Baseball Book Review: The Fastest 30 Ballgames

Tuesday September 27, 2011

 

THE FASTEST 30 BALLGAMES – A BALLPARK CHASERS WORLD RECORD STORY; BY:  DOUGLAS ‘CHUCK’ BOOTH, CRAIG B. LANDGREN & KENNETH A. LEE

(AuthorHouse:  2011)

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  As you have probably guessed from my previous reviews, I have a great love for baseball books.  I have read hundreds of them over the years and will read hundreds more before my time is done.  As baseball seasons have gone by, it seems that the market has become more and more saturated with baseball reading material.  With so many options and so little spare time, many baseball readers have a difficult time choosing which books to add to their collections.  I can completely relate to this dilemma.  Speaking from experience, when I select my next baseball book- I always look for an original and fresh concept.  I look to learn, laugh and get lost in time.  Let’s face it: with our hectic schedules, reading is supposed to be our time to unwind, relax and have an escape.  I recently uncovered a baseball book that provided all of the above and more.  A book that will become a must-own for every serious baseball fan.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” is the title and is the subject of today’s book review.

Every baseball fan that I know has either just come back from a baseball trip, is going on a baseball trip or is planning to one day take a baseball trip.  The bottom line is that baseball fans love their baseball outings.  Fans from all corners are discussing as we speak their dream of visiting Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field…and so on.  We read about all of the major league stadiums.  We listen to different teams play on the radio and watch their games on television.  The next logical step is to visit those same parks in person.  For most, if not all baseball fans, the dream of visiting new major league parks represents the ultimate dream vacation.  In his book, The Fastest 30 Ballgames, author Doug Booth takes his readers through his tour of every single MLB stadium.  What fans dream of experiencing, Booth has lived it.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” provides readers with a journey through a baseball odyssey that has never been seen before.  We get to live vicariously through Doug Booth.  If a great book is to be an escape for its readers, then this book is just that.  A really great book.  When you finally complete this book, you will not only feel like you know every baseball park, but you will also have the sense of having been there.  I got completely lost in the world of Doug Booth and the wonderful universe that is baseball.

I have never read a baseball book that is as expansive as “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”.  This book works on so many levels.  The first part walks us through Doug Booth’s attempts to set the Guinness World Record of watching games at all 30 major league parks in the fewest amount of days.  Think baseball’s version of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” meets “The Amazing Race”.  Sometimes an exercise in frustration, while other times an exhilarating ride.  Booth does it all and sees it all, in setting out to fulfil his goal.  What I most enjoyed about Booth’s writing style is his honesty, passion and heart.  To me, the first part of  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” is a raw diary of the life of Doug Booth.  From picking his mode of transportation, tickets, accommodations and route to each city and ballpark, Booth recounts in great detail his life and experiences in hopping from one baseball park to another.  Booth does not hold back from sharing the personal details of his life, which make his legend and tale that much more real and rewarding to read.  I felt that I was with Booth every step of the way.  Booth’s use of imagery was so vivid that I could literally picture his words in my mind, creating a sense that I was along for the ride.  A sign of a talented author and one that believes in his work.

Did Doug Booth set the world record you ask?  Yes he did.  After narrating in detail his near record-setting attempt in 2008, Booth went on to set the Guinness record the following year by watching baseball games in all 30 parks in only 24 days.  If you do the math and take a look at a map, that is a very impressive feat.  With weather, traffic, plane delays and countless other factors always lurking, Booth’s feat is mind-blowing.  This book is worth reading just to find out how he was able to accomplish such an impossible feat.  The reality is that very few of us, if any, will ever attempt what Doug Booth accomplished.  When I completed “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”, I have to admit though that I felt the urge to continue my own baseball journeys.  I started to calculate in my head all the baseball parks that I had already visited in my lifetime, and the ones that I still had left on my list.  I started to visualize geographically where each stadium was located and how many I could visit per trip.  From there, I calculated the number of trips and period of time I realistically thought it would take to complete the mission.  As I was doing this, I realized that I was beginning to channel Doug Booth.  I had the itch… and the only known cure was ordering tickets and getting on the road.  Doug Booth had inspired me.  I would assume that this was one of Booth’s goals in writing this book.  By stirring the baseball excitement within me, I appreciated Booth’s own baseball travels and wanted to further trips of my own.  Not only did I enjoy the book as a relaxing escape, but I was inspired and motivated.  Another sign of a successful writer.

It is one thing to say that a person wants to achieve a goal.  It is another thing to actually do it.  Armed with my the drive to see every major league park, part 2 of the book lays out how to make it happen.  Co-author Craig Landgren prepared a detailed listing and ranking of all 30 MLB parks.  From where to park, sit, buy tickets, food, best months of the year to attend, nearest attractions and closest stadiums, Landgren provides the perfect “AAA” type guide to visiting baseball stadiums.  A book within a book, Landgren provides the ideal cheat sheet for every stadium in the “Ballpark Chaser Guides” section, as it is referred to in the book.  For those that are interested (and if you are a baseball fan, you will be), be sure to visit Landgren’s site:  http://Ballparkchasers.com.    Ballpark Chasers is an on-line community of baseball die-hard fans, sharing information, stories and pictures on baseball travelling.  For “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”, Landgren lays out beautifully the information and images of all 30 MLB parks.  In essence, Booth sets you up by inspiring you to follow his baseball trips, while Landgren teaches you how to make it happen.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” is part autobiography and part baseball travel guide.  But fully 100% baseball.  Just the way we like it.

The last part of the book is real life stories of “Ballpark Chasers”, real people like you and I, telling the story of their stadium trips.  Reading each of their stories, I started to think and plot in my head what story I would be telling one day on the Ballpark Chasers website.  I could identify with all of the individuals, as they were the same as me.  Baseball fans who loved the sport passionately and enjoying watching the games immensely.  I could identify with each of these Chasers and felt that I could one day be one of them.  That at the end of the day was likely the reason for including their tales.  Now I was inspired by Booth, had the guide to travel from Landgren and the reinforcement from other Chasers that my planned travels could one day come true.  Like Booth, it was extremely enjoyable to read each and every one of these baseball tales.  This part added to the authenticity of the book that its authors strived towards.  I was glad to read all of the Chasers’ tales and look forward to one day writing a baseball travel story of my own.

I have a deep dark secret I need to share.  Most baseball books take me several days to complete.  With professional and family commitments, I will usually take 1-2 weeks to complete a book.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” took me several weeks to complete.  This was the longest amount of time I have ever taken to complete a baseball book.  This is a compliment though to how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” travelled with me everywhere this summer.  From my bedside, to doctor’s offices, the cottage and even my trip to Cooperstown, it followed me each and every step of the way.  When I picked this book up, I could literally not put it down.  I found myself going back to certain chapters and sections, reading and re-reading certain portions.  When I was watching ballgames on television, I would pull out the book and compare its descriptions to what was seeing before me in real-time.  It takes a lot to get me excited and gushing.  Booth and his co-authors were able to accomplish that in their baseball masterpiece.

With the playoffs around the corner, the MLB 2012 schedule was recently released this month.  Perfect timing to pick up “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and start planning your next baseball trip.  After reading all the tips and insights into each major league city and park, I would not dare to plan a meal, hotel reservation or purchase ball tickets without consulting this book.  The book is an enjoyable read and provides hours of fantastic baseball tales.  But at the end of the day it is not just a storybook, it is also a key reference tool.  With so much baseball information and knowledge available in this book, I am certainly glad that I read it.  If you are a seasoned veteran or someone just introduced to the game:  do yourself a favour and pick this book up.  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” will be one of the most enjoyable baseball experiences that you ever experience.  Until you get to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums yourself one day!

 

**The photographs in today’s feature are courtesy of Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth**

 

*** To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com***

 

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Posted on September 27, 2011, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Very good piece…never read the book, but plan on doing so very soon.

    • Thank you for the feedback. Definitely check out The Fastest 30. The review speaks for itself but I can definitely tell you that it became one of my favorite baseball books of all time. It will be a book that follows me for many years on my future baseball trips.

  2. Thanks Jonathon ~ I always look forward to your reviews. It’s obvious they’re not canned and you put a lot of thought into them. This one’s now on my “to do” list and also my blog!

    • Thank you Ronni. I appreciate your feedback very much. A great deal of love goes into each book review that I do. There is a time commitment to reading baseball books and with so many on the market, it is important for me to pick ones that I will most enjoy and learn from- but on the same token, bring something to our readers. The Fastest 30 was one of my best baseball reads of all time. Definitely check it out, you won’t be dissapointed. Thank you as well for the link, much appreciated!

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