Confessions of a Ball Park Chaser
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- My name is Chuck Booth, and I am a baseball addict! I can try therapy all I want to, the addiction is too strong to ignore. It all started when I was an infant. My mom wheeled me in my stroller to watch my dad play windmill fastball tournaments on the weekends. She said that I watched intently and was quiet the whole time. Then I grew to a preschool kid and would play on both of my older brother’s baseball teams in addition to my own team. When I turned 9 years old, my dad was the Umpire In Chief for our town’s local Little League Baseball Association. As the top umpire, he proposed that they should build a concession stand at the main little league parks, then use the profits to pay kids to be umpires themselves. So I became a certified little league umpire by studying the rulebook for days and passing the test.
Looking back now it is easy to see why my knees gave me trouble in my teen years. I caught 50-60 games in Little League and would umpire the same amount of games behind the plate. I always believed it helped my hand-eye coordination to see as many pitches as possible. At age 12, we also had a Baseball camp at our Church every year that a group called UPI (Unlimited Potential Inc– http://upi.org/html/MinistryLinks.html ) ran. These fine gentlemen travel all around the world even to this day, spreading the game of baseball through Christianity. I was taught the game by Former League baseball players such as : Mike Davis (the guy on base when Kirk Gibson hit the 1988 World Series Game 1 homer) and Don Gordon, who played briefly with the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians as a pitcher in the late eighties. Along with these guys, I had many hitting and fielding coaches from NCAA University like Johnny Hunton (former coach of the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Virginia) and Grace College hitting coach Glenn Johnson, that would help me become a top recruit for baseball universities in the USA.
In 1991, I played on an All-Star team and caught for future Canadian Major League Pitcher Chris Reitsma. Being a local baseball team in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, we were beating All-Star American travel teams. Life was pretty good. In 1992, I played another year of high school football and suffered a devastating knee injury that was misdiagnosed as a knee sprain. It ended up being a partially broken Patella and I had caught for the full year to worsen the situation. I also suffered multiple concussions during that football season and added another playing baseball. My catching days were now over. Half the way through the next baseball year, I had converted to a 1st baseman. At 5 foot 10 at the age of 16, I thought I would grow a little more before I went off to University. I never grew another inch until age 20. In 1993, I wrote S.A.T.’s in the States to qualify for scholarships. I had an offer to try out for the NCAA Division 1 Liberty Flames. I would have been competing against Sid Bream’s kid Sheldon. I could really hit and thought I had a chance to crack the squad. More headaches persisted from the concussions and continuing knee problems soon followed. Later that year, I was in a home invasion at the wrong time and took one more brutal concussion as a result. My baseball playing days were over due to post-concussion symptoms.
A decade later in 2004 and I still had not played baseball since. Sure I would go out a couple of times a year to hit baseballs, but I was soured on life and always thought what could have been? Concussions when multiplied, never let you play sports with as much bounce ever again. I still can’t play physically exerting sports without seeing cobwebs. I only pray that a player like Justin Morneau can recover from similar symptoms. That spring I was driving home and listening to a radio show, when I heard a man named Jim Maclaren (http://www.jimmaclaren.com/ being interviewed on the ‘Jim Rome Show.’ This man was a quadriplegic motivational speaker. It took him forever each day to do menial tasks that it takes other people mere minutes yet he was happy because he understood what meant most to him in his life. Despite his hardships, he was at peace with himself and his surroundings. I pulled over to the side of the road I was on and was ashamed at my life’s vision for over a decade. While I still followed baseball, I had forsaken myself from ever attending games live because it was too painful for me to watch.
I made a life commitment right then and there, to challenge my mental and physical limits from that day forward. Thus, I became a ballpark chaser. Soon, my life changed forever when I entered into a few Major League Parks. My childhood memories flooded into my realm of living within the moment. I was back where I belonged! Sure I wasn’t right on the field, but I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. A few years into my baseball park chasing I was within reach of visiting all 30 MLB Parks. That is when I decided to really push myself at this craft.
From 2008-2012, I have worked every waking second of my life towards the game of baseball. When I set foot in Orange County on Saturday, April.7th, it will mark the 4th time in as many years, that I will attempt to set the World Record for “Fastest to see all 30 MLB Parks in the least amount of days.” I am already the official World Record holder with a 30 games in 24 days streak in 2009, but this quest is about continuing to test my mental and physical fortitude. I am living my new dream. Thanks to http://www.ballparkchasers.com , I realized I am not alone in my passion for watching baseball. Living on the West Coast presents itself even more of a challenge to watch as many games at MLB Parks per season so we must try creative ways to save time and money.
Each year, the bar seems to go up higher for people visiting all 30 MLB Parks. This year, along with me, there is: RJ Breisacher, http://baseballdreamin.blogspot.ca/ . RJ is an US Army veteran that is raising awareness for Army Veterans across America by visiting all 30 MLB Parks in a 71 day journey. We have Scott Brock, who plans to take an entire summer to spend time with his son and visit all 30 MLB Parks in 90 Days. http://scottbrock.com/. Then there is my co-author Kenneth A. Lee, who is attending 7-10 games with me before carrying on his own trip to see all 30 MLB parks by the end of August this year. Follow his journey at http://www.seeall30.com/. Perhaps the most impressive trip, (even trumpeting my journey should I break the record again), is Reggie Deal, a blind baseball fan who is attempting to be live at a game for all 30 MLB Parks in 30 calendar days. An absolutely incredible testament to a man’s drive to pursue his dream. Reggie Deal is paving the way by showing us how it is done. (Not only this, I respect him for this next part as I have done this before myself), he purchased every single game ticket and will pay his own way in every other travel expense while others persisted on trying to help him. To Reggie, this is part of his goal. He wants to say that he did this journey all on his own. Please follow his journey on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/BlindBaseballTraveler30ParksIn30Days. I also have plans in the works with Lori Martini to visit all 30 MLB Parks again next year in helping her establish the women’s Guinness Book of World Record.
I understand that trips of these magnitude can not be done by everyone wishing to do such travel. I have geared my lifestyle in order to do this. It also takes huge sacrifices in other aspects of life. No doubt that the lifestyle I have chosen is hard. I have probably knocked years off of my life by over extending my physical being, yet I believe in my motto. All of us love baseball on some level. If going to baseball games live is something you love to do, you should try to see as many of these parks as you can within your means of time and money. I know in today’s world, it grows tougher every year to pay for the escalated prices for anything in the travel sector. Just know that there are many experts that can help save your money if you do some quick research online. Let the people who eat, live and breathe this life help guide you. Websites like BallparkChasers.com is the best for information sharing. For all the 30 MLB Parks Chaser Guides over there click here .
During my trip, I will savor every minute of being at the MLB Ball Parks. I will take a second to realize how lucky I am as a human being. Not just being able to do a trip like this again, but realizing what I love most in this world and working as hard as I have to put myself in the position. Some people call us ballpark chasers crazy, some people think that putting so much money, time, effort and savings is not worth the net return. To this I say. “This is our dream and not yours!” Like I said, my name is Chuck Booth and I am addicted to baseball! New therapy sessions are on this website every Monday and Friday, join us then for free, you may have to supply your own coffee though.
*** 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 20 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 20 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 April 2, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged baseball dreamin, blue jays, Chris Reitsma, Chuck Booth, Don Gordon, Fastest 30 Ball Games, indians, jim maclaren, Johnny Hunton, Kenneth A. Lee, kirk gibson, Liberty University, Lori Martini, Mike Davis, Reggie Deal, RJ Breisacher, scott brock, Sheldon Bream, Sid Bream, twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.