The Baseball Radio Interview at Everett

Ginny had her hand on the car door when she saw Dan lean over and motion frantically at her. It was the international sign for “come here,” or “look, there’s something wrong with my arm and my hand’s gone to sleep.”  Ginny thought, “What the heck?” and started gawking around the parking lot looking for some exciting site that she was missing. Ooh, perhaps a robbery, or a police show-down. Or maybe Dan’s hand had just gone to sleep and he was shaking it to get the pins and needles out. No, the look on his face was more insistent than that. Vaguely she began to hear him yelling from inside, “Get in! Get in!” So she did what any curious person would do: took another scan of the surrounding cars and mall entrance. Nope, no action there. So she opened the door. After she slid into the passenger seat, Dan pointed to the radio, making a stern face. Chatter emanated and Ginny looked at him puzzled. With eyebrows raised and a more intense “listen” expression, Dan once again pointed to the radio. Then she understood. She heard Dan first, then herself, talking about baseball and our trips across the country. Wow! We were on the radio. In Seattle, Washington!

But we should back up a bit. Let’s start with why we were in Washington in the first place. Like some of our trips, this one was family-related—Ginny’s brother Mike was getting married. Thus we were tacking on our baseball trip. We arrived in the state a week early, spent some time with Mike and his bride-to-be Colleen, which included attending a Seattle Mariners’ game (another story unto itself), followed the next day by a visit to the Everett AquaSox. When we arrived, there was already a line outside the gate, so Dan got a place in while Ginny went off to take pictures of the outside of the park and their sign. Of course, Dan did his natural thing, started talking to the people around him.  Baseball fans love to talk, and those that get to the park early wearing the jersey of the home team, holding seat cushions with the same logo or even bringing their own lawn chairs, are, by goodness, rabid fans, as were the few in front of Dan. They had their lawn chairs set up smack in front of the gates having staked out their territory even earlier than we.

Dan inquired curiously about the unannounced doubleheader and why in the world they only opened the gates five minutes before the first game was suppose to start.  The couple explained that due to the rainout the previous night and since the opponents would not be able to return that season and since they hadn’t called the rainout until all of the staff had been sent home, there was no convenient way to get the concession staff in any earlier than when they normally arrived. It was obvious to these fans that we were not locals, so it was their turn to be curious: what were we doing in their fair city.  Dan explained that we travel the country visiting minor league parks. “Why just the minors,” they asked and Dan rattled off all our reasons, ending with a smile and telling them that, usually, the local people are much more friendly at the minor league parks.

Just as he had gotten to this point, the gates opened and everyone participating in the conversation scattered towards their seats or some other destination within the park. Shortly after we got settled in to our seats, meaning that Ginny had filled out all the players’ names, numbers, positions in the appropriate order in her scorebook and we had eaten our hotdogs, a young woman approached us and asked, “Are you the couple who travels around to different minor league parks?”  Dan nodded and she said, “My name is Katy Khakpour, and I work for KSER Radio with the AquaSox game show. Can I interview you for the show?  It won’t be live, I will do it on my tape recorder.”  To say the least, we were taken aback—why in the world would anyone want to interview us— but we thought what the heck, it was a local radio show and nobody we knew would hear it. Dan turned to Ginny who was looking at him, and we gave each other that mutual shrug of the shoulders indicating that why not—let’s do it.  With that Dan turned to Katy, and said, “Sure, since I have the ideal face for radio, it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea. But can we do it in between the two games so that we don’t miss anything?”  She said sure and that she would return in between games.

Thus shortly after the Everett AquaSox (short season single A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners) lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) 5 to 7, Katy showed up again with her tape recorder.  She informed us that the interview would be initially broadcast during their Saturday morning baseball round-up show and that she would edit out anything that we might say that would be inappropriate or that would be “bleeped out” during a live broadcast. Thus assured that we would not get ourselves into too much trouble, we proceeded with the interview. Interestingly enough, her questions were very similar to the ones we get all the time: How many parks have you been to? Why do you do it? Which is the best or which is your favorite park and/or team? What else about doing this interests you? And the such. After it was over, we exchanged addresses and Katy promised that she would send us a copy of the tape because we were sure that we would not be in the area when it was to be broadcast on the following Saturday morning. We didn’t think much about it afterwards except that we now realized that we were about to become famous radio personalities in the airwaves of Everett, Washington. We watched the second game, which the AquaSox lost again to the Dust Devils 1 to 3, then went on our merry way to the hotel.

The next morning we proceed on our tour of the ballparks of the Pacific Coast League(AAA) and the Northwest League (Short Season A), visiting the Vancouver Canadians and the Tacoma Rainers before proceeding to the main reason for the trip, the wedding, which was held on Orcas Island in Puget Sound in a small hotel right next to  the ferry, which blasted its arrival and departure horn at God-awful times in the early morning. Otherwise, it was a wonderful event. The next morning we were back on our baseball trip, which took us to Oregon and through Washington state.

On the last day of the trip we headed back toward Seattle for our flight that didn’t leave until midnight. We had arrived in town at 6 pm but had no desire to sit in the airport for six hours. What to do? Then Ginny proposed going to the movies, another one of our favorite pastimes. So the new problem was that we were in a town that we hardly knew at all looking for a movie theater. It can generally be acknowledged that even the maps from the American Automobile Association do not list movie theaters—but they do identify malls on the city inserts and we figured, if you can find a mall you can find a movie close by.  So we headed to the closest mall; however, we failed to locate a theater. It had to be the only mall in Washington state not to have a movie theater near by. But then Ginny had another great idea (she’s a smart girl—sometimes).  We could go into the mall to find a public telephone (yes, there were still a few around back then) or at the very least ask someone. And since the task at hand included the possibility of asking someone for directions, the task naturally fell to Ginny. Dan is a man and it goes against his genetic makeup to ask for directions. Instead he parked the car, while Ginny headed into the mall for directions.

Since he needed something to while away the time, Dan fiddled with the car radio trying to find anything but opera or rap, when he heard “the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard about baseball,” then he realized that he was the one speaking! Just at that point, Ginny had emerged from the mall and was walking toward the car.

So there we were, on the radio.  As the interview ended, we looked at each other in amazement that “we” were on the radio. And then Dan began shouting at Ginny that when he was flailing his arms about desperately trying to get her to do something, that it was a good idea to do it! It might just save her life! She really still hasn’t grasped the concept, even after Dan watched her almost get killed in Nashville—yet another story.

Several months after the trip, when we had completely forgotten about the interview, we received a package in the mail. A cassette tape (yes, now an historical artifact) with a very nice note from Katy thanking us again for the interview. It’s with the rest of our stuff, jumbled up in a drawer somewhere. We’ll have to get it out someday soon and play it before our old tape deck goes the way of all technology—to the Salvation Army.

Baseball Travel Guidelines: Make Sure I Have a Room

OK, now that you have your copy of the Baseball America Directory, (or maybe it’s on order), we can talk about the details of planning your family (or without) baseball vacation. Here are the threshed out details that we mentioned in our last post.

1)   Determine approximately when we want to go and how much time we can take.

2)   Decide where we want to go and consult Baseball America Directory for parks in the general geographic area we’ve targeted and dates they’re playing.

We need to discuss both one and two above together, because they are often interchangeable. Our trips usually start as a conversation between us about where we might want to go on our annual baseball trip, how much time we have for a trip, if there is someplace that we have to go to which we can attach a minor road trip, or some reason we can justify taking a special trip someplace, and whether there is someone we want to see (for example, some relative we can mooch off of).  We start our planning almost as soon as we get home from the current trip. We hash out some grandiose ideas and then continue tossing around ideas throughout the fall and winter—always thinking (wishing) we could do some fall and winter baseball. The conversation about where usually comes before when, because, being academics, we’re not always sure if one of us is teaching during the summer months, or if there are plans for family visits, or conferences to attend. So once our summer schedule is solid, then we can finalize our choice of where.

As mentioned above, we sometimes have the opportunity to connect our baseball trips to other trips, be it family- or business-related. Being academics, we attend a number of professional conferences. These conferences vary in location and time every year, some during the school year—October, March, April—or some in the summer. When we know that we will be attending one of these conferences, the first think we check is whether there is baseball close by. Even if it’s visiting a stadium during the off-season.

For instance, the first time we saw the Round Rock stadium, we were driving from Dallas (where we had flown in) to San Antonio for the Conference on College Composition and Communication. It was March, too early for the team to be playing yet. The front office—and most important—team store were open. We stopped…of course, we did. And we shopped. (Ginny wears her last-year’s-model-discounted-drastically Round Rock denim jacket everywhere). After hearing about our enthusiasm for minor league baseball, the people in the front office also graciously gave us a tour of the stadium that was being readied for opening day a few weeks away. Several years later we finally had the chance to actually see a game at this stadium.

3)   Lay out a tentative itinerary based on when teams are playing and a basic logical (or a close approximation to logical) geographic pattern so we aren’t backtracking too much.

The next step is to use the Baseball America Directory to find what teams play in that part of the country, and figure out who will be playing at their home field during the time frame that we will be traveling. Dan starts tracking down schedules in January on websites (getting the website addresses from the Directory). Schedules start coming out in mid-January for a number of the leagues; sometimes you can get tentative schedules for triple A affiliates at the end of the previous season. Check the league websites to see if the teams are still playing and if there are any new teams just starting up. Part of the reason we start this early is to make sure we can get tickets for the new teams, whose games are often all sold out. In the inaugural year for the Lansing Lugnuts, we could only get lawn seats (standing room) for a grassy knoll out at the end of the third base line in left field—and it was a “family-no-beer-drinking zone.”  Likewise, the first year of the Dayton Dragons we were out at the end of the left field, but at least we had seats and Dan could have a beer.

At this point, if you have your firm dates, and flying is required to your chosen region, you might want to book your flights. Considering the ever-changing costs of air travel, the sooner you have your tickets, the better. Of course, you may run into other problems later on, such as we had in the summer of 2011. We finalized our decision in March to make the trip to Texas and Oklahoma because we could get a flight to Dallas much cheaper than other places we wanted to go. However, by the time August rolled around, it turned out to be one of the hottest summers on record for both states. They had already both been ravaged with tornadoes, fires and floods. We had begun to believe that Armageddon had arrived for them. But it wasn’t too exceedingly bad, if you didn’t mind sitting perfectly still at the ball park and sweating through that new souvenir t-shirt you just bought. And it was still in the bag!

4)   Fill in with sites that we would like to see along the way, leaving enough lag time in between for serendipity—that is, those great sites found along the way.

Other sites will depend on your personal interests. Our trips tend to follow our primary interest of baseball and then our secondary interests of American history, women’s issues, writers, food and kitsch. Some examples of baseball related sites we’ve seen are Geneva, New York’s McDonough Park which now hosts a New York Collegiate League team, but was for a number of years home to the Geneva Reds, a New York-Penn Leagueteam whose roster once included Tony Perez and Pete Rose. Likewise, there is Robin Roberts Field in Springfield, Illinois, which was the site of games of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Springfield Sallies.

But life is not all baseball, so we check out the many other sites/activities that an area may offer. Over the years we have been to places such as Graceland, a coon dog cemetery, the place where James Dean was killed, the movie site of Field of Dreams, the grave of Mark Twain, the place where President Grant died, numerous Civil War battlefields, Shaker villages, Dollywood, the grave of Dan’s great, great, great grandfather, and one of our personal favorites, taking the opportunity to renew our wedding vows with Elvis in a Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The AAA Guide to the states is the next most handy item to set up a trip. They give a good overview of some of the places you will be going and will list some of the sites of interest that you may not have known about. Some of the other references that we use include Road Food (interesting road side restaurants), a guide to historic baseball sites, several guidebooks on American kitsch and places of the weird. Besides these, we peruse the guides to Civil War sites, women’s history sites, political history sites, religious history sites, Revolutionary War/War of 1812 sites and then some of our favorite movie/TV sites. (For a list of these references, see the appendices.)

The danger here is in locking yourself too tightly to your itinerary. You want to make sure that you give your family enough options for sites to visit, but not be so rigid that you can’t just bag the original planned visits when you serendipitously stumble across something you all just have to see. Always leaving some time open for those surprises led us to one of our favorite finds: the monument to the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in Riverside, Iowa.

5)   Once the itinerary is somewhat definite, book flights, reserve a car, buy game tickets and book the motel rooms (or contact those family members off of whom we intend to mooch).

Second only to deciding how much time and where to go is finding those places to sleep. You notice we don’t say finding a place “to stay.” Usually, on these trips, with few exceptions—like the three-day Florida trip—we are always on the go: museums, historical sites, food. Even if a game gets rained out, we still ordinarily use the motel room only to sleep and store our stuff. Why always book the motel ahead of time? As we stated earlier, you don’t want to sleep in the car. We once spent over two hours after a night game driving around the back roads of Illinois searching for a motel. We were not happy campers (especially Ginny). Speaking of which, there are many campgrounds that the more adventurous may choose to use. We, on the other hand, believe that the definition of “roughing it” is when the motel TV doesn’t get HBO.

We normally book our flights fairly early on, at least as soon as we have some dates and know for sure that several of the teams will be playing at home. Then make sure that you line up those game tickets—as we said before, you don’t want to go all that way and get shut out. The car reservations are a little different. We’ve often reserved a car at about the same time as the flight, but then Ginny (who does the flight and car bookings) will revisit the rental car sights to check for cheaper deals. Only once have we used the “book a hotel + car for a great deal.” That was our trip to New York City and indeed it was a great deal! You can also check with your own travel clubs—AAA, etc.—or you can use your frequent flyer miles. Our flight to Texas was a “freebie” because of Ginny’s credit card miles. (All those Christmas presents and household appliances can sometimes pay off.)

Mooching, well…visiting family and friends is a great way to save money on these trips. Any time you can combine a family/friend function with a trip, it’s a good deal. Any time you can combine a family/friend function with a trip AND get a free room out of it, you’ve hit a homerun. That’s the case for most people. One problem we have, though, is that we don’t like staying at other people’s homes, not even a Bed and Breakfast. (Ginny loves staying at her parents’ house, but even after 37 years of marriage, it still makes Dan feel a bit uncomfortable.) It really is wonderful to see friends and relatives on our travels. We often just opt to sleep at the motel down the road. So you and your family need to make those decisions for yourselves.

6) Pack lightly, leaving room for all those souvenirs and baseball kitsch, and don’t forget the rain gear.

Since the airlines now like to nickel and dime us to death, charging for every little thing imaginable, it’s a good idea to pack light. Depending on what part of the country you’re going to, you might get away with nothing but shorts and t-shirts. For our trip to Texas and Oklahoma during a record heat wave, we took one nice set of clothes each (for Sunday church) and a few pairs of shorts and enough t-shirts to last half way through the trip. Then we did laundry in the motel (which can be problematic, depending on the reliability of the washers and driers). Before the trip, Ginny even bought a couple of very cheap shirts that could be thrown in the dryer and she wouldn’t care how they came out. As it was, we still had to pay $25 for each of the two bags we checked with the airlines. That was an extra $100 for the trip. You need to make sure you’re prepared for these possible “hidden” costs.

The main reason that we took two bags instead of one is because of the souvenirs. Of course, a trip is not an adventure without the collectibles (or crap—given the “eye of the beholder” and all that). There are the team programs, the giveaways at the gate, the lucky number drawings and game prizes…and that’s just the baseball game take-aways. Don’t forget all the sites you’ll be visiting and the souvenirs, t-shirts, hats, jewelry, books, brochures, CDs, DVDs, just to mention a few of the possible items that will find their way back to your car and into your luggage. We even like to do Christmas shopping while we’re on these trips. Dan has two young pre-school nieces for whom we often pick up shirts from unusual places. So far, they’ve received shirts from the National Bowling Museum, the National Tattoo Museum and the Jello Museum. Their father and grandfather always get quite a chuckle out of our choices. (What can we say—Dan’s family has an unusual sense of humor.) When the girls get a bit older, I’m sure they won’t appreciate being the recipients of such not-quite-understood humor as much as they do now.

And by all means, don’t forget the camera! We own an Olympus SLR that does a great job, but it is bigger and heavier than the compact models that also take lovely photos. Someone will have to carry the camera through the airports and schlep it onto the plane. Think about the extra weight when deciding on a choice through which to preserve those memories.

Finally, it’s a fact of nature that rain happens. Some years we’ve had no rain at all, and others so much rain we thought of going to Home Depot to buy ark materials (what is a “cubit” anyway?). Be prepared. Ginny always carries a white plastic poncho that she bought at the Akron Aeros team shop (guess what the weather was like) because it covers both her and her scorekeeping paraphernalia and does a rather good job of keeping out heavier rain. Dan tends to tough it out, or moves to a place where there’s shelter. If the rain lasts too long and is too hard, Ginny will join him. Yes, being rained on can be unpleasant, but it can also be entertaining watching the grounds crew, or the other fans and how they deal with it. A few times, we have been among a hand-full of people who stuck it out to see the game either finished, or finally called a rainout. Our secret is being prepared for the weather—and a whole lot of patience.

We love baseball and any reason, despite the weather, is always a good excuse to do a minor road trip. A little planning, a good relationship with your traveling companion and the philosophy “Some times you win, sometimes you lose, and some times you get rained out” helps you to enjoy the trip no matter what.

Baseball Travel Planning: Can’t Just Jump in the Car

Over the last 17 years or so, we have been in pursuit of seeing a game in every minor league baseball park in the US and Canada—thus, the title of our website, Minor Road Trip. We are not fanatical about it; we are not those people who spend their entire vacation going from park to park. The most we have ever done in one season is 15 and, hey, we were both on sabbatical that year. In fact, one year we only did three. But on the average we hit about eight or nine new parks a year. Some years, as a bonus treat, we’ve been able to squeeze in a short three-day trip because we had a long weekend. All these trips can be jam-packed with things to do or they can be extremely restful. Over one long weekend, we flew into Orlando, checked into a hotel, saw two Florida State League games within a short driving distance, and spent the rest of the time either sitting by the hotel swimming pool or sleeping. Okay, on the last day before catching our evening flight home we had to do the kitsch: We went to Gatorland to see the Jumping Gatoroo Show and to have our picture taken holding a live baby alligator. But on the whole, this was a very restful trip—except for the part of walking around an entertainment complex where Dan worried he was not the highest thing on the food chain.


You could, as the title states, jump in the car and take off. But our experience has been that you only leave yourself wide open for trouble if you haven’t done some planning ahead of time. Besides, without reading about the areas you’ll pass through, you may miss some of the best sites.

After deciding that the family is going to take the plunge into a baseball adventure, the big questions are how much time do we have, then where in the world are we going? This is generally followed by a series of less critical questions, such as, what are we going to do once we get there, what are we going to do along the way, where are we going to sleep, and whose car are we going to drive? This is then followed by a series of parameters that are placed upon any trip prior to any inkling of planning: “We will have hotel reservations for every night.” “No, I do not want to stop and see the birthplace of Monica Lewinsky.” And finally, “Can we please stay in at least one hotel for longer than one night!?” This last one is always both a request and a demand.

Planning a minor league baseball road trip takes some work—the amount of work depends on what you want out of it and how obsessive-compulsive you are. The simplest amount of planning for this is to have a copy of the Baseball America Directory and a roadmap. If this is your desired level of planning, you may also want to plan on sleeping in your car some, missing a few meals, and having a traveling companion who is on the cranky side. Planning out the logistics of the trip alleviates the anxiety of where you are going to sleep, whether or not you even have tickets for the game and what else you are going to see along the road. However, it may take away some of the spontaneity of doing things you just happen upon as you drive some of the back roads of America. If you plan it well enough, you can have both organization and spontaneity. You will have time to see most all the places and things you wanted to and you will also have time for those strange little sites that aren’t always in the guidebooks.

The way we plan our trips is in a little more detail than just getting the Directory, a map and jumping into the car. Actually, a lot more detail. Ginny has this thing about sleeping in a car. Dan calls it her lack of an adventurous spirit; Ginny calls it common sense. Therefore, our trips are planned out in some detail. Ginny calls the amount of detail that Dan does in planning out our trips a manifestation of his obsessive-compulsive nature. Dan does the in-depth planning because Ginny gets cranky when she doesn’t know where she is going to sleep and if Dan had to really sleep in the car, he would be even crankier than she. So we follow some simple guidelines when we go about planning a trip:

  1. determine approximately when we want to go and how much time we can take;
  2. decide where we want to go and consult the Baseball America Directory for ballparks  in the general geographic area we’ve targeted and dates the teams are playing;
  3. lay out a tentative itinerary based on when teams are playing and a basic logical (or a close approximation to logical) geographic pattern so we aren’t backtracking too much;
  4. fill in with sites that we would like to see along the way, leaving enough lag time in between for serendipity—that is, those great sites found along the way;
  5. once the itinerary is somewhat definite, book flights, reserve a car, buy game tickets and book the motel rooms (or contact those family members off of whom we intend to mooch);
  6. pack lightly, leaving room for all those souvenirs and baseball kitsch and don’t forget the rain gear.

We will explain these steps further later on, but above all, we highly recommend obtaining a yearly copy of the Baseball America Directory, primarily because it lists all the necessary telephone numbers, the directions to the parks, current franchise listings of the major league teams, the affiliated teams, and the independent league teams. It can also give you leads to other things such as college level baseball and a number of places related to baseball. Most importantly, it lists the schedules for the majors, minors and independent league teams. The Baseball America Directory is the single most useful thing to have when planning out a minor road trip. It even beats out a computer and websites for quick references and can be bought online or at major bookstores. In fact, you can put in an early order right now for next year’s edition! We’ll wait…and tell you more about planning in our next post.

How Did We Get Here?

Baseball, the all-American game. Family entertainment at its best.

Alright, so it’s a cliché, and maybe it’s not the only All-American game (other usurpers have tried to claim the title). But to use another clichéd scenario—think of sitting in the bleachers on a warm summer evening, eating that tasty hot dog and slurping that drink (beer for the adults and pop for the youngsters), waiting for the latest homerun king to come to the plate. The sounds, smells and tastes of a baseball park can not be equaled anywhere. And the smaller the park, the more intimate the game. Who could ask for anything better? A whole vacation of ball parks. And what better way to see this country than traveling the backroads of the United States on your quest for more baseball? The adventures your family can have—the alligator farms, the amusement parks, the museums, the national memorials, the water parks, and so much more. Our own quest for minor league baseball began years ago, but we’ve never gotten tired of the traveling or the sightseeing.

Our journey (or journeys) to becoming baseball travelers is a long one. From 1988-1992, we lived just outside Toledo, Ohio. Not an exciting town—the singer John Denver once recalled his experience in Toledo as his having spent a week there one night. But our home was only a mile from the Toledo Mud Hens stadium. At the time, we had no idea how that would influence the rest of our lives.

Ginny was in graduate school working on her PhD and Dan was a newly minted Episcopal priest working at a parish in Maumee (a suburb of Toledo). As the youth group minister, it was Dan’s job to find interesting—a highly subjective term, since he was far from being a “youth” and the “youth” often disagreed with his idea of “interesting”—activities through which the group and he could bond. The stadium was close to the church, was inexpensive and offered the perfect spring/summer/fall activity.

We both had grown up as fans of the Cincinnati Reds. Dan’s mother and grandmother listened or watched all the Reds’ games and Ginny’s father would take his brood of seven children out every evening after dinner to play baseball in the side yard—an expansive five acres surrounding their home. So the Mud Hens were a perfect answer to what to do with the youth group on several Sunday afternoons. Ginny would even accompany them to the games—and she was not much of a joiner when it came to church activities.

Then came 1992: Ginny accepted her first full-time college job in the northern area of the lower peninsula of Michigan, four plus hours from the closest baseball team, the Detroit Tigers. While they were happy to be in a familiar and beloved resort area, there was no baseball, save the local intramural civic teams. Thus, in 1994, when the West Michigan Whitecaps opened a new stadium in Grand Rapids—a mere three hours away—Dan said, “Let’s go” and Ginny agreed. But because of jobs and the distance, they only managed a couple of games a year.

When the Lansing Lugnuts opened their stadium two years later, Ginny suggested a road trip: “Better still, what other teams are within driving range? Let’s choose a team and follow them around the Midwest.“  That proved impractical. But the idea of the road trip stuck. Instead of one team, why not just visit stadiums to see many different teams play? But how do we do that? Believe it or not, in 1996, the Internet did not exist to the extent it does now, and few teams had websites. So, Dan found a copy of the Baseball America Directory at the bookstore and we sat down to lay out a trip—which turned out to be a killer: over 1100 miles in six days.

We traveled from northern Michigan to Iowa, then back through Illinois and Indiana hitting minor league baseball stadiums in each state. In Muscatine, Iowa, we searched for a distant great, great, great grandfather’s gravestone—which stated he was the king of Hanover, Germany—and records of the Linnenberg clan that had moved there in the 1800s. We got to see a stadium, built by the WPA during the Great Depression, that the Mississippi River floods every spring. We got caught in rush-hour traffic outside of Chicago on our way to Rockford, Illinois, almost ending in divorce court. And we stayed in a hotel suite with three rooms and two televisions for the grand price of $75—a treasure, after looking for some place to stay for two hours in the dark of night in rural Illinois. The trip culminated in seeing the Lugnuts’ new stadium then driving home after the game—arriving at 1:30 in the morning. But we were hooked. We loved seeing America, the back roads, the places and peoples that aren’t in the regular tour guides, and many that are.

We have had great fun over the years traveling and learning about our country. And our travels aren’t over. There are about 250 minor league teams, including independent leagues and college leagues. As of Summer, 2012, we had seen 141 minor league parks. However, teams move, new parks are built and leagues fold and begin. We figure we’ll have enough baseball to keep us busy until we die. And if we finally see all the sites of North America—there’re always other countries that have baseball: Italy, Argentina, Australia, just to name a few.

So pack up the car, load up the kids, grab the Baseball America Directory. You’re on your way to seeing the sights of your country. Oh, and don’t forget, some great baseball. And through this blog, we hope to be something of a guide to the ballparks and cultural sites along the way. We’ll also throw in some memoirs to entertain you as we share our experiences with the people and places of America.

Next time, we’ll talk about how all this comes about. Just how do we plan our trips?