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Baseball Book Review: My Ballpark Summer: What Taking Myself Out To The Ballgame Taught Me – By Alicia Barnhart

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Chuck Booth (Lead Analyst/Website Owner): 

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I don’t read many baseball books, heck, I have written more books in the last 6 years (3), than I have actually read (2).  This book I finished awhile back and is subject of today’s Book Review.

The book is called “My Ball Park Summer: What Taking Myself Out To The Ballgame Taught Me.”  It is authored by Alicia Barnhart.  You can follow her brilliant blog at http://www.ballparksonabudget.com

I first met Alicia online earlier this year and was impressed at her knowledge of the baseball parks.  After a few brief discussions, and following her on twitter , I realized she ventured to all 30 MLB Parks during the summer of 2012.  Coincidentally, this is the same year I broke my own record for ‘attending all 30 MLB Parks” in 23 days.

Miss Barnhart is among a small percentage of ballpark chasers that have actually seen all 30 parks in one year, and she is the only woman that I have ever seen to do them all by herself in one baseball campaign.

Why I was drawn to buying her book, is that I wrote a book “The Fastest Thirty Ballgames”  in chronicling my previous record trips (2008 and 2009) for 30 MLB Park tours in 2011.

Again, Alicia is part of a small percentage of people that have compiled a book based on her baseball journey to all of the baseball stadiums.

I purchased the E-Book format from Amazon (In the Kindle Reader).  The cost was $3, which itself lends to her motto of “Ballparks On A Budget”, and I started to read about her baseball quest.  It was such an intriguing read, I never finished reading it until I ran out of pages on my computer screen.

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The story started with her feeling at a crossroads for her job, and that she began planning baseball park visits as a way to clear her head and enjoy life while waiting.

Immediately I liked the way Alicia weaved this tale.  She speaks from the heart and with complete and total honesty.  This is a massively underrated characteristic of a talented author.  She was simply stating “I am bringing you to look at what I think, and you can choose to join me in the journey, or leave right now”.  I kept reading at that point.

Alicia was able to convey her emotions and feelings towards attending each of the 30 MLB Parks from April of the year 2012, all the way to her last game later in the summer of that campaign.

Each park came with detailed plans of how she planned to visit, how it was interwoven in her personal life in Columbus, Ohio, and the people she interacted with along the way.  Mixed into the context, was her uncertainty on her professional career.

Writing a timeline book like this  is the best way to go about the strategy from a 1st person narrative.

Having gone to all of the cities several different times, I shared a lot of the same sentiments as Alicia did….  But one thing that was definitely a lot different, was that she was explaining her accounts of every city and park from a female’s vantage point.

It is tough enough to travel around North America for anyone, yet alone an attractive lady who was making the trek on her own.

The storytelling spoke of many times that certain things scared her on the road.  It takes a lot of guts to write a memoirs about things in this world that frighten you and in any aspect of your life.

After the 1st few hours of reading, I was completely impressed at the grammar, and depiction of the events that transpired for Alicia in 2012.  She then stated that she wasn’t sure about writing a book, the very one I was reading.

I liked a lot of elements of how Alicia motivated her life by going to the ballparks.  How her family/some friends thought she was crazy for taking on a task of this magnitude in one summer, and how they ultimately all came around when they saw her fire towards her ballparks quest.

I found myself rooting for her to keep going at all costs, and wasn’t disappointed to see that she followed through on her goal.  It was both inspirational, and reminded me that the greatest game on earth is still baseball.

Among many of awesome things in this book, are the descriptions of the 30 different parks.  There were many pages and words devoted to giving the reader a feel for each of the venues in appearance, what to look for, the atmosphere, where to sit, what the fan interaction was, and of course the sounds of the game as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed Alicia’s game recaps for each of the participating clubs too.  I read and write articles constantly that talk way too much about stats or all player performances.  While she does divulge who wins and who were the key performers were, she doesn’t hammer the fact down with too many numbers..  It was a nice change of pace for me.

Sprinkled throughout the entire book were great ways to save money on attending baseball games.  Seriously, I am going to need to a buy a hard copy of the book to highlight some of the tips that were listed.

Again, living in this kind of space for the last half-dozen years, Alicia was able to come up with several different things I have never seen before.  I have since become an avid reader of her blog. Showing you that you can always learn something new by listening/reading others.

Going to baseball parks live is still an incredible amount of joy for lots of people.  Planning to go to all 30 MLB Parks is no easy task at all.  To do it one one summer takes a huge amount of time planning, geography, personal discipline, budget sense, travel acumen and lastly cash.  This author spared no stone left unturned to tell you how she went about going to all of these 30 cathedrals – and the ups and downs for her mentally and physically.

I also like the fact that Alicia is grateful for her chance to see all of the parks in one year like that.  Believe me, this is no small achievement.  Traveling across the USA, and Toronto, by planes, trains and automobiles, and any other form of transport is no picnic at all.  Doing a trip like this is one of the biggest rollercoaster rides for one’s psychology.

Much like baseball is a very humbling game, when you travel, you are at the mercy of the weather, the airport, the vehicles, other people, time and many other obstacles not foreseen.  All of these factors were not lost on Alicia, and she was able to portray how she overcame them.

Alicia (Left) with her sister Alex Right) at Yankee Stadium.

Alicia (Left) with her sister Alex (Right) at Yankee Stadium.

Many of her friends and family were incorporated into this story, and Alicia gave them full kudos for their support.  It joined the list of great ways that she was able to entail her life’s events in the time-frame of the story .

I like that Alicia was willing to risk falling short of her dreams to be different.  That she used that motivation and adrenaline that she was able to gain from attending the ballparks, and refocused her own goals and dreams in her personal life to better herself. That she came back from her journey with a new found sense of self pride, and that people surrounding her saw the changes from within.

That chasing one’s dreams gives you the ability to turn on a hyper-awareness to the rest of your world.  Alicia used the right message in this story to explain this phenomenon.

As the dream grew, and she began documenting the story online, I am not surprised that others were drawn to her passion for her goal – and that she skyrocketed her way onto mlb.com’s top 100 Fan Blogs.  The baseball community is alive and well for this kind of exuberance towards the game, and when someone else feels the same way – it is gravitating.

I believe the sky is the limit for Alicia in going forward.  She is a talented author, who is genuine,  which is the perfect mix for the kind of writing she is doing.

The category/angle she is talking about (ballpark road-trips/budgeted travel,) is an exponentially growing one each year, and a lot of people will go to her work with a sense of respect – after being a pioneer in the ballpark chasing world.

I also think Alicia is a perfect role model for young women baseball fans to look up to.  Having said that, this book is for everyone of age or gender, and the simplicity of which the odyssey was presented, lends itself to be read by anyone from  aged 10 – 110.

One more note after reading this story,…I was motivated to test myself for my ballpark chasing endurance once again, and wrote my blog on how I am attending a game for all days of the 2015 calendar.  Something that has never been done across all 30 MLB Parks like this.

Buy the E-Book and purchase a hard copy for your book collection –  The tips on travel and going to the yard will be paid by many multiples!  Also follow her on twitter , and subscribe to her blog www.ballparksonabudget.com – It is worth your time and effort.

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at https://mlbreports.com/183in2015/229sked2015/

Posted on November 12, 2014, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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