitch.  Alexandra was ready for me I neared the entrance to Comerica.  She was well versed on the angles of the park and had been instructing her cameramen before I reached there.

“Wow, you were really close to not making it on time Chuck.”  Alexandra extended her hand out for a shake before retreating.

“Yeah it should have been a 20 minute drive.  Anyways I am here and ready to go.”  I noticed her press credentials, and she was similar in appearance to how she sounded.  I was dead tired with the stress of missing 1st pitch.  I knew the Detroit highways fairly well having been in and out of the city 4 times within a year.  It just goes to show you that you can never bank on a smooth ride to the park.

“Well good you made it.”

There was a crowd gathering around the camera and suddenly I felt important that the ‘Detroit free Press’ was covering my quest.  This was a culmination of the hard work I had done finally paying off with the emails to all media outlets I could think of.  I wish I did not look so terribly health wise and appearance.  My cargo pants were crimped at the seams from the airport ride.  I was wearing my black baseball cap and my generic t-shirt.

“I am just going to follow you around the park for a few innings Chuck, is there also a time we can talk about your quest while not in the stands?

“Just let me have the people I need to verify me sign my logbook.”

“No problem, where are you sitting?”

“Right in Kaline’s Corner for $10, the seat is along the 1st baseline near the merging of the right field fence and foul line.  They are probably the best value.”  I felt the summer heat beating on my face and knew the day was sure to be hot.

Today’s plan was to watch the game in Detroit and then drive the 168 miles to Cleveland in time for a game at Progressive Field.  I had driven this highway 7 times in the last 18 months so I was fairly confident in my ability to make the right turns.  Making the first pitch in Cleveland still required some good luck.  The map I had said it would take about 3 hours in traffic to make the first pitch.  I needed a quick game in Detroit and leave preferably by 4:00 PM.  I always figured whatever time I lost near the cities I would make up on the freeway.

The Highways I-80/90/94 and I-75 are all busy but also feature fast lanes.  I drove from Detroit to Chicago in four hours on similar terrain the previous summer.  I was thinking about all of this while the game started in Comerica Park with a camera following me around.

I remembered my first visit to Comerica Park.  I was impressed with the Parkade across the street from the ballpark featuring a Sky Bridge to the game after I parked.

I noticed how nice the park was when I began circling the concourse.  Settling in the downtown area I was not so sure but it is an incredible display of space. The landmarks that are past all out field were a sight to see.  Since it was Detroit, there were three premium cars on display near the big ‘General Motors Sign’ that was adjacent on both sides to beautiful brick that had the retired numbers of the Detroit Tigers.

The Left Field bleachers feature the retired numbers of Al Kaline, Willie Horton were out there and then I noticed that Ty Cobb’s name was on the wall and did not have a number.  It donned on me that Cobb played even before they had numbers.

Below the cars were perfectly manicured trees shrubs that were surrounded by waterfalls that also shoot up water in the background.  Out on in right field there is a section called ‘Pepsi Porch’ which has a huge neon sign prominently shown.  In the distance was a big beaming radio sign called ‘Fox Tower’.  I have seen all the ballparks and it is my honest opinion that besides ‘AT&T Park’ in San Francisco—it is the most photogenic baseball park at night.

Around the concourse there is many fan interaction games such as live batting practice and speed guns for pitching base balls.  The history of the team is captured with great photos of yesteryear—and there are many spots to buy old paintings, pictures that are nicely framed, and there are also several collector cards.

Comerica’s food is highlighted by ‘Little Caesars Pizza’ which is almost like home for me because I worked 5 years for the chain in the late 90’s.  Familiar smells infiltrated my nostrils as I walked past the concessions.  The park is easily viewable from many spots on the concourse.

The fans are amongst the most knowledgeable in baseball and they are pretty hard on visiting ball clubs and their fans.  It is not a place to wear other team’s gear from head to toe.  To me, if I can possibly avoid it, I never like to wear other teams gear into the home ballparks anyway.  Just like the 7th inning stretch says ‘to root, root–root for the home team…  Now I may not do that either, but cheering for the visiting team is not something I partake in much.

The ‘Tiger’s’ that are on the huge scoreboards look great.

The crowd usually gets revved up for the game when the music is turned on loud.  ‘Detroit Rock City,’ by ‘KISS’ is the favorite amongst the locals-but they are also energized by local boy Bob Seger’s catalogue of music.

I walked out of the stands to be interviewed by Alex.  I was in the ballpark when I had to be to start the game and now could take a breather from the live action to do this interview right.  On the field, the Minnesota Twins were the visitors in this ‘AL Central’ matchup.  It was also nice to buy and drink cold lemonade while sitting in the shaded area of the picnic benches.   I knew Kenny Rogers was pitching versus Kevin Slowey so there was a chance for a quick game with the ‘The Gambler’ being a quick strike thrower.

Alex, the Detroit Free Press Reporter, had let her cameramen leave the park and she would take any additional video should a situation present itself.

“So Chuck, how did you arrive here from Los Angeles?”  Alex asked.

I was happy to see she was a regular person.  A plain white shirt with blue jeans and running shoes was what she was wearing.  I figured she was about the same age I was.

“I took an all night flight from LAX. It was a non-stop that left at 1:30 AM and arrived late after 11 AM.”

“Wow, when do you have time to sleep during this ordeal?”

I laughed, “Mostly on flights.”

“So what game is this then?”  Alex pulled out a mini-micro-voice recorder. She had told me she would be doing this as I had agreed.

“Actually this is game number 3 of day #2 since I had to restart the streak over.”  I went over the New York debacle again and the subsequent flight to Los Angeles.  I told her that it was a good thing that I had the option to reset the streak when I did.  That there were no regrets, I told her that the day I had yesterday had set me back on a straight path.  I told her about Jim Maclaren’s story.  I told her about my renewed vigor to streak on.  I was a lot more adept to chaos then I had been when I started this trip.  I left the interview feeling great.  There was a four minute video clip posted online while the game was still being played.

Alex had followed me around the ballpark for the first six innings before leaving.  I ate a Pepperoni Pizza from Little Caesars, pitched and hit baseball’s even though I was exhausted physically, and had returned back to my seat by the top of the 7th.  It was 6-2 for the Tigers and I was pleased at the pace of game.  It was barely after 3 PM.  Alex left and promised to follow up with phone calls and more articles on her end.  I was very pleased with the effort she had put forth.  I would check out the piece she was posting online later.  My attention was diverted back to the game.

My car was only a three minute sprint down the street from the big ‘Tigers’ in front of the baseball park, conveniently near the I-75 South Highway.  While I had a brutal time arriving at the park-my exit strategy was more concrete, I just needed the game to end.

Minnesota had plated runs in the 7th and 8th to trail 6-4.  I was worried but it looked okay when Todd Jones entered in the 9th,   then a bloop-single brought the tying runner to the plate.  The Twins leadoff man was on, and I was worried that a homer would tie the game.  After a few batters and an out there was no homer, but Todd Jones could not throw strikes and fell behind the next batter before giving up another hit.  Then Joe Mauer pinch hit for the lead off hitter.  A sacrifice fly was hit and the game was 6-5 with a runner on 1st base.

The next batter Casilla was up and a runner on 2nd with 2 out.  I was halfway up the concourse—ready to take a quick picture of the scoreboard, have a fellow fan sign the logbook—and then race to the car.  It was only 3:49 PM.  This was doable. I watched in disgust as Casilla singled in the tying run.  I was elated the next batter Kubel singled for runners on 1st and second.  Then Justin Morneau walked and bases were loaded with 2 out.

While I was not happy to lose 15 minutes or so in the process I was hoping that the Twins would score and Joe Nathan was to close the bottom of the Ninth.

Instead the next batter did not make contact-and the game went to the bottom of the ninth tied.  The time was 4:03 PM.  This was all too familiar.  I knew when the Detroit Tigers did not score in the 9th I was cooked for the double header.

Justin Morneau mercifully ended the game in front of 41,500 fans in the 11th at 5:07 PM.  I had failed yet another doubleheader attempt.  It hurt.  I knew the new streak would have to be altered.  I spent 4 hours at a hotel nearby freeloading free internet in order to make the changes.  I had to spend an additional $300 on 3 flights to change the trip.  I switched the Cleveland Indians game to a make it up on the 28th.  It was not the end of the world. I moved the intended Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox games also to make it happen.  I had researched this probability all along so I could absorb it.  The streak could only be 30-27 now.

I email messaged everyone I had to and drove on to Milwaukee.  I would have been doing nearly the same drive back west from Cleveland that I was doing going east to Milwaukee.  I was tired and rested for a few hours when I reached the Wisconsin border.  I had a big day ahead of me the next day.  I could not suffer another doubleheader set back.

Game#4 Day#3

Wrigley Field

Chicago, IL

July.11/2008

I had been on the road for 3 days without being at a hotel or sleeping in a bed thanks to that New York fiasco.  Thankfully that night I would have a hotel room in Milwaukee to sleep in for a few hours after the Cubs/Brewers double header attempt.

Before I had reached the Wisconsin border—I had to take the Detroit car rental to O’Hare Airport back.  At 5 AM in the morning I could pick up the new rental in Chicago, and then had to bring that specific car back the next morning at 5 AM.  It was a continuous cycle of 24 hour rentals to consider as to not be charged for a second day. In my planning stages of the trip I had discovered a ‘loophole’ in Kayak’s car rental prices.  A one-way car rental fee usually runs extremely high charges from city to city—so here  was way to the avoid the excruciating fee by circumventing the rules.

You just needed to rent cars from the one city’s airport-and return to another city’s airport within a 24 hour time limit.  The fee was 10-15% higher then a daily rate, but so much less then the usual one way drop fee.

If you booked the car one minute past 24 hours the second day would retroactive the 1st day back to include the huge fee for a one-way rental and lump both days with that high drop-off rate, meaning hundreds of dollars difference just by one mere minute.  Time management was vital to saving money along with scheduling.

I arrived at the ‘Amtrak Station’ right near the Milwaukee Airport (MKA).  I had scouted this route of travel.  I was tipped off how to elude traffic by a member of the Chicago Cubs PR staff.  Amtrak was the way to go.  After further investigation I discovered this itinerary.

Leave Milwaukee via train at 11:10 PM

Arrive at Chicago Union Station at 12:29 PM.

Walk to the ‘Clinton Station Blue’ line towards ‘O Hare’ 12:35 PM

Arrive at Monroe Station to transfer to the ‘Red Line Howard’ train.  I made it to this station at 12:46 PM.

I waited 6 minutes to board the train and make it to the ‘Addison’ Stop at 1:11 PM-which gave me 9 minutes to first pitch.

I was supposed to have made the train 3 hours earlier but I needed to rest. The car was nicely parked back in Milwaukee at the Amtrak Station for a quick getaway after the return train.  Sedan car service was to pick me up after the game at Wrigley before driving to Union Station in Chicago.

The return trip was as follows:

I needed to make it the ‘CHI’ train station by 5:00 PM-to board the 5:10 PM train-to arrive back at the airport station in Milwaukee by 6:35 PM.  I would then have 35 minutes to make 1st pitch at Miller Park.

Since I had a few hours to kill in Milwaukee that morning I did a trial run to the park from the airport station following the directions of what I had learned from my 1st trip to Miller Park.  National Avenue was the best way to drive off of HWY 94-E right to the ballpark.

It was now 1:11 PM-and like exact clock work I entered the historic ballpark of ‘Wrigley Field.’ Just like the 1st time I was at Wrigley Field I was in complete awe of the park.  The 1st thing you notice is that there is no signage on the field at all.  No billboards.  There is the classic scoreboard past the ‘Green Ivy Fences.’  Recently they have put in a Replay Monitor in connection with the scoreboard.  I am always surprised on how small the park really is in the stands and in the concourse.  It is hard if you are a big guy like myself but the park makes up for everything.

I will put up with the high prices for parking and tickets for the pleasure of watching the game for its true essence. The stores inside the park have something for every budget demographic to always take something home from this park when it comes to souvenirs.  The food is reasonably priced and there is never a shortage of vendors roaming the stands with hot dogs and drinks.

‘Wrigley-Ville the community” is how this franchise has been able to maximize their earning potential without having a modern amenities park.  There is basically a whole community around the ball yard that is dependant on the club to build its revenue streams and vice versa.  Since the baseball park had no more space for fans—neighboring buildings created their own stands by adding seats to their buildings.  Soon after that, pubs and restaurant sprung up in high rise form and the Cubbies are able to make money from all of it.  The crowd control is managed by cordoning off the streets nearby—to let the ball park fans walk around freely and safely within these buildings.

Chicago’s fans are the most loyal in baseball.  The team has not won a World Series in over 100 years and the home games are always sold out.  It is the biggest draw in the majors when it comes to events.  The baseball game is almost secondary.  Again this is not to suggest that the fans don’t care because they do.  They are knowledgeable and follow their players religiously.  It just means that the park is so gorgeous that a day at the park is still awesome if the team loses.

The scenery is fantastic.  Since there is not a lot of signs and such, I found the foul poles to really standout.  I like sitting underneath the ‘Grandstand’ to watch the games.  You should really take a full day to experience this community.  I am going to return one day to do this very thing.

I had to make sure I was focused on today.  While most people were soaking up the entire day, I was hoping the game would end fast so I could leave Wrigley Field in enough time to make my train.  I truly wished that is was the other way around—that I would have started the day in Milwaukee and ended up to see the Cubbies play at night.  I was here now so there was no turning back.  At least I had soaked up a lot more of the atmosphere the previous year.

The Chicago Cubs were playing the San Francisco Giants.  Jason Marquis was pitching versus Matt Cain.  It was all the makings of a quick game.  I really preferred the ‘NL’ teams because the pitcher had to hit.  Sure enough I was right, after the top of the 7th inning—the game was going fast, but there was a problem, the game was scoreless heading into the seventh inning stretch.

That event, made famous by legendary broadcaster Harry Caray is best watched at Wrigley.  They now have a guest singer for every game now that Harry is no longer alive.  You can feel the love and presence of his ghost somewhere as the crowd galvanizes in this tradition.

The game was going along fast.  It was only 3 PM.  Heading into the bottom of the eighth there was still no score.  Matt Cain, who had given up only 3 hits, was lifted in the 8th inning.  Tyler Walker entered the game for the Giants and proceeded to give up 2 hits before Aramis Ramirez destroyed a 3 run-homerun.  I was elated at this turn of events.  It was 3-0 Cubs.  As much I was happy I would reserve complete judgment until last pitch considering what had happened in Detroit the day before.

“Here we go again,” I said as Kerry Wood came into the close the game and gave up an ‘RBI’ single to Bengie Molina.  I could not take the nerves, at one point I turned away.

Kerry finally shut the door down-and I was treated to a rendition of ‘Go Cubs Go.’  It is a song they sing after every Chicago home game which is as much of a tradition as throwing back an opposition’s baseball after a home run.  I was caught up in the moment. I took my pictures for verification and was set to meet my sedan driver near the ‘McDonalds’ outside the park.  The game was over so fast I called my sedan driver to see if I could be picked up early.

I was swept with the flowing traffic towards the exit.  It was one thing I really hadn’t accounted for.  Wrigley Field is probably the hardest to exit after a game. It took 15 minutes to arrive at the fast food restaurant after leaving.  A group of spectators had assembled around a man name Ronnie Woo Woo.

For those that have not met this long-time Cubs fan Ronnie, you have not been to many games.   He had been going to games since the 1940’s and is famous for yelling “woo! woo!  Ronnie has had written and video documentaries that detail his life as a long-term fan of the ball club.  The other fans love him dearly and often pose for pictures with him.  I was happy to have met this man briefly while waiting for my sedan driver and how Ronnie ‘embodied’ what it means to support your ball team.  Ronnie said an encouraging word to me and I finally received my phone call from the sedan driver.  He actually saw me from a distance talking to Ronnie.  Thank-You Ronnie!!

We sprinted to the car down the road.  Chicago traffic was a nightmare during Friday traffic and I was glad to not be driving to Milwaukee from the Chicago Area.

The sedan driver was the same fellow who had picked me up from Midway Airport the previous week to complete the Minnesota/Chicago White Sox double header.  I watched the clock as the guy veered in and out of the traffic, making the subtlest of moves just to move one car ahead.  I finally could see ‘Union Station’ and signed my visa bill for $61.  I ran down the escalator to my boarding train flashing my ticket the whole way down.  I made it!

I had to stand, I was sweating profusely, I was much in need of a towel and a drink, but I made it.  There would be no traffic to contend with, I could sit when someone would get off the train at future stops.

Since it was Friday afternoon, there were business men going home for the weekend, families heading to Milwaukee for the weekend, others were going to a nearby town in the same manner as me in avoiding the traffic.  I had spent $39 on my 2-way ticket.  I would have had to park for that much near the park.  It was a 100 miles from Chicago to Milwaukee, along the drive I did I was dinged for around $8.00 worth of tolls collected at various parts along the way.  Some were 80 cents, some were $3.00 and some were only a few miles apart.  I was looking forward to Miller Park.

Game#5 Day#3

Miller Park

Milwaukee, WI

July.11/2008

 After a snickers chocolate bar, that had chased 2 awesome hotdogs at Wrigley Field, I was filled with energy to complete my drive to Miller Park.  The trial run had proved to be effective.  I drove from the airport to the park in 20 minutes.  What was even better was the parking lot at Miller Park was full so I got to park right on the street headed towards Miller Park.  I parked, grabbed my camera and ran to the park with 7-8 minutes to spare from 1st pitch.  I bought tickets to the ‘Bernie’s Dugout Section’ but was in no hurry to go up to the 4th level.

Miller Park’s baseball park staff—(throughout all of my travels to parks,)–have demonstrated the best attitude with their fan base.  They are so kind and friendly they make it feel like you are guests in their home.  I was privy too it when they hosted that series between Cleveland and Los Angeles in 2007 when Cleveland’s home park Progressive Field was buried under a foot of snow.  Miller Park’s staff shined without little notice.  From the other chasers I have spoken with the echo these sentiments exactly.  They are one of the only baseball teams to not only allow tailgate partying—but actually promote it by giving away a beer fridge from ‘Miller Lite’ to the party that demonstrates the most team pride through their surroundings.

The ushers are a proven commodity over and over.  Not only did the staff sign my logbook, they provided home numbers, they also asked for my online websites to promote the streak.

The general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers staff learned of my campaigning for charity and actually took up a collection to send off from all the ushers who wished to participate.  I truly thank all of the kind people and staff from this park for all the continued help and support for me.

Miller Park is perfectly located where it is.  There is lots of parking for $10—and it is easily accessible from the main roads.  There are many physical qualities inside the building.  Much like Safeco Field, it is an open-air-retractable roof–that lends fresh air–and shields the fans of Milwaukee when weather elements would otherwise tarnish their fan experience.  The ‘Miller’ name is all over the park.  Bright neon signs are located in right field with a beer clock. The scoreboard in centerfield brightens up the background of glass windows in the back drop.  In left field, and in the upper deck, there is Bernie’s Dugout.  Above the dugout are the stairs that lead Bernie to the top of his yellow slide he burns down when the home town hits a homerun over the fence.  In the intermittent times he is flanked by two cheerleaders on either side of him—in his dugout dancing, interacting  and urges with the fans to participate in cheer.

The parks levels are easy to maneuver up and down with spacious escalators.  Don’t forget to watch for the famous sausage race in the game!  Milwaukee’s fans are also exceptional.  I have never had so much fun watching a game as to one of those hosted Cleveland and Los Angeles games.  The Milwaukee fans are known to crazy waves to have fun in the stands.  They start off with a slow-motion wave, where it is a normal wave, (with about a quarter of the speed)-and then they have an ultra fast wave to show the other side of the spectrum.  It is unique, fun and I give the city full marks for initiative.

What I liked is that everyone seemed to know this tradition.  The crowd also sings the song ‘Over the Barrel’ during the seventh inning stretch right after: ‘Take Me out to the Ballgame.’

So I made the double header, ate bratwurst and a hamburger for dinner, and watched the ‘Brew Crew’ take an early lead but fall later on in the game to the Cincinnati Reds and Ken Griffey Jr.  I got to see Bernie fall down the slide, and see the sausage race in the sixth inning.  I don’t remember who won that race but it was hilarious including several of the sausages falling.  What was important was that I had now seen 5 baseball games in 3 days.

I drove the 10 miles and checked into my hotel.  I had won a Priceline bid on this given hotel for $17 for the night and it was an ‘Extended Stay Of America Hotel” in Wauwatosa.  It was ideal for my needs.  I had a long hot-shower, completed some laundry and was ready to sleep.  It would not be a long sleep however.  4 hours later I needed to be on the road.  I was flying into Toronto in the morning for a Saturday matinee versus the New York Yankees.

Game#6 Day#4

The Rogers Center

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

July.12/2009

I was tired, as it had been two weeks since I started going to baseball games and by far this stretch of doubleheader attempts was the gruesome part of the schedule.  In the streaks infant stage of planning I had thought about a crazy idea to add a 5th double header attempt in consecutive days-with a Toronto day game and Pittsburgh night game.  It wasn’t impossible but I gave it a 30% chance to happen.  The Toronto game started at 1:07 PM and the non-stop flight left at 5:05 PM.  I would have needed the game over by 3:45 PM and have little weekend traffic.  Now I do have a priority boarding pass through international security that we call ‘Air Nexus’ so that was in my favor as well.  There was only one thing.

Before I had started this streak attempt the original design this trip had was visiting each ballpark in six weeks—this included watching a baseball game with each one of my blood family relatives.  I was going to see 4 games with my 3 brothers and dad later in the month.

This game was set aside for me to watch a baseball game with my mother.  I bought her ticket even before I had bought my tickets.  The itinerary was this.

8:29 AM—My mom was arriving from Montreal Quebec Canada, she would have to wait at the airport by herself for an hour before I arrived.

9:30 AM—I was to arrive.  I had pre-ordered a two way limo service to meet us at the airport and drive us right to the game.  My mom was nursing a broken ankle and as such it was tough to move around.  This eliminated all worries.

10:00 AM—We would arrive at the Rogers Center and we were to have had a wheelchair provided for my mom.  The Toronto Blue Jays had arranged a tour through the ballpark before the game including field access.  My Mom and I were going to meet some of the Toronto players.  All of this had been pre-arranged for weeks.  Also teams that had contacted me about similar tours were: Texas, Boston, SF Giants and Cincinnati.

1:07 PM—The game would start, while I was glad to be with my mom at Rogers Center-we still needed a quick game as we both of us had flights out of town starting at 6:30 PM-with me to New Jersey airport (EWR), while my mom had a flight back to Montreal at 7:30 PM.

I had spent lots of money in order for this day to happen.  The Yankees game was a sellout in Toronto, and while I had vouchers and the Blue Jays offered tickets, I had already bought ‘Infield Baseline Seats’ along the 3rd base side for $60 each.  The sedan service was $120 for the roundtrip and the plane fares flying in and out of Toronto were over $700.  Flying in and out of Canada is not cheap.  What was impossible for me was that I could not rent a car in the USA and bring it across to Canada.  This hampered my travel plans by ground so air was my only possibility.

Aside from the rule of Canadians not being able to take the car across the line, everything on the trip was bought in US currency causing many expenses from various financial institutions for me.  Each time I made a purchase there was an exchange processing fee.

I was in O’Hare Airport awaiting the flight when I had received a phone message from my step-father Doug.  He has explained my mom had missed her flight and was on the next flight to Toronto.  This was not a big deal as she would now be arriving at the same time as me anyway.  She was just out the $59 fee. It was a rather modest and fair price set by ‘West Jet Airlines’ in Canada.  I had to pay $100, $75 and, $150 in 3 separate instances with the airlines in America for the same thing.

It was another flight out of Chicago-and I was happy to see a clear and wind free day.  My flight was to leave in 45 minutes.  The plane was at the Jet-way and people were de-boarding the flight.  This was way better in contrast to the last flight out of Chicago when I barely made the flight to Houston in time for the game and had to abandon my luggage.

I noticed there were not too many people in my gate area which kind of alarmed me so I went to the ‘United Airlines’ ticket counter where a customer service agent was.

“Is everything okay for the 7:00 AM flight to Toronto?”

“Oh sir, the airline was supposed to have called your cell phone number and leave a message, are you sure they have not done that?”

I have had felt this feeling before, I did not want to retrieve the message I thought had been my wake-up alarm from back in Milwaukee.  “Instead of racking up long-distance charges can you tell me?”

The skinny woman was in her late fifties with auburn/grey hair and was nicely dressed.  She had a calming voice but I had a feeling it was going to feel like daggers from what she was going to say next.  I had my hand propped on my briefcase.  I had shaved, put myself into a nice collared shirt and dress pants to see my mom.

“Sir last night the flight crew had some delays flying in from Philadelphia with wind, and ended being delayed by more than 4 hours. This is the same crew that was to fly this plane to Toronto this morning.  So I am sorry sir, the 7:00 AM flight to Toronto has been cancelled.”

I was floored.  I was worried.  It was one thing being stranded and traveling by myself, I was now upset my mom was going to be in the airport in Toronto all by herself waiting for her son who was not going to be there when she arrived.  She had a broken ankle was all I kept thinking.  “What is happening with all the passengers that were flying the 7:00 AM?”

“The flight has been changed to 11:00 AM-which arrives at 1:30 PM.”

I was not forecasting this. At least I hoped this kind of thing did not happen.

“There has got to be someway I can get to Toronto, my disabled mother is flying into to Toronto from Montreal to meet me.  I am due for a baseball game in Toronto.  I am chasing a world record.” I was explaining this while the phone rang.

“You can try the other airlines, but all of our flights have been delayed this morning, I am terribly sorry.”

I was no longer tired. Chicago had been my nemesis once more, this was disastrous.  I was at a crossroads.  There was no doubt that I had to fly to Toronto and meet my mom.  No record chasing from baseball was supposed to stand in the way of my family visiting.  I made that promise to my family members.  Maybe if I had answered my message, maybe if mom had first missed her flight I could have persuaded her to meet me another time after the streak but she had boarded a flight to Toronto.  The ticket was used.

Had I not been spending the day with my mother I knew what my course of action would be; I would be on the internet right now arranging a one-way car rental from Chicago to Washington.  From Chicago, I would drive the 5 hours to make up the Cleveland Indians game first. After the Cleveland game I would drive all night to Washington in time to make the 24 hour exception.  I had a one-way rental set-up from’ EWR’ that I could still cancel.  The only extra cost would be gas, parking, tolls and a game ticket in Cleveland. In terms of games, I could have switched the Toronto Blue Jays to the exact date the Indians played.  It would have only cost me $150 or so.

Once the weekend was over I had the all-star break to recover and figure things out.  There was one other scenario I knew of that I could try should I rummage up enough finances.  I knew the ramifications of taking a zero too.  I would have to see the Blue Jays at the very end of the streak and add the day.  It meant the best I could do (should I keep the present schedule) was to tie the world record.  I would investigate possible other scenarios, maybe there was something I missed. I called my step-dad and told him to phone my mom and say I was headed for Toronto.

It was a hug filled with emotion and worth.  I knew I made the right decision when I hugged my mom.  She started crying because she knew what coming to the airport meant.  She was walking with a cane and limping.

“Mom, what are you doing, let me get you a wheelchair.”

I foraged a wheelchair nearby and she went in it.  “Mom, I am so starving lets go eat some pizza and have the best 3 hour visit ever.”

We laughed hard, we ate lots of food, drank lots of pop.  All the while knowing what is in the background.  My mom, the one who watched me play baseball growing up.  The one who helped me become the man I was.

My mom and I had worked on my 2 novels all year long. My mom, who once had a major surgery when I was a teen-and showed up in a blanket in the stands the next day because she knew it was my final game of the season,  meant more to me then baseball that day.

I was carrying the 1st edition of my sports book in my hand. The streak was important for some reasons.  Part of me would always wonder what would have happened had I not boarded that flight.  The majority of me, tells myself that ‘it was the best damn decision of my life!!

I said good-bye to my mom a few hours later and boarded my flight to ‘EWR.’  I also cancelled my trip to North Carolina for the start of all-star break. I wanted to spend it with my brother and his family in New Jersey.  Besides, I still had a chance to tie the ‘said’ world record and/or break the listed-‘Guinness Book World Record.”

Game#6 Day#5

Nationals Park

Washington, D.C

July.13/2008

I had fallen asleep on my brother’s couch.  After a few hours of visiting I crashed.  It was 7:30 AM in the morning. The game was at 1:35 PM.  I was out the door at 8 AM.  It said the drive was just over 3 hours and 172 miles to the airport (DCA) I had some finagling to do.  I needed to go to the airport, catch a cab to the Nationals game and then I had a sedan picking me up at 4:30 PM for a 6:00 PM flight from DCA—to land at La Guardia in New York where yet another sedan driver was to drive me to Shea Stadium for the Sunday night baseball game.  I would be sweating another quick game in Washington.

It was my 1st time to a game in Washington. Once upon a time, when the Nationals were in Montreal, I saw the franchise play at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.  Funny enough it was 13 years later and instead of Pascal Perez, it was Odalis Perez towing the hill for the team.

I made the trek down the I-95 S, through the beltway express to Reagan Airport.  It was only after noon when I arrived.  Of course there was a little problem. I could not find a gas station near the airport.  I had no interest in paying $6.00 a gallon to have them fill the tank.  I did have some time before the game.  20 minutes later though I began to panic.  Then I split the front side of my windbreaker pants when I slammed the brakes in finding a gas station.  Now I had gas in the tank and a wardrobe problem.  I would find a pair of pants at the ballpark.  The key was getting there, and despite it being just around 5 miles from the airport, I wanted to get there.  I had my fleecy jacket wrapped around my ripped pants.  That’s all I was carrying.

I had a return flight in the morning to Washington from New York the next day.  This was the origin of my flight to Chicago—on the Tuesday—in order to visit the ‘Field Of Dreams Movie Site’ in Dubuque Iowa, for the duration of the All-Star Break.’

I took a cab and entered Nationals Park.  I searched the park from pillar to post looking for a new pair of pants/shorts only to be denied.  I was frustrated beyond belief.  I wanted to have a nap from the stress. I still asked and received my usher witness at the ballpark to sign my logbook.  I was too tired to walk around the Park after that but I liked what I saw.

My first thought of the ball yard was that size wise it was close To ‘Petco Park.’  I liked the outfield concourse space the best.  The bathrooms in the middle of an outfield concourse are always a good idea too.  The restaurant in the center field area looks like one of the best party atmosphere’s around.  Even though I have never tried it myself, people swear by ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl.’

The outside is very clean and brand new as you can imagine with Washington.  The ticket windows are kind of hard to find but I like the curly W’s all over the outside of the yard.  The concourse is not ensconced in rich tradition yet but there are things to celebrate about previous teams that were in the Washington Area.

The sightlines are above average.  I watched the first few innings leaning my sore back against a pillar.  A few different times security guards checked on me.  It was blistering hot.  It was nearly 100 degrees out.  I drank as much water as I could but I was tired.  The Houston Astros were the visiting team.  Between that club and the New York Mets, I was seeing them in the teens somewhere.  If I was a lot more cognizant for the game for the entire game I would have wanted to strangle Odalis Perez.  He was so slow between pitches.  By the time the 6th inning started I was at full attention.  I was brought back from the dead by watching the ‘Presidential Race’ in the fourth inning.  That is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.

Contrast to Odalis Perez was Houston’s Brendan Backe, as he was throwing innings with ease.  Thank god Houston was up by 3 runs and it never seemed that the game would be in doubt.  The game was right around the 3 hour pace.  When I scouted this doubleheader attempt it would never be doable during the weekdays because of the traffic, but the close proximity of the ballpark to the airport made it really enticing.  On the other end, Shea Stadium was even closer to LaGuardia and I had the beneficial 8:05 PM ‘Sunday Night ESPN’ start time.

I made sure I strolled around Nationals Park more to see what it had to offer.  I liked the big scoreboard—visible from anywhere in the park really.  The color schematics were sharp.  I think the uniforms were really sharp on the ball club.  I don’t think you can really go wrong with red.  What I like is that they did not build layer upon layer of outfield bleachers to impede the view of the buildings downtown.  Put a winning baseball team on this field and the park atmosphere will only be enhanced to match this good looking structure.

I never clapped so hard when Washington finally took Perez out of the game.  Houston tacked two more runs on the board and fans had already been mass exiting the park for over an hour.  The announced crowd of over 31,000 had dissipated to half of that many.

I was standing the exit gates, which are proudly surrounded by more curly red “W’s.  I had my sedan driver waiting on South East Capital Street.  We were out of there and made the 5 mile journey in 15 minutes.  It was now 5:00 PM- with me entering the airport security as the game had ended at 4:30 PM.  One bonus of being at the airport earlier was printing my boarding pass—and being familiar with what Gate the ‘US Airways.’ Flight was.

I was in the process of going through security when I was told to take my jacket off my waist.  I then requested a private screening.  I could not have this embarrassment in front of all these nice people.

To their credit, the security was very nice.  Now I was questioned for a minute for why I did not have any luggage with me but other then that it was all right.

In an ironic and mind puzzling phenomenon, there was a thundershower headed our way at the airport.  I knew this doubleheader was in jeopardy.

Game#7 Day #5

Shea Stadium

Flushing Meadows, NY

July.13/2008

We made it to our plane, boarded the flight 10 minutes late, and were on the runway.  The captain was about to address the passengers.

“Folks we have some bad news and some good news.  The good news is that we are cleared for take off, the bad news is that we might have to turn back if the wind picks up anymore.”

Nothing like an adrenaline shot to boost me right out of my somber mood.  I have never studied the shiftiness of an aircraft as I did on that flight.  I could not take anymore setbacks.  Any slight delay could cost me big time.  I had a favorable schedule coming after the break.  With this game made in New York I had 6 days in a row without a doubleheader attempt.  The cities were; Colorado, Cincinnati, Oakland, Arizona, Seattle and Baltimore before a Tampa Bay, Florida double header attempt.

I finally breathed normally as we touched the ground with the aircraft at ‘LGA’.  My sedan driver could not have been nicer.  He made a swift $60 for driving 3 miles-so I can’t blame him for being in a good mood.

The worst part about ripping my pants was spending $30 on a pair of shorts with the New York Mets emblem.  I am a New York Yankees fans, they would soon be donated to my cousin.

I did not like Shea Stadium at all and was glad they were moving to the new ball park the next year so I would never have to return to Shea again.  I watched the Mets mangle the Rockies 7-0.  By the time the game ended it was past 11:00 PM.  On the way down the exiting the ballpark I came within 10 feet of being right next to ESPN commentators Jon Miller and Joe Morgan’ I can’t believe in the size difference between the two men.

In a classic way to hit the break I had to wait 30 minutes for a cab after the game to head back to LaGuardia.  I needed to save money from time to time by being at the airport for a few hours to await early morning flights—as oppose to wasting the cash for a few hour hotel stay.

‘LGA’ was not really comfortable.   It was probably worth the $35 cab ride, (yikes) flat fee, in order to arrive at the airport safely—as oppose to walking the 3 miles through that neighborhood at night though.  The $35 cab ride is non-negotiable for these sedan guys leaving the park.  The good news is that most hotels are at least 5-7 miles away from the park anyway.

Game#8 Day#9

Coors Field

Denver, CO

Thur. July.17/2008

Fresh off of my 3 days penalty (for the MLB All-Star Break) I was ready to resume my quest at Coors Field.  This was a scheduling nightmare in which Colorado was only one of four choices for the streak that night.  The other games that night were in: St. Louis, Cincinnati or Baltimore.  The Rockies were only in town for 9 days out of the 26 though.  This game was a decent shift back to the Midwest to combine with St. Louis as part of the original schedule.

Now I had the St. Louis game booked with my brothers and dad on Aug.01.  When I arrived in Denver it was early in the morning.  My visit to the ‘The Field of Dreams Movie Site’ had me well rested for the next stretch of games.  Some of my credit card deposits were now coming back to my available balance.  I had been paid from both paper jobs and managed to sell some extra tickets to the New York Yankees and Mets that I had purchased dating back to April.  I was back in the money game.

The crazy doubleheader scenario I had in mind was for July.31.  I decided it was only a necessary evil if I had missed any games prior to July.28th.  It was a Cleveland day matinee that started at 12:10 PM-and I had a chance to catch a flight to New York at 4:52 PM-that landed at ‘LGA’ at 6:24 PM.  It was a risky and pricey attempt at a $500 hit but my brothers and dad had my back in the event I needed the extra game.  Provided I could hit all of my single games there were 2 double headers between now and then: TPA/MIA on the 23rd and SF/OAK on the 26th.  I was really confident in SF/OAK with only 16 miles between those cities.  After those two it would be the HOU/TEX doubleheader and that would be it.  To tie the record would still be an unbelievable achievement.  I could always asterisk it with the 3 day penalty even though there was a tie.

I wanted to keep the legacy trip of Boston, New York and St. Louis with my family.  When I activated the second attempt I already cut myself out of the ‘Wrigley Field’ portion of the trip—because I needed a makeup game.

Coors Field struck a chord with me instantly.  The view at this Field is so neat with the mountain back drop.  The illusion of open space is so important when a ball park is created.  Coors Field is easily seen when you enter the city downtown. There is a huge concourse area past the stands in left center field, where the space can host Thousands of standing room only fans.  The seats are nicely sized and painted green.  Right Field has 3 decks.  The gigantic scoreboard is placed in left center-field with a big logo of the ‘Rockies’ at the very top of a column of steel.    There is a highly visible clock above the Rockies logo.

The scoreboard can be photographed anywhere in the park with its size.  The left field and right field walls are not very big in height, so fans have plenty of chances to catch homerun balls.  Colorado’s mascot is named “Dinger,’ and much like Twins mascot ‘T.C’ you can find this mascot scaling the fence at any moment to fire up the crowd in a cheer.

I bought the cheapest tickets into game. ($4 for the ‘Rock pile’ ticket) and I parked downtown for $5.

I was excited that during the all-star break I figured out how to work my video-picture camera and this was the 1st day in use.  I snapped 20 pictures within being there for 10 minutes.  I was happy to have this tool introduced to the evidence keeping.  With 8 GB disk of space I could take 1477 pictures.  The pictures were of ‘HD’ quality.  I mean I should have had this for the whole trip.  I spent $300 on the camera and accessories.

The Colorado Rockies were the reigning NL champions.  I played baseball in a lot of the same provincial parks as Jeff Francis so naturally I always liked the Rockies.   You can trace that back to the Larry Walker days.  Larry also played baseball in the same parks as I did in youth baseball.  It is my feeling that Larry Walker does not get his due for being such an awesome baseball player because he played the majority of his career in hitter friendly Coors.

Yes, the park has a lot of grass in the outfield to find if you are not hitting the ball out of the park but how can you argue with a career average of .313 with 383 Home Runs and 1311 RBI’S.  The Colorado Rockies have been blessed with some top offensive players.  I was happy to see Matt Holiday on this night.  Both of the teams had futile records and were not in contention.

Young pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a beautiful game and I saw Chris Ianetta crush a pitch for a 2 run Homer.  The game was threatened by dark clouds for a spell but finished nice and clear with the Rockies winning 5-3 in front of 30,500 fans.

One of the cool traditions is they sing ‘Hey Baby’ by Bruce Channel right after the seventh inning stretch.  This is similar to the fans of Arizona and Boston singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond every game or “New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra being played on an infinite loop at Yankee Stadium until everyone in the crowd has left the park.

I hopped in my rental car and headed back to the airport, it was another quick turn around flight back to Denver.  During that morning, before I made it to Denver I was pleased to have my flight to Denver go smooth from Chicago.  The next day I was to fly back to Chicago first before boarding that flight to St. Louis.  However I was not going all the way to St. Louis—I would never make my connecting to flight in Cincinnati because I was going to a baseball game in Cincinnati instead.

Game#9 Day#10

The Great American Ball Park

Cincinnati, OH

July.18/2008

It was my second trip to The Great American Ballpark, but since this streak was activated on July.09 I was allowed to return to the ballpark.  I bought $7 tickets in the highest level behind home plate.   Much to my humored self I actually needed a semi-fast game.  Sure I had pulled in my walk off the plane maneuver in which I gave myself a few options to fly into—but know I had to be in St. Louis for an early morning flight to Los Angeles.

I used my one way car rental trick and secured a car rental for $56.  The flight I had bought was from Chicago to St. Louis with a stop over in Cincinnati, the price would have cost me triple if it was a straight flight.  It was a 5 and a half hour drive to St. Louis Airport.  This time I would gain an hour—so in actual time it was only a 4 hour and a half drive.

Just in case I had not seen them a lot already, the New York Mets were the opponent.  I had seen them in Shea 2x already, in Philadelphia and also in this game.  It seemed every day I was watching them or Houston.  I had seen Houston in Washington, at home, in Pittsburgh and also on the road in Atlanta.  It was not over because as part of my makeup date in Houston I would see them play again.  4 times each was a lot to see a team in 3 weeks— both at home and on the road.

Bronson Arroyo wound up throwing a gem of a game for the Cincinnati Reds—who won the game 5-2 against John Maine of the New York Mets, the game was finished off by an awesome fireworks display.  I was in fine shape for the drive.  I made it to St. Louis Airport at 4 AM in the morning-and was surprised to see lots of people awaiting the security lines to open for the gates at Lambert.

Game#10 Day#11

Angel Stadium

Anaheim, CA

July.19/2008

It was a flight that I slept the entire time to wake up feeling groggy.  I picked up my rental car and drove to ‘Angels Stadium.’ I was happy to have the game as a 1:10 PM start. After the game was over I had reserved a room at a hostel in ‘Fullerton’ some 8 miles from the ballpark.  I would be able to have a solid night of sleep before an early morning flight to Phoenix.  This was a nice schedule for the weekend.  I was seeing teams for the 1st time of the trip today in the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.   I was totally going to cheer for the Angels today though being a Yankees fan.  When I walked into the park, I took a lot of pictures of the big red helmets outside.  I really liked my first experience at Angels Stadium back 3 years before that.  The stadium had just had a massive facelift under new owner Arthur Moreno. The ushers were dressed in the Cracker Jack Suits with the throwback hats.  I liked that idea but they had since scrapped that idea with the staff.

Angels Stadium is pretty well placed in Anaheim off the main streets for the most part.  It is easier to access then Dodger Stadium that is for sure.   While it is nice aesthetically——it does not possess a lot of the amenities like the modern ball clubs—nor does it carry any type of historical mystique.  The park will never achieve the best ranking for appearance or atmosphere but that is not because of the owner’s lack of trying.

The Angels are lucky to have Moreno as their owner and with his guidance they have been one of the better run organizations in the last decade on and off the field.  I am sure Moreno would like to build a nice ball stadium there just isn’t the land available—or public outcry for a new stadium in either city like you hear in most ‘MLB’ cities.  It is the same reason the 2 NFL teams left last decade.

The waterfalls in centerfield are a nice fit with the laid back atmosphere.  The haloed ‘A’ anywhere is very sharp because of the teams colors.  There are many obstructed seats that negate the left field bleachers.  Still the park looks nice and clean.

.  The Angels are one of four teams not to have an official mascot. The others are; The Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs.  Although the Angels do have a ‘Rally Monkey’ made famous by their 2002 World Series Win.

The temperature was overcast for the start the day and I could not have been happier.  When you have been on the road for over 3 weeks and are exhausted, heavy heat from the sun is hard to fight off.  I could actually sit in the stands to watch the game.  Since they were playing the Red Sox, the majority of the fans in the cheap seats were cheering for the visitors instead of the hometown team.  In my section for most the game I actually could see the Red Sox mascot ‘Wally,” making the rounds to all of his visitor fans.

There was a friendly rivalry that was created from these two AL rivals.  Boston jumped off to a fast 2 run lead when Kevin Youklis crushed a Joe Saunders pitch over the wall for a 2-0 lead.  The game held at that score until the bottom of the seventh when the Angels finally got to Josh Beckett and the Sox by posting 4 runs.

The crowd had some anxious moments as Frankie Rodriguez put a couple of men on base in the top of the ninth before slamming the door.  Since I was not in rush for a change I waited an hour before the crowd dispersed.  I then located a McDonalds on South Harbor Blvd before heading onto the hostel.

The Anaheim/Fullerton Hostel is right on the golf course.  I was able to shower, clean up and do some laundry.  I had no real time to chat with the others in there at all.  The sun had come out and I needed my 8 hours sleep before heading onto Phoenix via ‘LAX’ airport.  I was developing a strategy in my head should I ever do a streak like this—I just didn’t know it yet.

Game#11 Day #12

Chase Field

Phoenix, AZ

July.20/2008

The first thought I had when arriving at ‘Phoenix/Sky Harbor Airport’ was-“how stupid is this?  The car rental facility center was 4 or 5 miles from the airport—which is about the same distance as taking a cab to ‘Chase Field would have been.

It was 8:30 AM in the morning.   I was chasing a breakfast location with my car rental amongst the number 10 HWY.  I was ecstatic to find a ‘Waffle House Restaurant.’  I had wanted to visit this restaurant since I had seen the movie ‘Tin Cup.’  All I could think about was steak and eggs.  It was already 98 degrees outside.  I braved buying a pop earlier in that crazy heat.  It was not curbing the hunger.

I ordered the biggest plate of food I have ever received for a portion.  Steak, Eggs, Toast and the world class ‘Grits’.  It is my feeling that there is no place in the United States to order ‘Grits’ better then the southerner states like: Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona.   It was a hearty breakfast for a nominal fee.

It was also a good thing when I had the time to fill my stomach as oppose to buying food at the game.  A good meal on a long trip can really hit the spot.  Suddenly I felt great again.  I hit the highways full of energy as I made my way back towards downtown Phoenix.

Chase Field is easily accessible by Jefferson St in the downtown core.  I parked across the street for $7 and proceeded to my $5 zone tickets.

After entering, I noticed the photos on the wall of fame for this young franchise.  Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez and Curt Schilling highlight all the best time Diamondbacks.  There are many good pictures of their 2001 World Series run.  I could not help but utter obscenities under my breath while viewing these as a Yankees fan, but it was nice to see.  To celebrate the banners, they had big green ‘A logo’s’ on the windows in the left field for the pennant’s and division titles.

Also, like other indoor ballparks, the picture taking was made a lot tougher.  When I walked the concourse, I noticed that there were several water leaks from the air conditioning.  I came to find out later that the air conditioner breaks down all the time—and people are always complaining about a hot ball park.  The good news was it was working that day.

I liked the gigantic scoreboard and that was definitely the highlight of all the features of the park.  The hot tub seats in right center field was kind of funny—but was kind of a rip off the fish tank at “Land shark Stadium.’   To make sure I ate something at the park to put n my report I ate a pepperoni pizza there which was quite tasty.  I will give great kudos to their ticketing department and ballpark staff.  They are amongst the best in baseball and I have had good experiences with them.

The sightlines are decent from the concourse and it is a very clean baseball park despite the leaking water.

I was surprised to see 39,000 fans were at the game.  This was most certainly because the Arizona Diamondbacks had been a good team back in 2007.   They were in the playoffs versus the Colorado Rockies.  Young players like Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds and Brandon Webb were the main reason there was much optimism for the club to be competitive for years to come.

I took my seat in the 3rd deck and watched the game with a couple of season ticket holders in my section.  They raved about the customer service—and how the team had the $400 per seat-season tickets they were sitting in and how there were certain spots they could park for free.  This was amazing to me.  $5 a game to watch Major League Baseball for a full season would be something I would be up for.

The Diamondbacks took a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning behind an impressive start by Brandon Webb.  The Los Angeles Dodgers were floundering in the game against the All-Star Pitcher.  I kept talking to this man and woman about the streak, and they were telling me everything there was to know about the ballclub.  They told me about D. Baxter—the Bobcat, he was the teams mascot’s and kids were flocking to him in droves.  I like it when I see young people at the game.  Arizona should be commended as they let kids in for free on the weekends when a parent buys a ticket.  You have to purchase the tickets before the season, but that is a great deal.

Seeing all the ballparks carry such a diverse audience—especially with the abundance of young people—ensures the state of baseball is sure to grow in the coming years.  I have seen hockey games with little kids attending, NBA games are no better.  I am not sure about ‘NFL’ but the general consensus is that they are more of an adult crowd too.

Baseball parks all have cheap seats if you do your homework.  A family might have to choose designated games, but at least baseball is making the effort to include ‘Joe Family’ as part of their fan base.  It is a generational sport in which these kids are going to bring their kids.  As for the other sports, I think that long term fans are going to dwindle when this generation of kids grow up—not being able to afford the games.

I was astounded to see that Arizona too sings-‘Sweet Caroline’ like the Boston Red Sox fans do.  I can’t believe that teams just wouldn’t want their own song for a tradition.  Then again Neil does have the last name “Diamond’ so maybe it wasn’t too far fetched.

The season ticket holders called for a blow-up by Brandon Lyon in the 9th inning.  They just had seen it too many times that year.  I, of course, had no allegiance to any team but wanted to see most home teams win.  Well the Dodgers took the lead with a 5-run ninth-only to almost blow it themselves in escaping the desert with a 6-5 triumph.

I stayed at a ‘Best Western’ about 5 miles from the ball park.  It was hot so I wanted to stay indoors.  I needed to do some laundry, update my online blogs and sleep.  I had a flight in the morning to Seattle. I was meeting my friend Kenji for it.

Seattle would feel like home for me, well at least for a few hours.

Game#12 Day#13

Safeco Field

Seattle, WA

July.21/2008

I made it to ‘Sea-Tac Airport’ so early that Kenji was to meet up with me at a Best Western nearby later in the day.  Since I was spending so much money with ‘BW’ for the whole summer-I never felt bad about pirating their free internets at all their hotels.  I could just flash them a generic hotel room card still left in my wallet from a previous night’s room rental.  I knew my way around the hotels after a while and fit in.  All I had to do at the airport was take the airport shuttle to the hotel which beat a cab fare.

I always tipped the shuttle bus driver $2-3 for the mile they drove me.  I was able to kill the time until I was supposed to meet up Kenji.

Kenji and I had been friends for 28 years in 2008.  We played baseball in little league together.  The years had led us on different paths so we were too busy to visit enough.  Kenji even spent two years in ‘Tokyo’ teaching English.  I was jealous of him seeing baseball games in the Tokyodome, ‘he had seen Hideki Matsui, Kenji Johjima, and other Asian players play.

For the years over there he was also to follow the path of Ichiro Suzuki’s career on a daily basis watching TV.  I was also of the mindset that Ichiro was an underrated ball player in the majors.   They were so many consecutive years with Ichiro having 200 hits and 100 hits-with 40 plus Stolen Bases.  Today we were going to watch him live.

The day was sunny and the business center at the hotel was not receptive enough to the air conditioner just turned on.  I had realized on that very morning that I had misplaced my ticket for that day’s game so I called Ticketmaster up.

Like so many other things I had done on the trip, I was glad to have done the transaction by credit card so there was a paper trail.  The key was to watch the game and then head back to the Airport.  The flight at night was just past 12 AM so there would be a little bit of tension for the game to be fast.

I was more confident about Seattle because I had been to over 10 games at ‘Safeco Field.’ It was only going to be a problem because they were playing the Boston Red Sox.  One of the saving graces was that the M’s were sporting a 38-60 record so a high turnout was not as expected.

Kenji had called me to say he was minutes away.  I closed my briefcase and headed off to the washroom.

I was in there for two minutes when someone had scoffed the briefcase.  I panicked and thought I was in trouble deep.

‘Hey!”  I yelled at a deep manner to the 2 people who were running away with my stuff.  I realized at that moment the Kenji had brought my good friends Steve Lees and Rob Blair.

All of us have known each other for 20 years and upwards.  Rob was the best man at my wedding.  I stayed at Steve Lees’s house when for a month when I lived on my own at age 16.  These were life long friends and they had joined me on this day.  It was a nice turn of events.  We all headed to the car to get something to eat.

“Hey Doug,” Kenji said as he extended his hand for the streak, “I thought I would bring these balloons for the game.”  Kenji was referring to Steve and Rob.

I was laughing and coughing. It was my 4th week on the road and it was starting to play with my health.  I felt a froggy throat coming and was eating ‘Halls’ like rock candy.  “You guys are about to be part of history.”

Steve Lees had been a small kid who had hit a massive growth spurt in his teens to be the tallest out of all of us now.  He had blonde hair and was definitely the most youthful of the group.

Rob Blair has brown hair, with medium height and brown hair.  I worked with Rob for 3 years in the pizza industry.   Rob was married only a few months before me and is a proud father of 2 daughter’s now. He had also driven his car out for the festivities even though he had the least driving experience with the city of Seattle.

‘What’s up Douger?” This came from Rob, It was my nickname created in my teenage years when I hated everyone calling me D. Booth-and they didn’t call me Chuck either like my U.S baseball friends do.

“I’ll be a lot better when we eat, I have not eaten a morsel of food all day. “  I had slept on the non-stop flight to Seattle and missed the cookies they passed out.

“Yeah, it is only noon, so we are going to drive around ‘South Center Mall’ until we find a place to eat, maybe get lost and miss first pitch.”  Kenji said.  He too was a father of a young son.  His mom was from Japan and his dad from Scotland so he has an awesome sense of humor.

As tired I was, having my friends have my back for this game was going to be refreshing.  Company helped the time pass.  They had been following the streak back at home picking up momentum.  It was an online buzz for the community.  The newspaper articles written had been picked up by the Canadian Press in Canada.  There was also that Detroit Free Press Article that had been picked up by many syndicate newspapers in the Eastern US cities.

“Whatever I do today, I am not in the mood for any scary moves to be delayed to the baseball game!”  The guys were just kidding, but by my seeing that they all laughed.

We arrived at Safeco Field when the gates opened.  The outside neighborhood of this ballpark is the only thing keeping this park from being ranked higher.  This beautiful ball park has a bunch of rundown buildings—and alleyways that have all of the hard rigors of downtown life.  I was trying not concentrate on that.  The beautiful brick concrete that is apparent for miles highlight this structure.  You can easily identify Safeco’s retractable roof from anywhere in the downtown district.  Nearby ‘Q-West Field’ is adjacent to Safeco, and this venue enhances the look of the area.

On Edgar Martinez Way, there is a huge parking lot that is the same height as Safeco and provides lots of parking spaces for a big fee but its close proximity to the park serves some people well.

On my first to trip to Safeco field in 2005, the team still drew at near capacity and the buzz around the outside of the park enabled surrounding businesses to flourish make money.  ‘Ivens Clam Bake’ once had a beer garden and concession stand right across from the park—that was packed with people, and the smell of seafood wafted through the air.  This lot was now vacant as the attendance had dwindled some.

This night the buzz was in the air for another reason.  The M’s were playing the Red Sox. I love cheering against those guys just as I had done in Los Angeles a few days prior.

The staff at Safeco Field were courteous to us as we entered the park, each one of them have nametags with their own hometown and how long they have worked at the park much like they have when you visit ‘’Disneyland’.  It is a nice idea.  I took my friends to where we were going to stand for the game and they were happy about the view.

In my opinion, Safeco Field has the best sightlines from any park when you are walking along the main floor concourse.  No matter where you are—you can always peek at the action going on.  There is an undeniable smell of ballpark garlic from the famous ‘Rally Fries’.  There is a little section along the left field wall that is a great place to watch the game in which there is a man attended scoreboard underneath.  From time to time you will hear the train shooting off past the right field bleachers.

The main scoreboard is in centerfield with the backdrop of Q-West Field in the left center field.  The big iconic letters of ‘SAFECO FIELD’ are also displayed in left field.  The most famous area of right field is the ‘HIT IT HERE CAFÉ’—which is on the second level—and has nice viewing of the game while eating some food.

The Mariners Mascot is the ‘Mariner Moose’.  The first time I saw the Mariner Moose, the mascot did the ‘Napoleon Dynamite dance and would be seen doing many of athletic moves all around the Field.  Unfortunately an accident along the wall one game has caused that Moose to retire in favor of a more ‘kid friendly moose’.  Somehow the Moose just doesn’t seem to be as cool as it once was.  I was thinking this to myself as the game started   While the day was somewhat stress free I still needed a fast game.

I had a flight that left for a few minutes before midnight.  Seattle was always going to be a tough squeeze because it is 1000 miles to the next ball park.  Even flights were two plus hours to the California teams.  If you left to East of there was the flight time—plus loss of time zones.  I would take an all night flight to New York that stopped off in Houston the next day.  I had many options from there to go places in case of schedule change.  Since I missed games in the streak—I had to fly to New York and then take a train to Baltimore.   It pleased me to see Boston pitching Jon Lester and Seattle pitching Jarrod Washburn, two strike throwing pitches, both of whom worked extremely fast.

Any doubt of a slow game was quickly put to rest in the game when Boston took a 4-0 lead in the 8th and then Papelbon put it away quickly in the 9th.  I had two hours to arrive at the airport-go through security and board the plane.  Since I was quite knowledgeable about the traffic flow the cops use, we were able to strategically park a few feet past were they cordoned off the street, in forcing the cars to travel north towards highway 5.  I made it to SeaTac at 10:30 PM, and said goodbye-to my buddies.  It was a great to have had company for the day.  I was really tired and couldn’t wait for the flight.  I was not paying as much attention going through the security lines and almost lost my passport having walked away from the area for about 3 minutes before returning to retrieve it.

I fell asleep hard and woke up in Houston.

Game#13 Day#14

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Baltimore, MD

July.22/2008

I woke up in a fog from the flight arriving in Houston.  Much to my disliking we had to de-board the aircraft and switch planes for the flight to LGA in New York.  I knew something was wrong from the minute I got off the airplane.  When I arrived on the next plane I realized I had lost my cell phone.   I could have sworn I placed into pants but it wasn’t there.  I was already on the next plane.  Now it was a cheap phone to begin with and I was not really that upset it was gone—it was just that it was my form of communication and I had some secondary verification evidence for the streak.  I asked the flight attendant if I had time to race back to other plane.  She said I had 8 minutes.  I sprinted to other plane and made it back to my seat on the other plane where I was disappointed to not see the phone anywhere.  I had to roll with it now.  I ran back to the New York bound flight and made it within a minute of the cabin doors being closed.

I had no phone now.  I had a calling card number where I could make calls from payphones if necessary, but my trip just became harder.

It was going to be a tough day.  I landed in ‘LGA’ at 10:30 AM local time.  I would need to take a bus to the subway station-and then proceed to make it to NY Penn Station—where I had to exchange my train ticket for a Baltimore bound train.  Upon arriving in Baltimore, I would have to check my baggage with the luggage check so I could go to the ball game without my stuff.

During my planning days I had this day set-up for several scenarios so it was not foreign to me to have this occur.  The original design was to have gone to Tampa via flight and go to the game as a single, but when I missed the Yanks/Phil’s double header it was to become the secondary day for the Yanks, however when I missed my Dallas flight on July.8th I had to reset the trip so now it was the last option of Baltimore.  I  had a Tampa Bay/Florida doubleheader attempt the next day-and then I would have to fly the next day to Baltimore and then drive the way to Pittsburgh-to re-do PNC Park again.

The negative was that this would be a night where I had to spend four hours at the Amtrak Station over night to catch an early morning flight from BWI-to Tampa. I was becoming an expert of New York City I will tell you that.

This streak was one of several patience times.  I was in line for over an hour to receive my new Amtrak ticket.  I bought a New York Deli style Pastrami sandwich for much more money then what I should have-and watched the Train Schedule Board.  This is a unique experience in its own right.

The board shows all arriving trains and when your train number is up-they flash what gate 1-16 or so you need to be at.  It is a mad dash for positioning after that is occurred.  From there, you board the train and hope to have a seat.  I am not sure how hard it would have been to drive from New York City to Baltimore that day—but at least with Amtrak I took the traffic factor out.  For a $45 one way trip—that distance was a good deal.  I would have paid $17-25 alone in tolls down the I-95.

I was pleased the train arrived even before 6 PM in Baltimore.  Ten minutes later my luggage was checked and I was on a $15 cab ride to the park that was had me at the park with 50 minutes to spare.  I had time to check out the park, call my cell phone company to cut service off and eat some food.

I had finally made it to Oriole Park at Camden Yards!!  It was awesome.  I entered from the Eutaw Street. entrance on a sunny evening and headed right for the barbecue pit I had heard about.

The warehouse across from the park was within my sight as I snapped pictures.  While I ate a barbecue rib sandwich, with baked beans and coleslaw, I walked around that area for a few minutes reading all the places on the concrete where the players had hit home run balls.  I walked into the standing room only area which might be the best in baseball.  This park was incredible.  When you are in a ballgame in Baltimore you can not think of anybody else other than Cal Ripken Jr.  He was a player I admired a lot growing up.  I watched the 1983 World Series and saw him talk on the phone with the President of the United States when they won.  This is Cal’s town.  Everything he stands for is prominently displayed at the park.  It was too bad the ball club has struggled for so long now and the attendance has waned.  The park is immaculate though.

Right in the core of downtown Baltimore, the yard is near everything.  Traffic may be a problem, but once you are inside the crowd is there to forget about life for awhile and see a game from an original venue.

I truly had wished I could have had more time before and after the game to soak up this experience but I was ecstatic to be there.  I made it to my seat in time for the National Anthem.  Wouldn’t you know they scream the word ‘O’ when it comes to the ‘oh say, can you see part of it.  I love little traditions each park has like this.

I love the scoreboard too.  It was really easy to have valid pictures from the size and clarity of the numbers.  This was a game I wanted to last into the night because I was in no rush to spend all the remaining time in Baltimore at the Amtrak Station.  I watched the Toronto Blue Jays outslug the hometown 10-8.

Amongst my favorite players of all time, I got to see fellow Canadian Matt Stairs pinch hit and deliver and run batted in single.  By the time they cleared the park I was the last one out at almost midnight.  I did some good planning work back at the station in order to make the next few days go smooth.

Game #14 Day#15

Tropicana Field

St. Petersburg, FLA 

July.23/2008

I was more than happy to pay the cab driver the $40 to take me to my hotel early.  The flight arrived early into Tampa which I liked.  It was now just after 10:00 AM, I had called the ‘Clearwater’ Best Western and they had agreed to let me check in extremely early.  I had not showered in 2 days—and was not looking forward to a hot day in Florida without hitting a fresh-up!  This would be a stressful day.

The plan was to attend a 12:00 PM matinee in Tampa-before using sedan service to the Tampa Bay Airport—and then fly into ‘Fort Lauderdale Airport’- via a 4:55 PM flight.  The plane would arrive in Miami at nearly 6 PM.  From there I would have an hour to make it to the ball game.

Once the game ended I had a 4 hour drive back to Tampa to make it to the hotel.  Just like the other car deals I had done, I had secured a cheap one-way car rental in Miami by using the 24 hour airport deal.  The cabbie dropped me off for 30 minutes at the hotel before returning to pick me up.

It was a nice drive into Clearwater from Tampa, but the trip from Clearwater to Tropicana made me realize why the ball park is so constantly beaten up.  There is only one way to arrive at the game.  I had set myself up for no expectations at the Trop.

I liked that they had the score board of the starting lineups posted outside the park for everyone to see.  I was going to see James ‘Big Game’ Shields pitch against the Oakland A’s.  At the very least the Rays were a 1st place club at this point and Oakland was still in contention for the AL West.  Of course they had one of my favorite players in Jack Cust in the line-up hitting 3rd.

Once inside, I was actually quite impressed at a few specific things the club has to offer.  They have made the ‘TROP’ very fan and family friendly-with all sorts of interactive baseball games and contests during the game.

Plus since it was summer, they have concession food with a special rate for kids that are there attending camps.  They offered $1 fries, pop and hotdogs for the kids.  I almost wanted to say I was buying food for a kid to get the deal.

I sat in the 300 section and it felt pretty cavernous up there.  They have walking verandas in the middle of the field—way up from the play but these veranda’s have actually cost team’s games when the ball has been hit up there.

The reflection of the lights all make it tough to take pictures from anywhere inside the park.  Still there are pictures of Rays players everywhere.  Like every park, I always check out the scoreboard and the Rays have a nice one in the center field wall.

I was impressed with the mascot “Raymond” interacting with the kids long before the game started.  If I were not so tired, I would not have minded that plastic thunder sticks were currently being banged by kids.

As for the park, I give the Rays staff good marks for effort, especially when it came to concessions, fan participation and doing the best with what you have.  At the very least the tickets were cheap, and it was fully air conditioned in there

When you are expecting the worst and there end up being positives it is a good feeling.  I mean really, even at the parks that are not considered the greatest, the game of baseball is being played and that is right up my alley.  I sat in my seat with half of the fans being kids and it was a nice feeling.

I always say in the lower end markets of baseball cities that if I lived there I would hardly ever miss a game and it is true.  My food, ticket and transportation were well under $50 from Clearwater anyway.

Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 in the second before the Rays put up a 3 spot in the bottom of the fifth.  I always liked the home team having a lead in the game because I could eliminate a half-inning by the home team winning.  The game was progressing really fast.

At the start of the eighth inning we were barely two hours old.  It was looking good for me.  In fact, my sedan driver was scheduled for 2:45 PM-at the earliest-and now I had to call him in early.  The guy was not answering his phone.  I could not sit any longer and watched the game on the main level from near the private suite boxes.

Shields began the Top of the Ninth struggling and put on a couple of base runners.  Tampa had tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of 7 for a 4-2 lead.  It was 2:15 PM when the inning started.  At 2:27 PM there was still no one out, and the A’s had pulled to within 4-3 with a man on base.  Finally Shields got the first out—and then the Rays brought in Troy Percival.

I was happy at that move, but still pitching changes cost minutes.  As long as there was not extra innings I should still be okay.

Should the A’s even take the lead then I would cheer for a quick bottom of the ninth inning.  I was cheering just for outs baby!

Percival came in and walked the 1st batter, crikey!

I was sweating it now.  A tied score would be very bad.  I had exhausted all options just to get to this point.  The streak could not take one more set back if I were to tie the record.   I had always thought this was a hard double header to achieve, but it had potential.  I just needed an out.

Troy Percival enticed a ground ball for a double play attempt that failed.

Damn, one out was good, but now the tying run was on 3rd with 2 out.

I could not watch the game from the concourse railings near a section.  I was watching it on a restaurant lounge TV through a pane of glass.

Percival was taking a long time.  The clock now read 2:44 PM.  My sedan driver should be waiting at least by now.  I had called him 2 times without an answer.

I heard a cheer from the crowd as I held my head in my hands and watched a ground out.  I ran to videotape the celebration and take a picture.  I then ran down the stairs outside into the blistering heat.  My sedan driver was not answering my calls.  Traffic looked to be gridlocked-and all of the buses with these kids were waiting.  I was furious with the sedan guy.  I saw cabs hauling people out and I made a run for one.

I was running while taping so fast that I asked the cab-driver “hey dude, can you take me to the airport” and it ended up being a woman.  I had to make this kind of decision on the go, the sedan guy was late and I had to pay him anyway, so it was my decision to bail and go with this cabbie.

Missing the flight would have cost me hundreds and I could not worry about losing $70 like that if it meant a better chance to make it to my next game.

It was a good decision to have jumped in that cab as we hit major traffic heading towards the airport.  I was in the security line-up at 4:07 PM for my flight.  There was a decent crowd waiting in front of me-but the TSA was very efficient at the ‘TPA airport’ that day.  I was through in twenty minutes and made it to the gate as they were about to call last call for the flight.  I am sure if I went with the sedan I would have missed the flight.

Game#15 Day #15

Sun Life Stadium

Miami, FLA

July.23/2008

Looking back on it now, I was lucky to have flown into Fort Lauderdale as oppose to MIA airport—as it was closer to Sun Life Stadium and consisted of less traffic.  Not to mention the car rental facility is right next to the airport in ‘FLL’, and they send you to suburbia at the airport in Miami.

I still had a tough time negotiating the streets to the park and stopped at two gas stations.  I arrived at the park at 6:49 PM-and was able to complete the double header.  The only thing that feared me was there were clouds in the air.

Let us be honest here, whatever they call Dolphin Stadium yearly, it still is one of the worst parks in the majors regardless.  This is funny because they have a sign in front of the stadium that reads ‘EVERY DAY IS FAN APPRECIATION DAY’.  This is a football stadium where a baseball game breaks out in—and it rains almost every day or it is reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

You are truly hardcore to be a Marlins season ticket holder!  All you can see on the outside is cement.  Oh yeah, you can also see elevators that you never need to attend the ball game because 20 percent of the seats only are ever occupied.  It boggles my mind how this team has actually won 2 world Series while the Chicago Cubs have skipped 8-10 generations without a World Series.

Inside, the cement is even more presented and there is nothing but Dolphin’s pictures everywhere.  I could take more pictures of Dan Marino then any current Marlin.  Again, you have to be a true baseball fan to attend this park.  I liked a few things about the park.

You could catch a home run ball if you sat in a section all by your self and I also liked the big screen replay monitor.  The mascot ‘Billy the Marlin’ is awesome.  There is my theory that the worse the ballpark and/or team are the more present the team mascot is.  The Metro Dome always had TC, The Montreal Expos former mascot Youppi was awesome-and he was showcased at ‘Olympic Stadium.’  I like both of the Pirates mascot’s too and PNC Park is a wicked ball park-but the team has been bad for 17 years.

In Sun Life Stadium you feel like you are in a big rectangle once inside the stadium itself.  There are not many ball parks that are 80-85% empty when it comes time for the games.  Everybody sticks to the first deck.  The Stadium is very blue and orange-and has signs of the Dolphins in all corners. You would think that with the Marlins winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003 that there would be great wall murals of the teams.

You can barely even find a team photo.

The food inside the building is decent-and you should really try the chicken fingers and French fries.  I buy some as soon as I enter the Stadium each time I have been there.

There are rows upon rows of parking stalls outside the stadium that have grass wedged between each stall-it is kind of a parking free for all.

The atmosphere is more like a football game—with people tossing footballs even more then they throw baseballs in between the cars and the grass before and after the game.

It is a weird feeling to see so many people in line for baseball tickets yet once you are in the park they get lost in the sections.

The Marlins must do half of their attendance each game by walk-up.  This must be frustrating for the staff as they can not be properly equipped with all of the amenities based on the fluctuations in attendance.

After the games, it takes hours for the parking lot to clear as well as people make it their hangout for the night.  Traffic around the Stadium is still bad despite low attendance.  Being just off the turnpike, and near some other main highways, there are just too many cars on the road in this Florida city.

I took my seat in the blistering heat and quickly devoured my food.  The fans quickly witnessed Derek Lowe start to deal a gem for the Braves and the Marlins were down 9-0 in the bottom of the ninth.  Talk about an empty stadium.  I, of course, could not leave the atrocious game until the last out was recorded.  At least I got to see Luis Gonzalez blast a three-run homer. Now he has always been a player I liked.  The Marlins scored their token 4 runs and finally I could leave the park with a Brave win!

The drive from Sun Life Stadium back to St. Petersburg was given some relief with the blowout game taking some of the traffic out early to the highways.  I was tired, but had my streak back to even games per days, while looking forward to continue on to Pittsburgh the next day.

Game#16 Day#16

July.24/2010

Pittsburgh, PA

PNC Park

I had a tough time sleeping since my flight to Baltimore was scheduled for 6:00 AM.  I had driven from Fort Lauderdale all the way back to Tampa Bay, and then showered, got dressed and left for the airport.  I would sleep on the plane this day.  The day was not going to be fun to start.  I was flying into Baltimore as part of my original schedule in order to drive to Pittsburgh.  There was a reason why I had put this flexibility into plane rides.

Since I knew there was a re-scheduling risk I could drive into Pittsburgh from Baltimore in this very event.  It was about a 5 hour drive, so I would arrive with a couple of hours to spare at PNC Park.

I arrived at the airport, and was waiting for my Air Tran Airways early morning flight when I caught some good luck.  The airline was looking for volunteers to give up their seat—in order to give the ticket to others.  This was my opportunity to wing some magic.  I informed the desk agent that my intended city was Pittsburgh—and that I would gladly give up my seat if I could catch another flight to Pittsburgh—and avoid that 5 hour drive.

Not only was I granted that wish, but I was credited with 2 round trip flights from the airline.  Air Tran is simple the best airline in America!

I was in Pittsburgh by 11:00 AM local time.  I was able to cancel my Baltimore car rental and pick up a free rental with my Thrifty Free days at the Pit-airport.  Again, the Pit airport is one of the select few in America that have a car transportation building right at the airport.  With my new found time I was able to check in early to a Best Western just 3 miles from the park.  I had lots of catching up to do on the internet and such.  While I was online, I saw that I was requested to do another interview with Dan Russell’s Sports Talk Show back at home in Vancouver.  This was perfect since I had a lot more time to spare anyways.

I had listened to Dan Russell since I was 9 years old.  He started a talk show in the early eighties in Vancouver and I was one of his first listeners.  It is a credit to Dan’s professionalism that he actually gave me a direct line—in order to call him so we could do the interview.  I was not even nervous at all like I was with other interviews I had done so far.  I felt I knew Dan because of listening to him on the radio for 23 years.

Doing the radio interviews helped stem the tide when it came to family and friends-as I knew they would hear me on the air back home.  Making the doubleheader the previous day had been a huge accomplishment.  Being able to have some down time before heading to the Pittsburgh game was essential to recovering up for the weekend.  I thanked Dan for another great interview and was on my way to PNC Park.  I avoided the garage where my previous car rental had been keyed this time.

The game was pretty bland at 9-1 for the Pirates, but during the night I met the Salter’s from Detroit.

Joe Salter and his three boys Anthony, Jacob and Robert were at the game-and were introduced to me by one of the coolest ushers of all time at PNC.  It was fun talking to these guys while watching the game.  I handed them a business card to take, and agreed to keep in touch with them about the record through the social networks online.  It was such a neat experience talking to all of the people I met on this trip—because baseball was important to all of them like it was to me.  Little did I know that I would meet up with the Salter’s again in the future.

Game#17 Day#17

Kauffman Stadium

Kansas City, MO

July.25/2008

 I arrived in the airport at Kansas City-and went right to the Continental Airlines agent.  I had two flights left on the itinerary, and I was not going to need the last flight on the Sunday now anyways because I booked a flight out of San Francisco the next night—in order to fly into New York.

So there I was.  My flight after this game was out of St. Louis due to some fore flexibility issues.  It was scheduled for 6:00 AM—and was to fly into Oakland.  I was simply trying to trade 2 flights in for a Kansas City flight into Oakland.  The value of the flights I was going to trade in was so much higher than the fare that was to be paid from KC to Oakland.

Like so many times in the streak, Continental Airlines could not have been more-rude so yes I had to drive to St. Louis still.  I would be okay though for cash as I had arranged a one way rental already lined up with the 24 hour rule.

Kauffman Stadium was under complete renovation when I entered the park and all I could think about was why?  Really they should have been shooting for a new ballpark.  The parking lot goes on for days, and is in the middle of both Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadium.  It is truly a parking nightmare to remember where you park your car as it doesn’t seem to have any flow.

It was T-shirt night when I arrived, and it was the most horrible blue t-shirt I have ever received.  I needed to walk around the park a little more to feel better about the experience.  I will tell you about the renovated aspect of this park right now, (2009 version) otherwise I will not have anything nice to say.

The new park had a much greater feel when I came back the next year. When I saw the statue of George Brett in Right Center-I snapped a few photographs with it.  Also the party zone atmosphere they have in that general area in right field is great  for watching the game, and there is plenty more room to walk around now.  The kids also have a place to play baseball, and run-around past the water fountains.

When I walked into the lower concourse, I was happy to see all of the Kansas City Royals of the 80’s in their Hall of Fame: Dan Quisenberry, George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Willie Wilson, Hal Macrae and Frank White.  I hated that team because they came back against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1985 ALCS when trailing 3-1, but I understand the mystique behind the World Champion team as they rallied from down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 85 World Series too.  I think at some point, while playing baseball growing up, that all of my friends tried throwing like the Quiz did!

I spent more of my time looking at their Hall of Fame then watching the team play on the field.

When you are driving in from I-70-you can ask see the field very clearly.  Once inside the stadium you can watch the flow of traffic on the highway.  So when it was rush hour, and I was watching batting practice I bet some of the people in traffic gridlock were doing the same thing as I was.

Obviously they have the biggest scoreboard in the Majors which I definitely liked for evidence.  Also the grass field in center field is also awesome with the back drop of retired numbers of George Brett#5, Frank White #20 and Dick Howser#10.

The definite highlight is the Waterfalls in The Right to Right Center Field.  It is a remarkable sight to see these falls during night games especially.

Overall the changes have made the park a viable place to play, but if you are comparing it to the other new parks, it is in the lower rankings.  It is still an upgrade from before though.

The fans loved to sing country songs any chance they can, so certainly the most applause came when country boy Billy Butler came up to bat.

As for the game itself, I actually saw the Royals hit 3 homeruns in a game but they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3.

This time I was to driving East on I-70 towards St. Louis airport.  These long road trips just to take early morning flights had been taxing.  By the time I walked into the airport in St. Louis I was gassed.

Game#18 Day#18

McAfee Coliseum

Oakland, California

July.26/2008

The airport in St. Louis had stressed me out this time.  A lot of the flights I had flown so far had been pretty smooth.  Here in lies a problem with certain airports when you take early morning flights.  This is prone to these following airports especially:  St. Louis, Philadelphia, Lu Guardia, Minnesota and Ronald Reagan Airport.  Since the TSA doesn’t open in most spots until 4:30 AM, (this is also the case for printing off boarding passes from you airline at the airports—yes even without luggage to check there are lines for just using the self serve kiosks)-you have to make sure you are near the area when it opens up.  Print your boarding passes if at all possible before arriving at the airports.

Well I got burned in St. Louis by being very casual.  While I didn’t mind the reason for half of the passengers that day—because they were military soldiers flying about I was still astounded at the amount of civilians in the security lineup.  I had taken 10 minutes to do a couple of internet sessions at the pay kiosks to check on some email accounts.

So what looked initially like no wait for security-turned into almost 45 minutes and I just hit the general boarding time when I reached my Continental Flight at 5:45 AM local time.

I awoke at Oakland’s International Airport at 10:00 AM sporting a migraine headache.  Sometimes when you start sleeping a lot on planes you miss giving your ears a chance to pop by chewing gum.  I was so groggy when I walked to the shuttle bus and onto Transportation center.

I slammed back a Red Bull-and knew it was only going to be a temporary fix.  I was happy his day because my doubleheader attempt only involved driving over the Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco.  I had been to San Francisco/Oakland to start this road odyssey 28 days ago.  It was my warm-up trip before the real streaking started.  I had practiced driving around the area during the last visit.

I was even more fired up when I saw my rental car upgrade for the day.  Budget Rental gave me a slightly used 2008 White Convertible Mustang to drive.  Are you kidding me? This put a spring in my step.  I actually turned on my camera’s video to record me getting into the car!   I felt like whipping around Oakland before the game-but thought it would be best to get to the park early and get a situational parking spot that would suit my exit strategy.

It was hot this day in Oakland.  Having treated my self to a McDonald’s burger, a tradition for me at Oakland, I could really tell that my body had been putting on those pounds.  It was a pound a day so far.  It was a good thing I would be working that off with those newspapers upon returning home.

It was quite easy on this streak.  You are sitting in ball parks, airports, airplanes, hotels.  Eating whatever is available to you in every domain you are in.  That day it was starting to get to me.

Oakland’s parking lot is a rip-off.  I always chose to pay their fee though because the neighborhood is a little sketchy at night.  Today I had no choice either.  It is really hard to remember where you parked in this lot.  As I was making my way to the view of the numerous tailgating parties I could see the smoke fly off the grills in the area.  I videotaped that as well. My day was going to get weird.

I had no clean clothes other then two Yankee T-shirts in my luggage so I had a Mickey Mantle Yankees shirt on.  I was receiving some flak from the locals.  I gave it back a little by saying, “What are you so angry at me for Mickey Mantle was playing for the Yankees even before you guys had a team here in Oakland.  Besides I like Jack Cust off your team anyway.”

Some of the guys bought my statement and some didn’t.  I continued into the park.

My worst decision might have been to look for a payphone around the concourse in the bleachers section.  The visuals were unbelievable.  The area was all dark and grungy to which no one had cleaned in weeks.  Remarkably there were silver tables that featured condiment stains-and were shoved in all sorts of patterns with folding chairs along this dark concourse.

There were cracks in the uneven cement that reminded me of Shea Stadium once again.  The washroom facilities were dirty and actually had toilet paper stuck in the ceiling tiles.  I knew I was walking around the worst stadium in the Major Leagues.

Forget blaming all of the fans on the park itself.  I can understand it is hard to get a new ball park in the works but at least maintain the one you have by basic sanitation codes!

The scoreboard is small and you can hardly see anything from how far you are away from it anywhere you are in the park.  The top deck is unoccupied and covered up with ugly green tarps.

The Right Field bleachers have a little banquet style room that I have taken salvation from the crowd on nights where the temperature was chilly.

I should have sat in the top deck behind home plate like my 1st visit ever.  At least from there you can see a good view of the field, and the incredible amounts of grass in the outfield foul lines.

I also could not walk around the concourse with out a few guys trying to pick a fight by intentionally running into me each time.  Really! I was ready to throw down but I had to remember the streak.  Losing a world record because I threw a few punches was not worth it, so I went to my seat finally.

I cheered in silence as Josh Hamilton blasted a homerun like none I have ever seen live before.  I was so happy yet again when the Rangers put another 8 runs to their lead in the 9th inning and the final result was Rangers blitzing the A’s 14-6-in a game that lasted 3 hours.

I ran out of the grungy stadium, through the bird-pooped parking lots—with countless debris of beer bottles and barbeque trash towards my car.  It was 4:00 PM-and I had 2 hours to arrive at AT&T Park.

Game#19 Day#18

AT&T Park

San Francisco, CA

July.26/2008

It should have been so much easier then taking one hour and thirty minutes in crazy traffic to cross the Bay Bridge.  I was actually forced to run fast from the parking lot—to the Park—in order to get to the game in time.  I would never drive over the Bridge if given the chance again.  I would always take the other route of I-92 (San Mateo Bridge) to merge with I-101 N San Fran.

It is truly a two different sides of the spectrum kind of experience when you go from the worst ball park in the majors (McAfee) to the best stadium in AT&T Park.  What is not to like about this beautiful park?  I will list 10 reasons why it is awesome viewing wise.

  1. The Gigantic Baseball Glove right beside the Coke Neon Sign (that illuminates at night)—both are about the most iconic visuals as you will see in baseball.
  2. You have a great view of the Bay Bridge.
  3. The ocean view from anywhere in the Park is also outstanding.
  4. The Clock on top of the scoreboard is awesome.
  5. From Right Center Field bleachers you can see Palm Trees that separate the park from The Pier Boats and ocean living.
  6. There is a walkway bridge-deck on the outside of the park.
  7. People are always doing something at sea, whether it is kayakers, or people with yachts parked nearby, it is its own little community.  You can even take yacht rides prior to the game.
  8. Across from the right field bleachers there is a statue of Willie McCovey.
  9. The Port Authority of San Francisco is right behind that statue.
  10. 10.  On the third level deck you can see the Pier’s lights around the Bay Bridge.  Take a look at all of the wall murals on the third level to see historic players.

10 Reasons why AT&T is the best ball park:

  1. The food is the best.  There are 70 different kinds of sandwiches you can eat, ribs, calamari, steak…
  2. You can pay $10 and spend your time in the bleachers walking the observation deck.  This is the greatest value ticket in the majors.
  3. In the concourse they constructed different sets of food menus per section—with your own enclosed off tables to enjoy the game on the multiple big screens in your area.  You can’t walk anywhere without seeing the game in action somewhere.
  4. There is not an inch of the building or surrounding area that wasn’t thought of to include all sorts of visuals.  They even have marbled 3 feet baseballs lined from the Bridge Deck to the parking lot. They have retired players numbers in crooks and cranny’s of the red-brick walls, and there was sidewalks made and donated for by families-that were made up from premium bricks.
  5. There is not a bad picture to be had from anywhere in the park.
  6. The park’s climate is perfect to watch baseball games.  It is not too hot ever and not too cold.  Any season is fine to watch a game
  7. The baseball glove and Coke sign are the best 1-2 punch for a picture, you add the Bay Bridge with lights at night, perfect.
  8. Where else can you buy a Safeway deli sandwich in the majors?
  9. You can get there by taking a historic trolley. One of the best ways to arrive at the ballpark ever.
  10. 10.  The view of the Ocean from anywhere is incredible.   The Red Brick

just seems to bring out the ocean blue even more.

I was completely in awe of the park when I first witnessed a game in 2005 at AT&T.  The crowd is about the most energetic I have seen.  Especially in the bleachers-those guys hang on every pitch.  I have actually seen them cheer innings being kept alive by beating out a double play.  The crowd does bug the other team more then any other park I have seen too.

I buy the $10-300 section seats-and then walk around the right center field wall and watch the game standing.  There is just something about watching the ocean while watching the game.  The concession stands directly behind the scoreboard are my favorite ones of the park.

I have eaten rib sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, mushroom burgers, steak sandwiches. People with me have eaten Calamari, Chinese Food, Cajun food and Salmon.  It truly is a smorgasbord of food to digest.  After eating 3-4 items of these said items, I usually polish off a couple of cokes from the ice-cold vending machines directly under the giant glove.  It is a little thing, but to have these machines available for cold drinks when that is all you want—it sure beats standing in line.

This particular night, I did go to my section on the third-deck and walked the concourse.  The pictures I took were unbelievable at sunset.  Even when I did sit down—I took another 20 pictures of the park from my seat.  The field’s grass is dark green and actually looks like field turf it is so bright and well manicured.  The park looks brand new and still shines.

The extra room in right field is only highlighted by the dark brown dirt and red brick walls.  The all time homerun leaders is proudly posted in right field with Barry Bonds leading with 762 homers, Aaron with 755, Ruth with 714 and other great legend the say hey kid! Willie Mays holding down 4th spot with 660 Bombs.

Directly near the right field foul pole they chart the splash hits.  I have seen a few splash hits at AT&T and it is electric—my only disappointment was I never got to see Barry Bonds play live at AT&T park because he was injured when I was in town previously.

Painfully speaking, because of where I was watching this contest, I needed another quick game.  They game started at 6:05 PM-but my flight from SFO Airport was at 11:15 PM.  If the game hit extra innings I might have been in trouble.  Originally this was set as game#29 of the first streak and game#30 would have been in Boston the next day.  It would have been a Sunday Night Baseball game so the 8:00 PM start time would have come in handy with flying into JFK overnight.

My worries quickly subsided when Arizona’s Brandon Webb—and the Giants phenom Tim Lincecum started off in a pitcher’s duel.  They were still some anxious moments that led to a near 3 hour game, with the D’Backs winning 5-3. When the final out was recorded I ran over the 3rd Street Bridge—and ran to my Mustang rental parked on the Terry Francois St. side of the parking lot.

I was beating the general traffic, but kept all the way by the streets closest to the ocean because the 101 S was highly congested with traffic from the ballpark crowd.

I weaved in and out of side streets and went over another bridge.  At one point, I was sure I was lost and thought I was near an army base.  Time seemed like it was escaping me.  I kept driving.  If I could ever get back to the 101 highway I was home free.  Somehow I managed to wind up back on that very highway and I never knew how I got there.  Had I taken the other way I might have very well missed my flight.  I got to say it was incredible driving around near dusk in that Mustang.  It was smooth!

I felt like James Bond driving through those residential areas just off of Hunter’s Point.  I made it to the Transportation Center, then through the heavy security lineup in great time.

I was flying with Virgin America for the fourth time in my trip-on a red-eye flight to New York.   This new airline was fantastic, the all night flights from West Coast cities to New York were ideal when non-stop.  The seats are spacious—and fees of $160 for a one way ticket to New York were a great deal! I had made my double header, and was headed back East with a shot at the World Record.

Game#20 Day#19

Citizens Bank Park

Philadelphia, PA

July.27/2008

I landed at JFK at 7:30 AM—and proceeded to take the subway all the way from the airport to New York Penn Station.   I had to re-do another Phillies game.  I rode the subway for one hour and then bought an Amtrak ticket to Philadelphia.  It was a nice thing I had done this exact trip with my brother Trent before when we came back from Yankee Stadium in 2006.  He had taught me the ropes. I caught up on my sports by reading the New York Post and the New York Daily news.  The sports coverage from those papers is simply fantastic and I always jump at the chance to read them in New York.

By the time I arrived at Philly’s train station it was all too easy.  I used Amtrak baggage service yet again and took a cab to ‘CBP’ for $20.

Outside the stadium, on that cloudy day, was newly inducted Hall Of Famer ‘Goose Goosage’ signing autographs and posing for pictures.  To me when I was a kid, nothing was better then Goose Gossage coming into pitch a game I was watching on TV.  The trade mark moustache.  This day Goose was wearing an ‘Auto Trader T-shirt’ and was just setting up a booth.  I took my place in line.  I only had to wait a few minutes.

I told him about the streak, and what I was doing, I told him that while I cheered for the 1984 Detroit Tigers in the World Series, that I loved watching him strike those guys out.  I told him that Thurman Munson was my dad’s favorite player all time and that is what made me a Yankees fan.  The guy could not have been cooler.

The Goose told me that he appreciated Thurman Munson maybe more then any other catcher he has ever thrown to.  He asked if I wanted an upgrade ticket to the game, but I told him I wanted to pay my way through the whole streak and thanked him very much for the autograph, the picture and the conversation.

This really made my day.  Mr. Gossage said he knew I would break the record because I was a good kid—that made my day.  I only wish my dad was with me to have met Goose Gossage!

I would see my dad tomorrow because he was flying into Philadelphia Airport just as I was flying out to Pittsburgh before driving to Cleveland.

I had snoozed through an inning when I was awoken by rain flooding the park.  It was my third trip all time to ‘CBP’-and I was in line for another rain delay.  I did not need this as I wanted to visit my brother and his family for a few hours after the game.  It was not to be as I waited through a 2 hour rain delay.  If you are going to be in any park for a big rain delay it might as well be CBP-at least I ate another two cheese steaks, and this time bought extra pop and water.  I remembered this from the last rain delay that the stadium runs out of food and drinks after a certain amount of time.

If the 2 hour rain delay wasn’t enough, the Phillies had taken a 12-5 into the 8th inning when Atlanta put up a 5 run inning that was at least 40 minutes.  I could not stomach any extra innings on this night.  CBP was torture enough the last time 3 weeks prior, with the 3 and a half hour rain delay.  Brad Lidge promptly walked the 1st batter he saw in the ninth and I started pacing.

Luckily for me he recorded the next 3 outs.  My brother Trent picked me up from the park 30 minutes later.  So I arrived at the park at 10:45 AM for 1:35 PM game-and did not leave until after 8 PM. I had to return to the Amtrak Station pick up my luggage and then do laundry when I returned to my brother’s house in Sicklerville New Jersey.  I went to bed at midnight.

Game#21 Day#20

Progressive Field

Cleveland, OH

July.28/2008

Seeing my dad at the Philly airport brought my spirits up immensely.  Now that family was joining me for the trip things were going to get easier for a few days.  I wouldn’t see them for actual games until 2 days later in Boston, but I could sense it.  My dad hugged me, and told me he was so proud of me for this streak chase thus far, and that my brothers and he would take care of me through the duration of the time they were there with me.

I thought back to how I used to watch baseball every weekend during the summer when I was a young kid.

I lived at the ballpark.  My dad would wake me up at 7:00 AM on Saturday mornings-and take me with him to the yard. I watched his men’s league tournaments for Fast Pitch.  My other brothers would come to the park later—but I always left at the crack of dawn with my dad.

It was also a way to make a living as a kid.  I would be the team bat-boy, I worked on the Field Crew between games, and during the games if I wasn’t doing that, my friend Rob Nelson and I would spend the day retrieving foul balls for 25 cents a crack.  We were the masters at this art.  Rob took the 1st base side and I took the 3rd base side.  We were faster then the other kids and made a fortune.  By the time my brothers showed up near noon—I had spent half the day at the park and earned more money then most kids got for their weekly allowance.

My dad was the coolest father at the ballpark too, he would hand the concession workers a hundred dollars-telling them to let his 4 boys all eat and drink whatever they wanted-whenever they wanted it.  He would have us all pointed out to the concession cashiers-and we were golden for the weekend.  Other kids were jealous of this treatment.

Our dad’s baseball team was all I knew growing up before teen years.  It was the community life at its finest.  It was definitely the most fun I had as kid.  Even after the baseball games were over, there would be team parties on the Saturday nights. If the team had been eliminated from the tournament-then the parties would just last longer.

My dad’s team would hardly ever get eliminated on the 1st day though. Most of the time they would be winning the tournaments until after the Saturday night team parties.

By the time I reached my teen years, my dad and mom split-and dad moved to Calgary-before settling back in Vancouver again the year I graduated.  I always remembered those ball yard days with him.  Baseball was our best time together.

Through my teen years, my dad helped me with my baseball career to the point I almost made it to a University scholarship at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA before knee injuries from football cost me that chance to continue playing.

At age 19 I was still able to umpire another full season after my baseball retirement—and had the good luck to work several games with my dad as an umpiring team.  Again we were having fun at the ballpark together.

My dad was instrumental—in the community I grew up—in paying kids to be umpires back in the early 80’s as they developed a concession stand in or to pay for the expenses of the Minor League Association—and of course that meant the umpires were paid out with some of the money raised.

For years he was the umpire in chief and taught kids how learn the rules of the baseball.  Umpiring baseball only helped me grow a deeper appreciation for the game.

It was years since we had been to the baseball park until I took him to Safeco Field for Fathers day in 2006.  We got to see Jamie Moyer strike out Barry Bonds two times, and I actually bought my dad his ticket-and bought him breakfast.

In 2007, we did the day trip to Seattle from Vancouver B.C Canada on my birthday.  During the drive down, I had told my dad that I was going to visit the rest of my stadiums in 2008—and that I wanted him to come with me to some baseball games.  We both agreed it was a good idea.

After catching up with dad for a minute, I saw my brother Clint for the first time in 3 years.  Again it would be a short visit this day, but the promise of these guys joining me for the trip in a couple of days invigorated my energy.  My dad also handed me a couple of crisp bills to soften the financial worry a little.  While the first part of the trip I hadn’t had to worry so much, the extra flights, missed games where money was still lost-had finally taken its toll on my budget.  It was much needed and appreciated.

I had purchased the plane ticket at the all-star break.  I was able to secure a great $90 flight from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Even more impressive was my car rental from Pittsburgh-that was to be returned to Akron Ohio Airport- where the one-way car rental was ‘free’ between airports-and the rental rate was under $50.  The few hour drive was a nice one in.

After stopping for my latest McDonalds lunch, I was at Cleveland’s downtown core paying $7 for a great parking spot-a half mile from the park.

I had seen the Yankees play at Progressive the year before.  My impressions of the park were decent.  I liked the interactive things you can do like throwing baseball at the radar guns and hit baseballs.

The park is very similar to US. Cellular Field-with a giant scoreboard in left, a big drop in the centerfield background-where each bleachers sections end.

The grass is checkered style and has a nice light green color to it.  The only problems I had were how late they opened the gates.  The gates were opened at 5:45 PM for a 7:05 PM game-and I don’t think that was a one time occurrence either.  There are several nice wall murals from the great teams of yester year.

While the concession stands are decent with food, there was not much space to eat your dinner at tables anywhere.  The park is also tough to find good areas for standing while watching the game on the concourse.

Outside the park is adequately situated to the streets of downtown.  It is actually quite accessible once you are able to navigate through the exit turnoffs.     Walking around is not really conducive from any spot in the park either but maybe the right field lower deck section.  The section’s all kind of end in the lower sections.

There are several ticket gates of entrances though—so maybe that is how they can open the gates so late.

The game was quick enough with Kenny Rogers pitching for the Tigers, and even though he lost the game to the Indians-he worked quick-in a 5-0 loss.  I had an easy drive to Akron-where I stayed in a nice Best Western.  The next day I was flying to Atlanta for a game before flying into FLL for the night.

It was a weird plane stop over from Akron-that flew into Atlanta at 4:30 PM-and I had a 7 hour layover in order to fly to Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 PM.

That is why it was such a cheap-fare.  If I missed the flight to FLL-I was carrying those free flight vouchers from Air Tran now anyway.

Originally, that morning flight from Atlanta to Boston was $200—while if I flew out of ‘FLL’ with Jet-Blue the next day I was able to save over $135.  Plus the trip into Boston-from Fort Lauderdale-would arrive a few hours earlier to meet up with my brothers and dad.  Sure it was risky to do this with the extra inning factor, but with limited cash it had to be this.

Game#22 Day#21

Turner Field

Atlanta, GA

July.29/2008

My plan did almost back fire. That is until Albert Pujols turned into a one-man wrecking crew at Turner Field.  In the 6th inning with his team losing 2-1, he hit a homerun to centerfield that nearly left the stadium.  The crowd buzzed with awe.  In the eighth he doubled, then flashed some speed by stealing 3rd -before scoring on the next play.  The Cards added 5 more runs in the 9th-and I got out of the park from the center field exit in no time.

Having been in the city earlier in the month I knew the way to the airport and was there at 10:30 PM.  Since I already had 2 bags checked-I was good for security clearance and made it to my gate by 10:55 PM.

Atlanta’s airport is gigantic, and you must always use the tram to get anywhere as it could be 4-6 miles from your gate once you go through security.

When I made it to the Best Western in Fort Lauderdale-it was 1:00 AM.

Game #23 Day #22

Fenway Park

Boston, MA

July.30/2008

Never trust the hotel staff ever when they are given instructions for a wake up call-and always have several back up plans!  I told the guy at the Best Western 4 times not to miss out on this call as I had a 7:45 AM flight from Fort Lauderdale to Boston.  At 6:23 AM, I heard my phone ring because it was set from the day before still.  I had packed everything for a quick exit already and left the hotel.

As I was in the elevator, a couple had received my wake-up call even though I had reminded the hotel clerk several times of my hotel room number!

In the car, I knew at the second I was 5 minutes into my drive, that I had left my camera battery charger in the hotel room.  I called the front desk from my cell phone and they had assured me that they would take care of this and they had found the battery-(Later after the streak-I would have trouble with them-they actually asked for a pre-arranged Fed-Ex package sent on my behalf-in order to send my camera charger to my brother-within the United States as they would not send it tom me in Canada. When I finally received the Fed Ex package in September it was a cell phone charger that was not even mine.) Thanks for the help fellas!!

So I had this added stress now for my drive in.  I drove to the car rental return, and was fortunate the Fort Lauderdale Airport was so close to the rental center.  I walked into a 30 minute security wait-and barely made my flight!  I was mad throughout the flight.  The camera/flip video was $300 in cost.  At least at that time, I was sure I was going to get the charger back, so was able to overcome my anger.  Had I known about not receiving the charger back ever I would have had a harder time burying the problem.

I still had my other digital cameras, and the camera/video player was fully charged for the last week of the trip so maybe I would get by.

I arrived at Boston International Airport at the same time my younger brother Ken had.  Together, we waited for my Dad, my brother Trent and my brother Clint.  Ken had flown in all the way from Calgary, while my other three family members had driven from Philadelphia, stopped off at Yankee Stadium for a baseball game that night before making to Bean-town on this day.

“You look like crap.” Ken said as we were waiting around the arrivals level pickup traffic.  It was already muggy outside.

“You would be too if you were on the road for a month already and had seen 30 games in 30 days.”  I replied.  I felt lousy because I never ate at Turner Field-and ate vending food in Fort Lauderdale for dinner the previous night, only to top it off by missing out on breakfast in the morning before the flight.

“We will get some pasta in you.” Ken punched me in the gut, “man you got big.”

“A pound per day broseph!” I knew I was bigger as large shirts had become extra large.  I had eaten everything in sight for weeks now.  Sure there was some walking involved—and running for different methods of transport but there was only so much I could do.

“Yeah, I will probably put on a pound a day in Boston, New York, St. Louis and Chicago.”  Ken was sporting a goatee which was in better shape then my beard.  He was in a Polo-shirt and khaki shorts while I had on my British Flag shorts on, the same black TPX baseball hat-(neutral to all home parks and bought on e-bay before the streak had started)-and a beige rugby shirt.

“That must be them.”  We saw a tan Grand Cherokee, I had advised my brother Trent-(who was an astute traveler himself)-on the best rates we could get from car rentals on the trip—and he had rented this Jeep for us.

I had booked the one airfare we would all take together—in flying from Philadelphia to St. Louis—a few days way back on a Super Saver fare 3 months before the streak started.  Of course I had also pre-purchased these baseball tickets for the ‘Booth Boy Summit of 2008’ back then too.

Talking about a tough deal, we were going to the 4 hardest stadiums to buy tickets for.  I had scouted out great deals for all of us to pay $200 Canadian-($180 U.S) each in order to get bleacher tickets at Fenway, view level seats in Old Yankee Stadium-(the last year of  Yankees Stadiums existence)-right field view seats at Busch-and awesome Field View Level seats in Chicago.

The talk had been great that spring when I put the trip together.  It was hard to pin everyone to a set of days that worked out for everyone’s schedule.  Then my world record attempt further complicated things. For a few days after that, the schedule looked bleakest for us all to be together.

That is when I came up with these 4 days in a row.  Now we were here.  This schedule would work for us all.

Trent booked us into Hilton’s double rooms in each city, my dad was the (clubhouse leader)-in buying meals, Kenny and Clint kicked in with some extra’s parking expenses and paid their share of the hotels, while I took car of the one-way SUV rental from St. Louis to Chicago.

“Look at these stragglers.”  My dad laughed, the Cherokee soon featured a ½ ton of Booth Boys in the car.

Over Panini, spaghetti, clam chowder, and oysters at a Boston restaurant on Commonwealth Ave, we caught up on our lives. It was the first time we had been on vacation all together since Puerto Vallarta in 1995.

I was happy and tired but driven to make it to the game with my brothers.  I could take a little mental breather for a few days.  Just not driving was totally fine with me today.  Not fighting with traffic would help me relax.

The Hilton Hotel was less than a mile away from Fenway Park! What a great hotel it was.

Out of all my family, only Trent and I had seen Fenway before.

“This place is awesome,” were the first words out of my Dad’s mouth.  He was wearing a new Boston Red Sox ball cap, with his red shirt and black shorts.  “This was a good idea all around.  His face lit up.

I had fun watching my brother’s expression as we walked in passing the Statue of ‘Ted Williams’ and stopped for pictures

“I can’t believe how tiny the park looks.”  This came from Clint

“The food smells good and I can smell the hot dogs and I am ready for beer, Kenny said.

We saw the pennants beyond the grandstand-and were watching all of the people maneuvering through the tiny concourse.

“RF Grandstand-34 section, this is us.”  Trent said.

We had a great view of the Green Monster—and the seats are probably the best area to sit for value and game viewing.  I have sat in the grandstand (Field Level) on three other occasions-and did not like the pole beams intruding on sightlines-and with the seats smaller in stature, the vendors do pose a problem coming up and down the aisles.

With 5 grown men—the bleachers were the best option.

“This park is incredible,” said Clint, “and we get to watch Mark Teixeira’s debut for the Angels.”

It was trade deadline time time-and we had seen some of the trades come down before this day come down, and more were to come down in the next 24 hours.  Little did we know that the game we were watching was Manny Ramirez’s last game as a Boston Red Sox baseball player.

“Don’t you forget Vladdy either,” I reminded Clint who was on board even before with the stadium visits for the trip—and was ecstatic when he heard we would see Vladmir Guerrero play in two nights consecutively.

The Angels were in 1st place with a 66-40 vs. the Red Sox-who were fighting out the AL East with the Rays at a 60-46 record, the pitching matchup was Joe Saunders (13-5) vs. Josh Beckett (9-7).

“I can’t believe that you guys are here.”  I almost broke down in tears right there because it was perfect.  My dad and brothers had walked into my record pursuit.  Whether or not the record fell I would have the next few days with these guys and I knew it was going to be an epic trip.

My dad and I walked the concourse at Fenway midway through the game and I talked his ear off about my first trip to Fenway, and about the surrounding area.  It was great.  Even as a Yankee fan—you have to appreciate the history of Fenway.  We watched with sheer delight as the night was sunny for the whole game.  I still got to see the Red Sox lose 9-2 to the Angels.

We found a tavern across the street from Fenway after the game and played pool, and talked about baseball afterwards as we were heavily anticipating the next day. It was there where my dad told me that my brothers and he had received a citation for drinking in the Yankees Parking lot the day before!

To hear this news I laughed hard.

We hit the pillows hard at the Hilton-and were ready for the Yankees Stadium next!

Game#24 Day#23

Yankee Stadium

The Bronx, NY

July.31/2008

After a great drive through the states of Massacheutsses, Connecticut and New York we headed to the Yankees Parking lot to drop off the Cherokee before taking the subway to Times Square.

We ate burgers and fries at ‘ESPN-New York’ —and watched several different player transactions on trade deadline day.

Manny Ramirez went to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Yankees picked up Xavier Nady and Pudge Rodriguez.

Boston picked up Jason Bay.

After lunch, it was a great day walking the streets of New York with my family.  Soon they would encounter what I had been fighting with the whole time during the streak.  We all had drank way too much beer and water to be on the subway for 20 minutes from Times Square to Yankees Stadium—and since it was only 6:10 PM for a 7:05 PM game, I thought it would be a good idea for us to get off at the next sub station to use a washroom—and then catch the next train 5-10 minutes later.

Unfortunately we got off at the 153rd St exit, which is a rough neighborhood and also did not have a public toilet. I explained Yankee Stadium was only a few miles and that we should walk-but that was clearly a bad idea on my part.  We walked briskly back to the train station and promptly missed the next train.

It was now 6:34 PM, and despite arriving in New York at 2:00 PM, I had to worry about making it to the game on time.  My brothers had just entered my world, and it did not help that all of us still had to go to the bathroom!

It was a tough 10 minutes until the next train as we all said our pieces to each other.  It was bound to happen during the trip at some point, we are all still brother’s after all-separated by a mere 46 months from 1st born to last born, with me being 3rd male out of 4.

I was used to routine turning into circus acts with some of my traveling to the stadiums so far, now these guys were aware of how best laid plans could change so fast and go awry.

When we finally arrived in front of Yankee Stadium, I decided because my brother Ken had a camera, he should come with me and we ran into the Stadium while the other guys went to the car to pick up items for inside the park.

We made it into the park at 6:56 PM and to our seats at 7:02 PM.  My brothers came up to the seats with my dad after the anthem started.

Ken was the last brother to see Yankee Stadium-and it brought back memories of us watching the Yankees play some awesome games vs. the Toronto Blue Jays on the TV.

Ken’s favorite player was Steve Sax back then-and my favorite player was Don Mattingly.  We cheered all year for them to beat the Jays out but they didn’t win the pennant in 89’—because the Jays did.

Mattingly never really recovered after his back problems and Steve Sax eventually was traded to the Sox so Ken and I cheered for the Blue Jays more because the Yanks were not as good back then-and the Jays always made the playoffs.

I loved Dave Winfield as a player with the 80’s Yankees almost as much as Mattingly—so when he went to the Jays in their World Series run of 92-I cheered. Ken and I cheered Paul Molitor the next year for the ’93 run.

I was happy when the Yanks won in 1996-but it was a bittersweet celebration for me because it was a year after Don Mattingly retired.  The same could be said in 2009-when the Yankees won their 27th World Series-a year after Mattingly left with the Yankees with Joe Torre, in order to become bench coach in Los Angeles.

I love the Yanks.  Derek Jeter personifies baseball.  I saw a play in my first game at Yankee Stadium in which his team was up by 4 runs.  Jeter was between 3rd and home, when Jason Giambi scorched one to the shortstop.  Bobby Abreu had been on 1st.  With a drawn in infield, the shortstop-(I think it was Mark Grudzielanek on KC) had Jeter caught cold.  I watched as Jeter waved Abreu to third, and also yelled for Giambi to run to second.  He stayed in the run-down until the men were at 2nd and 3rd before he was tagged out.   Jorge Posada hit a 2 run single as the next batter.

If Jeter gives up, there are men at 1st and 2nd only-and not two men in scoring position which was the case.  Jeter is always thinking.

We watched as the bleachers yelled role call.

My dad had come up to his seat, “I love this ritual.  My dad was referring to the right field bleachers calling out each ballplayer in the field until an acknowledgement was made by each of them tipping their hat in the direction of the bleachers in right.

“These are good seats even for being in the second deck,” said Clint.  His favorite player Vlad Guerrero completely booted one in the field only to have my brother say, “he will hit a homer to make up for it”, which Vladdy did the same inning.   Clint then explained that Vladimir always tries to leg out doubles on long singles because he still thinks he was 25—which Vladimir did the next time he was at the plate. Clint was super ecstatic when Vladimir threw his helmet after failing to make it.  Just like the previous night, and in his next batting at-bat, Vladdy then swung at a ball in the dirt right into a double play at the second basemen.   The previous night in Boston, the ball had hit the fence in right field for a double.

. My brother Trent and I had gone to that Jeter game in May of 2006 together and we made it onto the ‘ESPN’ high light reel when A-rod smashed two homeruns into our section.

My dad and I watched our first Yankees game together sometime in the mid-80’s (when he was home sick for a rare occurrence in his life)-in which the Yankees beat the Jays 22-5 and Mattingly went something like 4-5 with a few doubles, a homer, and I think Rickey Henderson stole about 7 bases.

My dad loved Yankee Stadium even before he visited it-in having been a Thurman Munson fan early in his adult life.

My brother Trent had taken both my dad-(and our Grand Father Lou Booth)-to a Boston Red Sox at Yankees game the previous year at Yankee Stadium-representing 3 generations of Booths at one game.  My 82 year old grandfather had the time of his life because he had never been to any ballpark in the USA before.

For this trip I bought everyone a Yankees hat and t-shirt.  While we would have great fun at the rest of the parks throughout the trip too, I had the most fun at our day in Yankee Stadium and in New York.

Yankee Stadium was full of history and nostalgia from the time you walked in. The bleachers had their own private entrance-with their own bathrooms and concessions-that were secluded from the other part of the stadium, but contained the most energetic and fun fans in the place.

The concourse of the main building was quite narrow and there was little concession space, but the place carried incredible ambience.  The vendors were prominent in every aisle charging 9.50 for a beer-and being the loudest vendors in the majors.

There is no park in the majors that is more represented with t-shirts and team Jerseys then Yankee Stadium was or the new park is.  Almost as fun as the game itself was staying after the game and taking pictures of the historic field in the background with the sweet tunes of Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York, playing on an infinite loop after the game.

Having all 5 of us there for a game in the last season was wicked.  All of us can say we made it to the old Yankee Stadium in the final season!  It is my hope that all of us can make it to the new Yankee Stadium for a trip sometime together.  Thanks guys-for that awesome day in New York!!

Oh yeah, the Angels won the game 12-6-but we got to see 5 homeruns hit.

After the game, I was called on my cell phone in the car. I was interviewed back home on CKNW 980 AM Radio in Vancouver.  It was a call that lasted 15 minutes-and it was awesome to be sharing the experiences that I had with my brothers and dad as we made our way back to New Jersey.

Game#25 Day#24

Busch Stadium

St. Louis, MO

Aug.01/2008

I never thought anything was going to equal the previous day.  We had arrived back at my brother’s house to spend a quality morning with my nieces and nephew—and Trent’s wife Kristy before returning to the road.  It was a quick trip from Philadelphia to St. Louis.  It was going to cost us a fortune to all take the shuttle into the Hilton at $17 each-so I got us on the next transportation shuttle bus, and then negotiated a deal with Budget to give me an extra few hours head start on the 24 hour airport rule—so I would not have to return after the St. Louis game to pick up the Mini-SUV, which had been the original plan.

Budget was awesome to let me have this deal early.  I am a Fast Break member with them-and have/had spent a lot of money with them.  We got a Mitsubishi SUV.  My brothers thought it was a little small, but for a $65.00 rental that started out in St. Louis and ended up the next day in Minnesota-it was a great deal.

Yes we had a five hour drive from St. Louis to Chicago tomorrow, but we were all tough guys.  I once again told them-“welcome to my world.”

That day in St. Louis was myopic.  My brother Trent knew a guy at head office St. Louis, and that gentlemen made a few calls and arranged for my dad and I too receive ‘Field Passes’-and to be interviewed by Fox-Sports Midwest.  I was almost in disbelief of that option, but it was now going to happen later that day.

This experience was even better because none of us had been to new Busch Stadium-so all of us were there for the first time.  Overall it was my 29th stadium so I only had “The Ballpark In Arlington” for stadiums left to complete my active 30.

Much like Coors, Safeco and AT&T Park, the red-brick around the whole Stadium at Busch Stadium is top-notch.  The back-drop of the arch makes any picture immaculate.  The scoreboard in center field with the red-birds, Budweiser sign-and all of the retired uniform numbers let you know this club is rich in team history.  The five decks all feature read seating which make the stadium extremely bright.

My dad and I were summoned by the Fox Sports News Sports Anchor, and it was show time.  The announcer was a cool guy-and he asked me about the streak and where I was in the contest.  Then he asked my dad a few questions.  We were talking to an audience in the millions-as our pictures of the trip thus far-were being showed on TV to all of the viewing audience.

My dad told the announcer that “We are very proud of Doug as he has done this trip and included us in his journey, and that Busch Stadium ranks right up there with all of the rest of the parks.”

I echoed those sentiments when it was my time to talk to the camera.  I was surprised I was not nervous.  I had kind of been interviewed a lot over the last 6 weeks-so this was almost to be expected for me now.

To be on field at Busch Stadium with my dad was one of my top 5 memories all time with him.  We have some great pictures to prove we were there that close on the field.  At was at this point that all of the hard work, sacrifices, spent money, planning, studying had paid off because my brothers and my dad were going to have these memories forever.  I told the Fox guy that on the camera.  The guy from Fox wished me the best-and then I waved to Albert Pujols even though he did not see me that well, he waved back. Not because he knew me or anything, but because he was cool.  Man that guy is big!

I was about 20 feet from him-I wanted to thank him for saving my bacon that night in Atlanta, instead I told that story to Fox too.  Busch Stadium is such an awesome park-and their staff was truly amazing to us Booth Boys.

What a game we saw, we saw as Ryan Ludwick crack 2 homers into Big Mac Land in Left Field, and Pat Burrell cracked a homerun that almost hit us in the standing room area we were standing in.

Had we known how awesome our seats really were-we would have sat there the whole game-we did sneak in the last few innings.  None of us wanted to leave the ball park.  We were only a few hundred feet from the Hilton where we were staying.

We made the trip out of the park and we headed to Mike Shannon’s for steaks and drinks.

My brothers and dad partied as I told them I would drive all the way to Chicago the next morning.  It was a noon start for those guys-and I was going to drop them off at 10 in the morning or so before I made another 6 hours drive to Minnesota.  At least I knew the way to Minnesota-as I had done the drive in my cross country trip with the Cavalier in 2007.

We probably didn’t even need the hotel room that night.  I felt bad about having to wake these guys up early and after a few hours sleep only.  The whole St. Louis to Chicago trip in consecutive trips always carried that time of ballgame.  It was really 4 games in 3 ½ days.

While those guys all slept, I was in the business center re-arranging the rest of my journey.  I had Minnesota the next night, and then a doubleheader matchup on Sunday that would put me at 28 games in 26 days.  I then had Toronto on the 4th of August-before the Chicago White Sox was the trip finale on the 5th.  My flights had been pre-bought for me to fly out of Texas on 5th because I knew I could always use my mom’s flight pass from Dallas Texas to Toronto on the 4th.

She had already informed me that-should I make the double header-which I would have no problem flying into Toronto on her pass on the 4th-and then flying on her pass to Chicago on the 5th.

Again my ticket with American Airlines was flying from Dallas to Toronto on the 5th and from Toronto to Chicago on the 6th.  This meant I would use my original flight if I missed the doubleheader of HOU-TEX.

Game#26 Day#25

The Metrodome

Minneapolis, MN

Sat Aug.02/2008

I was anxious to get the day started-so I kind of rushed my family to get out of St. Louis.  The previous night I had actually bumped into Jayson Werth of the Phillies in the lobby of the Hilton. I just told him that he was an awesome player-and that he looked like “EDGE’ from wrestling, he said everyone always tells him that.  It was a neat experience.  I never got a chance to tell him what I was doing but told him I had seen him play 3 times already that month so he got the picture I was a big baseball fan.  It was like 3:30 AM in the morning too-so I didn’t really want to disturb him.

It was a very somber and quiet drive to Chicago from St. Louis.  While I was focused on what I needed to do driving next-the air was filled with sadness as this was the day that we would be separated.  My brothers and dad would go to Wrigley Field all together-and I would chase history by attending another game at the ‘Metrodome.’ Believe me, I wanted to hang out with these guys in Chicago-but we all knew I was so close to history.  I had to move on with the streak.  I had told the guys what I did in not chasing the Cleveland-New York long shot double header and they told me they would have supported my try if I had gone for it.

It would have backfired on me as the Cleveland game went 3 hours and 14 minutes-meaning I would have had only 75 minutes to catch the plane ride to Cleveland-in which the plane was delayed anyway-and I would have never made it to Yankee Stadium in 30 minutes from ‘LGA’- during high rush hour anyway-my 2009 streak attempt would later teach me that.

At 10:30 AM in the morning we all posed for a picture in front of the Hilton at O’Hare Airport-and then I was on my way after hugging my dad and brother’s.  I was visibly upset for 45 minutes afterwards.  It was a lot of emotion to deal with leaving my brothers and dad in Chicago.

It was great to have my family join me on the trip for a spell.  I was only okay once the game at Wrigley came on the satellite radio.  I, all of a sudden, had lots of energy.  That Mitsubishi SUV was a great drive.  I knew my course of action.  I made up so much time heading into Minnesota-and I made it to the airport at 4:00 PM.  I had 2 hours before 1st pitch.  I explained to the Budget guy that I was in trouble with my luggage-and asked if I could leave it at the Budget window as I was coming back after the game.  I showed him my ticket for the next morning-and told him I was not staying at a hotel because I needed to save money anyway.

The Budget agent agreed to let me keep my bags there.  I actually mailed him Twins tickets later that month to say thanks.

Amongst 40,000 plus fans, I saw the Indians and Paul Byrd win 5-1.  If there was a game I was not totally into it was this one.  But now I was anticipating a big day to see the Astros doing the day and Rangers during the night.  I of course made game #27 in 26 days at Houston before going through that thundershower at the ‘IAH’ airport to halt the breaking of the record.

I had some more drama when I tried to check in for my 5th of August flight to Toronto-because American Airlines had cancelled my whole flight schedule to Toronto from Dallas and then onward to Chicago.  I had called my step-mother Nancy by then to have her book my flight.  I attended my 30th stadium in Arlington Texas before hitting The Rogers Center and Us Cellular Field to -potentially have tied the World Record that Guinness currently said was the record.

It was an incredible journey that took 41 days and 41 games.  I was a new man after it.  I even made a game in Seattle for first pitch on my way home.  I was so broke at the end of the trip I was lucky Seattle’s concession stand accepted Canadian currency-and paid me back in American cash-otherwise I would have ran out of United States money.

In Toronto I had cashed in all of my Air Miles Voucher for future tickets-and had bought a set of 6 tickets to the game I was attending in hopes I could sell some for money in case I needed it like a scalper.

Well, I sold the tickets for $70 and that money rescued me at the end of the trip.  I took a bus back to Canada in the morning-and followed that with a cab ride home.

I had made 51 plane trips (if you include the layovers)-had seen 41 games in 41 days in 30 different parks-visited 38 states-and racked up 40000 miles in the Air! I had also driven 10000 miles on the road.  I spent 17000 Canadian Dollars/or 15600 US dollars for whatever currency you have.

I had resourced every inch of my being in order to make it to the end of my journey.  My journey included 15 different radio interviews-8 different news paper articles, and I had taken over 1000 pictures to chronicle the chase.

I made it home on Aug.08/2008-and worked for 3 weeks straight before I had a half day off before working 308 days in a row.

Dan Russell (of CKNW 980 AM Sports Talk Vancouver) interviewed me for a full hour over the Labor Day Weekend of ‘2008’-when he came back from holidays.  It was fun reminiscing with him about the trip that was.  Right after the interview, I found out my record-tying quest was definitely not the record at all as Josh Robbins had set the record for 30-26.  For 2-3 weeks I was miserable.  It ate at me. If you took out the All-Star Break-I actually had seen 30 games in 26 days.  Or even the day I went to see my mom- I could have had gone and re-done a game n Cleveland that day.  I was consumed.  I worked hard and began to recover in my finances from the trip.

Right around the World Series time-they had begun to post the new schedule for 2009.  I took a look at it for a couple of days and knew there was a possibility.  No matter what happened I would plan on making it back out to the United States for another chance at the record in 2009. This time I would not have the all-star break as a penalty

I was determined-and would not take a day off between Aug.30/2008 and July.05/2009.  I was armed with too much knowledge not to attempt this feat again.  Whether I liked it or not-it was still going to cost a lot of money this time.  The good news was that I had 4 round-trip plane fares in my back pocket thanks to frequent flyer miles and Air Tran Airways plane vouchers.  I would have 13-15 free car rentals.  I would stay at Best Western’s all over the place with Air Miles collected between fall of 2008-and spring of 2009.

Much like 2008, I did not know whether I was going to have enough money until spring.  At the end of April 2009 I knew I had enough.

My trip would be from July.22-Aug.14/2009 for a 30-24 attempt.  When the Yankees and Oakland were rained out in an April series-and the make up game was changed to July.23 at night-I now had a 30-23 attempt-because I was in Toronto for a day game anyway-and had done the research for that such attempt amongst many other doubleheader scenarios that I researched.

I was lucky with this 2009 schedule, that all of my plane trip doubleheaders were within bus distance of Toronto.  In April of 2009 the physical toll of working everyday almost made me lose the trip, but I rallied after that Yankees re-schedule.  If you counted the 41 days straight of the record chase-I had not had a full day off in over 500 days.    I flew to Las Vegas to rest before starting this madness all over!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s