Chuck Booth’s GWR Streak (Parks 25-29)
The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!
I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days from April 6th to 28th!
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MLB Park # 25 Day # 20
COL 2 @ PIT 1
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- My stay in Tampa Bay was a nice one the night before(despite having to commandeering a neighboring hotel just to do some laundry at midnight.) I was too fired up to sleep and there was no chance at all I would risk sleeping in on this day. I had known for a while that this was going to be an epic day. Since the fallout of the missed doubleheader for Cleveland and Baltimore was first established on that San Diego flight, I looked forward to this day thoroughly.
The plan was put together the previous week. Once the Cleveland Indians had invited myself and 3 others to their baseball suite, I made some magic fly. Lori Martini flew into Pittsburgh with me via a connector flight in Baltimore on Southwest Airlines. I had not seen Lori since the Boston Red Sox game on Patriots Day. We boarded the flight to Pittsburgh and kept reviewing the plan of the impending doubleheader.
When we landed in Pittsburgh, Ken Lee was waiting for us and we made it PNC Park with plenty of time to park and buy tickets. Lori and I walked the whole concourse and saw all this beautiful park had to offer. Amongst the only few drawbacks n the park, was that the really need to give the place a fresh coat of paint and repair the weather-beaten scoreboard. On the menu for the morning were Buffalo Wings and pizza from Diamond(the pizzeria directly in the left field stands.) The Pepperoni pizza was a pretty good deal in being an 18 inch pie for $21. The Buffalo Wings from Steak and Lube were satisfactory.
The seats we had are one of the better valued price tickets in the Major Leagues. Left Field bleacher tickets for $13 each. It is General Admission seating so there were plenty of seats. Even with the extra 30% added for this being considered a Premium game(don’t get Lori Martini started on this rant-lol) the value was still good. The game was going at an incredible clip. James McDonald was throwing a no-hitter through the first 5 innings. He was the same guy who broke up Matt Cain‘s potential perfect game the week before. During the entire streak, I had a pitcher do this about 12 out of the 30 games I witnessed. It was not to be. Colorado tied the game up in the 8th inning to throw a quick wrench into our plans.
I can explain the adrenalin phenomenon to people as much as I like for these doubleheader scenarios, unless it actually comes to fruition during the game, then people just don’t have a clue. Ken Lee was already waiting in the parking spot just across the street waiting for Lori and I to come sprinting out once the game was over. Lori and I started pacing near the home plate exits. It was all too familiar for me. Without any doubt, an extra inning game with a lengthy time period would be devastating. We were to be special guests of the Cleveland Indians and I didn’t want that to be compromised in any fashion.
While Ken and Lori could have gone into the game at Progressive after the 1st pitch was thrown, I might have had to listen to it in the car. This also meant only tying the record. Stressful situations were playing out in my mind. Lori was just as stressed as me, that is why we never noticed that Colorado actually took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th. We cheered for the visitors so vehemently that we drew the ire of some of the Pittsburgh fans. We bolted out of there when the last pitch was thrown. We were on easy street to make 1st pitch.
MLB Park # 26 Day # 20
KC 8 @ CLE 2
If ever there was a game on the field that secondary to what was going on in the park, it was this game. Ken Lee, Lori Martini and I headed up to the Indians Social Suite to meet up with Anne Keegan. It was nice to put a face to a name that we had been communicating with. Within 2 minutes of meeting her, we can see why everyone that has ever met her completely raves about her attitude. She was so accommodating as a host. Anne talked with each of us individually in order to have our stories down straight. She had said that there would be a special guest coming into the suite soon after the game started. After we all ate in the Press Room next door, (which was an incredible assortment of food) the game started. There were about 7 other guests in the suite with us. The Indians pride themselves on this new social media suite. The place is reserved for special fans that are contributing to the game in a positive manner. They encourage using Facebook and Twitter in the suite and to follow some of the Cleveland Indians players and front office. In my opinion, all of the MLB teams should adopt the blue print set forth by this forward thinking organization. About 20 minutes after the game started in walked the guest. It took me about 2 seconds flat to realize that it was Indians team president Mark Shapiro.
The man could not have been any cooler. Mark knew my record streak, all about the games and the days and was genuine in wishing me the best to beat the record. I was in awe of how down to earth he was. I stood there engaged in conversation for a lengthy one on one chat with former General Manager. Soon I introduced Mr. Shapiro to Lori Martini and watched as he further demonstrated all his insights on her resume as a ballpark chaser. Right in the social media suite was now Miss Martini’s bobblehead doll from her short film ‘Caught’. Lori had already sent a press kit to all Major League Baseball teams and their affiliates at the end of March of who her and I were. That I was doing the streak this year and Lori is going for the women’s record in 2013. The Indians soon made the connection when we started emailing who was going to be with me for the trip. Not only did we get our picture taken with Mark Shapiro, we all talked to him for an inning. To this date the Team President has retweeted several of my posts and I am thankful each time. I am hoping to meet Mark Shapiro again one day and talk more baseball and about all of the parks.
After Mr. Shapiro left, Matthew Van Wormer interviewed Lori and I from “DidtheTribeWinLastNight.com.” It was an interview that talked about the new term of ‘ballpark chasers’ and what our trips all mean in the grand scheme of things. Lori was able to explain that this kind of trip should be made into a webseries on TV-and that we are just the people to do it next year. You can read the article here. The night was still not over. The Cleveland Indians also had Lori and I do a video interview that will be displayed on their website shortly. By the time this all ended the game was becoming a runaway for the Kansas City Royals over the Cleveland Indians. The Final score of 8-2 flattered the Indians. Ken Lee, Lori Martini and I left this facility having a higher regard for the ball club and its PR Department. This new-found information propels the Park into the top 15 of all MLB Parks now. If this is the kind of staff that are running the whole park then the team just needs to be competitive again before all of the people come back. The fans all need to know how much this staff cares about them, I would work for these people in a heartbeat and I am a Yankees fan! There was a minor scare at Cleveland airport that I will talk about in the book version of the trip. I do not want to take any positivity away from this exceptional night at the park.
MLB Park # 27 Day # 21
SF 6 @ CIN 5
Great American Ball Park
As the picture can show you I was tired. The previous night in Cleveland had been such an upper. By the time Ken Lee and I left the Cleveland area it was well after 5:30 AM in the morning. We hauled down the highways of 71-75 and 70 to arrive at the Great American Ballpark for 10:30 AM. We were both tired and had a tough time getting geared up for this game. Technically, we were not seeing the game together as Ken drove onwards to Chicago right away. I needed him to pick me up from the ORD Airport. Initially I was supposed to head up to the CVG Airport for a rental car but it was not going to work out due to weird circumstances (yet another post-mortem deal that will be explained in a book somewhere.)
In a trip that has all happened for a reason, I was let out of the car right in front of the cab area after the game. I asked a couple of vendors if the area where the cabs all sit and they replied ‘yes.’ I needed a fast getaway. At the very least, I was without a bunch of luggage and traveling light. The game featured Ryan Vogelsong vs Homer Bailey for the Reds. I was watching the entire festivities from the 3rd base concourse. I met up with a couple of locals. They used me as a person to get a secondary beer since I don’t drink. Apparently the new rule around baseball is that your are only allowed to get one drink per id in the parks. This must have been mandated out of New York.
I really like the park at the Great American Ball Park. The Ohio River is an incredible backdrop. This is the 1st franchise ever in MLB. Absent from the park is #14 Pete Rose, the lifetime ban also includes no mention of the player in the park and his number is not retired on the wall. If you go to the Cincinnati Hall of Fame across the street you will see much homage to the ‘Big Red Machine.’ Highlighted by the museum are 4192 baseballs cascading throughout the 5 stories of the place. These baseballs are not all of the baseballs he hit naturally, it is simply to show you how many hits that he punched out in a marvelous career. The Cincinnati fans are ready for a winner and the park exemplifies this. With Albert Pujols moving to the American League, this should even out the playing field for the Reds.
Fast forward to the top of the ninth, the Giants were trailing 5-3 on homers by Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce. Homer Bailey had come up with a quality start for the Reds scattering 3 runs. The Giants worked the 1st two batters on baseball and made me panic. At worst though I have an advantage. As long as the visitors take the lead outright or lose when trailing then I am okay. The only result that cuts like a knife is an outright. Angel Pagan had me cheering with a 3 run home run to take the lead 6-5. How quickly the pendulum can swing, I was now cheering for the SF Giants to close the game out with their closer. The game was nearing the 3 hour mark. I am so happy that the Reds schedule their day matinée’s at 12:35 PM. Realistically, I would be okay until the 4 PM area. It should only have been around a 20 minute ride to the airport. I never was in doubt the game would end quick. I raced out to the cab 19 seconds after the game ended. Ken Lee told me he was in gridlock traffic 100 miles out of Chicago. This party was just started, I would have to worry about everything in Chicago.
MLB Park # 28 Day # 21
BOS 10 @ CWS 3
US Cellular Field
The picture says it all. I made 1st pitch of Game #28. It would be the last doubleheader of the trip and I executed on 7 out of the 9 days. In the four attempts all time, I closed out 25 doubleheader opportunities with 19 converted doubleheaders or 76%, 7 out of the 9 doubleheaders this year is 77.7% conversion rate, so it was within the average numbers. Ken Lee gets full credit for waiting out a huge car-transportation truck fire in which 10 luxury cars blew up in a fire wreaking havoc on traffic. Ken made it to ORD by 5:45. We were still looking to be in some trouble. At 26 miles out from the yard, we had log-jammed traffic. Enter GPS Navigation System. Ken bought a brand new GPS system in Minnesota the week before. It served us well traveling in and out of the rural areas. When we were fully back onto highway 90/94 again Ken and I decided to gun for it. GPS wanted to steer us out by the rural area gain. We didn’t listen to her and made it to the park with 20 minutes to spare.
It was so cold in the game I had a tough time keeping warm. US Cellular Field is going to plummet down the rankings of the parks. Strike 1: Tickets at their facility are $25 at the cheapest, which is the same as the price of parking. Strike 2: You are pigeon-holed into your designated ticket area, meaning if you want to see all of the park you must buy a field level ticket for the price of about $50. Strike 3: for Us Cellular Field is that the warmest place during a cold night is the friggin mens washroom. How about hot zones in the concourses fellas! Your park goes in to the bottom third of the league. The game was a snoozefest and the yada, yada yada, the Red Sox won. At least Ken Lee was happy because he is a big fan.
MLB Park # 29 Day # 22
MIL 1 @ STL 13
Nobody was watching the forecast more in the month of April than me. Ken Lee and I had stayed at a cheap motel in Monee IL after the successful doubleheader attempts two days in a row. Halfway into the drive to Cincinnati the day before Lori Martini called me to tell me that she had my driver’s license because the Best Western we all stayed in Cleveland, had failed to return it to me when checking in or out. I know I should have been more careful. Thank goodness that Lori checked out 4 hours later than Ken and me. I was able to organize a one-way rental for Lori from Cleveland to LGA at National Car Rental. She got to drive a DODGE CHARGER all the way back to New York City for $10. Ken and I were still in our rental car that we both chipped in for from ORD. Now I am telling everyone this as to show what we were up against in the next 29-32 hours here.
The Game at Busch looked like weather was going to play a factor. Ken Lee drove the 5 hours to St. Louis from Monee IL. The next days drive was going to be 14 hours from St. Louis to Baltimore. Ken would try to get 2 hours of sleep before the game. Ken and I arrived at Caleco’s downtown at 4 PM. Ken was more nervous about the weather than even me. I honestly try not to worry about anything unless it is happening right in the timeline of the game. At one point we were discussing all plausible scenario in the event of a rain out. Ken and I ate our lunch and then found a great parking spot right next to the gate we were walking into. Ken was battling fatigue. I too usually run into a few walls after about 8-10 on the road. Ken was experiencing this. He did not need to see every out like me so I told him to pick up his 4 1/2 innings before retreating to the car. Ken texted me I may have to do some driving. I agreed to do this before so I was cool with it. Actually having 7 hours of straight sleep the previous night boded well for me.
The sun prevailed before I entered Busch and the threat of rain was non-existent. I really like the St. Louis Cardinals this year even with out Albert Pujols. Yadier Molina is one of the best hitting catchers, David Freeze is one of the better hitters in the NL if he can stay healthy at all, Matt Holiday is a solid hitter. You add the usual cast of characters with solid pitching and you will see these guys compete for the NL Central crown this year. The Milwaukee Brewers replaced Prince Fielder‘s contract with the signing Aramis Ramirez for third base. The problem is that Ramirez only seems to hit in the second half. A couple of players like Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan had productive and timely hitting seasons last year. I am not sure Nyjer Morgan will have an average near.300 and with less protection, Corey Hart may not duplicate his strong offensive out put. Hart to his credit, has started out with decently. The Brewers had no fight in this game as they lost 13-1. I only had one game left to see. I took the driver’s side door and we left the city of St. Louis. All that stood in the way of the record was some weather and a 14 hour drive.
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here.To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book please click here ***
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Posted on May 4, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged albert pujols, Anne Keegan, aramis ramirez, baltimore, baltimore orioles, baseball, Best Western, bob devries, boston, boston red sox, brewers, busch stadium, Caleco`s, cardinals, chicago, Chuck Booth, Cleveland, Cleveland Airport, cleveland indians, colorado rockies, corey hart, didthetribewinlastnight.com, facebook, fenway park, fielder, great american ballpark, homer bailey, james mcdonald, ken lee, Lori Martini, Mark Shapiro, matt cain, Matthew Van Wormer, mlb, Monee IL, National Car Rental, New York City, nyjer morgan, orioles, pittsburgh, pittsburgh pirates, pnc park, prince fielder, progressive field, rockies, ryan vogelsong, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, twitter, us cellular field, white sox, yadier molina. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.