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The Modern-Day Baseball Doubleheader

Friday January 27, 2012


Doug Booth-  Baseball Writer:  Gone are the days when baseball teams deliberately schedule two games in one stadium like teams used to do in past generations.  If there is not a postponed game for the duration of your team’s schedule, you will not even have this occurrence.   I am here to tell that modern-day traveling has opened up possibilities for two games in one day for separate cities like never before. For the extreme ballpark chasers, nothing is more exciting for a baseball fan when Major League Baseball posts the new season’s calendar.  Usually the brass does this in mid-September.  Across the world, ballpark goers mark their favorite teams mapped out schedule.  A lot of fans check off what new or old baseball parks they want to visit in the next season.  Plans formulate with a heavy thought to their own planned vacation time.  For the most hard-core baseball fan, their whole lives revolve around this process. Posting the schedule mind you, is only part one of the process.

The baseball teams that are the smartest, post the starting times of the games as soon as possible, while some of the teams hold off releasing this information based for a multitude of reasons.  There are a few baseball venues that are multi-purpose, or that factor in some big revenue streams that may affect the stadium availability.  By the time the end of January rolls around, ninety percent of the starting times are posted.  The ESPN Sunday Night Schedule is pretty much complete, except for the summer that based on a flex schedule.  As of today, all of the teams have posted their starting times for the 2012 season except for the Cleveland Indians.  This gives the extreme baseball enthusiast the chance to mark down all possible doubleheader attempts for the year.

When I failed my first two bids for the Guinness Book of World Records (for visiting all of the stadiums in the least amount of days), I had to research all possible doubleheader partners to match up.  In the off-season before I broke the record, I spent days punching in all scenarios for each ball club.  I investigated all forms of travel methods despite costs.  There are some people that like to hammer out the most games conceivable in the least amount of days.  I for one, have a job where I pay a surcharge daily for someone to run my business while I go vacation, so each day is important.  There are people that downplay my philosophy, this I do understand.  I would never suggest that someone rush their first visit to a stadium, or even a baseball city for that matter, but once you have been to the park and city before then I implore you to park hop like a veteran.

Here are the doubleheader park attempts I did during the 3 Guinness Book of World Records Attempt’s:

Minnesota Twins at Target Field Morning game/Chicago White Sox at Us Cellular Field Night Game.  This was a successful bid as I used the #55 Hiwatha Train Line in Minnesota to my advantage, this was in conjunction with MSP Airport.  When I landed back in Chicago, I paid $65 for a sedan service ride to the park.

Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark Day Game/New York Yankees at Old Yankees Stadium for the Sunday Night ESPN 8 PM Eastern start.  This doubleheader was foiled to lengthy rain delays in Philly.  The game was not aided by extra innings either.  The logistics of this trip are still good.  There is an Amtrak station about 6 miles from CBP, where you can catch a train ride that is 90 minutes long.  From there you take the subway all the way to Yankees Stadium from Penn Station.

San Diego Padres at Petco Park day game/Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.  Another doubleheader perfectly executed.  Any of the Angels, Dodger and Padres attempts are possible.  The only drawback is that you might hit a crazy traffic jam at any point.

Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park day game/Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.  This doubleheader looked great to try until Todd ‘The Hammer’ Jones blew a save for me causing an extra 90 minutes to the game.  Had it ended at 4PM, I would have had 3 hours to drive 168 miles to Cleveland to complete the DH.

Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field day game/Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park night game.  At the advice of a front office Cubs executive, I learned that driving was definitely not the way to go.  After much research, I came up with the Amtrak maneuver.  The game at Wrigley ended at 3:45.  I used a sedan service to take me to Chicago Union Station for $50.  This was a great alternative as I saved $20 on parking alone.  I took a 5:10 Train that left me at Milwaukee Airport at 6:28 PM.  I then drove the 20 minutes to the park.

Washington Nationals at Nationals Park day game/New York Mets at Shea Stadium night game.  I used another Sunday Night game to complete this doubleheader.  This trek looked like it was going to fail a few times.  Again I used a sedan service to Ronald Regan Airport.  The flight at DCA was at 6:00 PM, and landed at Lu Guardia Airport at 7:17, giving me 45 minutes to make the 3 mile journey to Citi Field.  Mission accomplished.

Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field day game/Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium night game.  The 12 PM start at the ‘Trop’ was well received by yours truly.  I nailed this attempt after foregoing the pre-paid sedan service.  I used a cab instead because the sedan service was late.  I made a 4:50 flight in Tampa/arriving at Miami International Airport at 5:50.  It was easy enough to make the drive to Dolphin Stadium via rental car.

Oakland Athletics at McaFee Coliseum day game/San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.  The easiest doubleheader completion as there is only a bridge and 15 miles between the two cities.

Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park day game/Texas Rangers at The Ball Park in Arlington night game.  The execution was perfect, using a sedan service I was at the airport in Houston for a 5:30 flight/arriving at DFW at 6:34.  From there I would have had 30 minutes for what was a 15 minute drive on a Sunday night.

Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park day game/Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park night game.  A poorly trained sedan drive missed my proper meeting point, this delayed me 30 minutes.  The plan was a 5:15 flight out of Pittsburgh that arrived in Detroit at 6:28.  A sedan driver would have given me a shot to make this game with about a 30 minute ride to the park.

I completed a Wrigley Field/Miller Park doubleheader driving.  The Amtrak option was ruled out because of construction delays.  I braved the elements of the road.  I sprinted from the parking lot at Miller to walk through the doors with 3 minutes to spare.

Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Center day game/New York Yankees at New Yankees Stadium night game.  I lucked out on this for several factors: There was a rain delay at the park in Yankees Stadium.  I made my flight from Toronto by using my Fast Pass International Security Clearance for passengers and a sedan service only to be in weather delay at the airport.  Once I arrived in New York, my sedan driver at LGA did not even know where Yankees Stadium was!  I walked into the stadium at 8:15 PM.  The games started at 9:40 PM.  Had all of it worked out with proper weather, I would have missed this attempt.  I would not try this again for a weekday game.

Cincinnati Reds at The Great American Ball Park day game/Chicago White Sox at Us Cellular Field night game.  I paid for a premium parking spot that saw me blast out front of the traffic in Cincinnati.  I caught a 5:40 Flight that landed in Chicago at 6:00PM because of the time change crossover.  A cab ride enabled me to make it to the park 2 minutes before the 7:11 PM Start time.  I was helped out by a rain delay once I walked into the park which  helped me gain the necessary evidence I made it on time.

New York Mets at Citi Field day game/Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ball Park night game.  The 12 PM start time in New York was ideal for this DH.  The 7 line train took me all the way to New York Penn Station.  I took a 75 minute express train to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.  My brother picked me up and we were at ‘CBP’ 20 minutes later.

Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field day game/Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium night game.  I used the 12 PM game in Cleveland, plus a great light rail train all the way to Cleveland’s Airport.  I caught a 4:50 plan that arrived in Kansas City at 6PM.  I had a $50 sedan service take me all the way to the park.  The driver actually had a security guard move a blockade in order to for me to be dropped off at the front door.

I made a Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers doubleheader to complete the DH portion of the streaks.

I will be writing a lot of blogs on this subject.  I will be posting a Doubleheaders Master Schedule on my website in March.  There will be every plausible scenario listed.  Also look for my future blogs about travel tips.  All of the best information can also be attained from my book ‘The Fastest Thirty Ballgames.’  The links to buy are also listed at my website below.

*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  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*** 

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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Doug Booth: An Inside Look at the 2011 World Series Ballparks

Sunday October 23, 2011

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  We are very fortunate today to have author Doug Booth of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”, join us today with a Guest MLB Blog.  Doug, an expert on major league baseball parks, shares his knowledge on The Ballpark In Arlington (Texas) and Busch Stadium (St. Louis)- the sites of the 2011 World Series.  We appreciate Doug taking the time out of his schedule to articulate his knowledge and experiences of these amazing ballparks.  Enjoy.      

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It’s Antlers & Claws vs. The Squirrel in the World Series

(AL)TEXAS RANGERS VS. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (NL)

The 2011 World Series features the second ever meeting of a series between the two clubs, with only a 2004 series in Texas has been played in the whole history of interleague.  The Fall Classic may display some of the unique characteristics each city, park and all of the fans to display to the rest of the world.  From the new tradition of the faithful Rangers fans joining in with players to do the antlers/claws celebration when powering up-or the entire Cardinal team taking the good luck pet squirrel-(both the real live one and the stuffed squirrel that was tossed into the Cardinal bullpen-and participated in the champagne celebration of the NL Champs,) this series will be entertaining.

First you have the Texas Rangers, formerly the Washington Senators, who moved to the state of Texas in 1972 only to wait for almost forty years for their first World Series appearance and have since gone back to the second time-to the Cardinals 3rd trip since 2004-and them trying to add to their 11 World Series titles already.  Ballpark fans will tell what to look for if you listen.

In Texas, and of course everything is always bigger in Texas, there will be sunny warm weather, plenty of cowboy hats and Stetsons, whereas the Cardinals fans will be decked out in their best red team shirts and jerseys.  The Ballpark in Arlington will play the ‘Natural’ movie theme song every time their player takes the ball yard, while St. Louis will cheer their players for a homer with the warmest of exuberance while the weather may surface near freezing temperatures.  The Rangers fans, with their loud and boisterous ways-will cheer for the Cardinals to fail at defense, meanwhile the Cardinals fans will always cheer a great baseball play even if it costs their team a chance to score and win the game.

There is plenty of tiered parking at ‘The Ballpark In Arlington.’  It is a price structure that is the fairest in the majors.  The more you are willing to walk, the less you have to pay to watch an event there.  Then you have the NL version of the ‘Yankees’, so much like downtown New York, in St. Louis you will be lucky to find a spot-and worst yet-you may miss your turn-offs from the highway.   Busch Stadium displays one of the best iconic visuals in the Arch for the back drop of the park, in contrast-The Ballpark in Arlington has the biggest space in the outfield bleachers with the corporate offices staring down at the field. That means that the like of Nolan Ryan will always be watching even if the Cards are just practicing. If that doesn’t intimidate you at all you can always see the 1.2 billion dollar Cowboys Stadium across the street.

The fans will sing ‘Deep in the heart of Texas’ after the seventh inning stretch in Arlington.  The Busch fans will probably blast ‘thank god I am a country boy, or cotton-eyed Joe’ on the loudspeaker.

After the games at Busch Stadium, the downtown district and especially Mike Shannon’s steakhouse, they will celebrate their team playing in the playoffs.  In Texas, the streets that lead to the highways will be jammed causing some of the people to carry-on the partying in the parking lots or wait for other form of ground transportation by celebrating with other fans.

This series represents the 29th and 30th ballparks I ever saw.  I had seen all other 28 ballparks in less than a month in 2008-and was delighted at the style and professionalism each ballpark displayed.  The staff at Busch Stadium had my dad and me on the field being interviewed by Fox Sports-Midwest.  It was an incredible gesture on their part.  As for attending The Ballpark In Arlington right after, I was blown away by the size and structure of this behemoth park.  I watched a game where the temperature soared into the 100’s, but don’t be afraid of attending the game-you can always cool off in centerfield by having an ice cream or smoothie in the little kids indoor concession stand that has air conditioning!  Just always know what the score is because the concourses are so big you can’t see the game or scoreboard from them

So sit back and watch the baseballs fly out of both parks with what may be the best ever NL offence, and the best AL offence since the 1927 Yankees.  I warn you, be prepared for all possibilities, I witnessed a 15 inning game at Busch in 2009 where they actually ran out of pop and the game ended at 1:15 Am in the morning, oh yeah and I witnessed a torrential down pour at the Ballpark In Arlington to add to my ballpark viewing resume.

The moral of the story is eat lots of food of water, be caught up in the parks different traditions-and finally stay until the final pitch is made.  If the game happens to be in St. Louis and the Rangers win the World Series-watch how the ‘classiest fans in baseball’ will show the nation yet again of how nice they are.  I am sure they would rather win still though.

DCB

*** Thank you to Doug Booth for joining us today on MLB reports.  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***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Interview with Doug Booth: Author of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”

Sunday October 9, 2011

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  I recently had the pleasure to share my book review of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” on MLB reports.  Following my review, I had a chance to correspond with one of the authors of the book, Doug Booth.  We discussed the book, the life and times of Doug Booth, ballpark chasing and much more.   Sit back and enjoy my interview with a man who epitomes baseball fandom- Author Doug Booth, in discussing his recently published book, “The Fastest 30 Ballgames:  A Ballpark Chasers World Record Story”.

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MLB reports:  It is a pleasure to have you on the Reports Doug.  Thank you for joining us today.  Tell us a little more about who is Doug Booth.  How did you get involved with the great game of baseball? 
 
Booth:  I am a 35-year-old courier from Vancouver B.C Canada.  When I was 18 years old I had a chance to play NCAA Baseball Division 1 for Liberty University, but had suffered 7 concussions and multiple knee injuries from playing various sports-so I retired from baseball prematurely.  While I still followed MLB on TV and radio for the next decade, a little piece of me lost the zest for the game because I couldn’t play it anymore. To this day, I still can’t even play the game as the symptoms from my previous concussions come back with too much exertion.  In 2005, I attended my first MLB Park in the USA at Safeco Field in Seattle.  I had only been to Olympic Stadium in Montreal-and The Rogers Center previously as a teenager, so it was nice to find my love for the game re-invigorated.  ‘It all escalated into the extreme chaser I am now.’

 
MLB reports:  I very much enjoyed reading “The Fastest 30”, as our readers could tell from my recent book review.  Considering the work and effort involved, how does it feel seeing the book as a final product- published book?
 
Booth:  I have to tell you, there were moments where this whole book concept really frustrated me to no end.  It was a lot harder to write this baseball book than it was to write my first two books that I have in circulation.  It was hard trying to write a novel based on a true story.  Having said that, I am very happy that I completed this journey and have all of the memories of the trip chronicled and categorized, but most importantly that there are pictures of journey with my family and friends that will be forever cemented in literature.

 
MLB reports:  The first part of “The Fastest 30” chronicles your two attempts to set the Guinness World Record for attending all 30 MLB parks in the shortest amount of time.  Why this record Doug? Why did you want to reach this particular goal so badly?
 
Booth:  The trip originally was going to be 48 states and 30 ballparks in 45 days, but once I had enough money stored for the trip I heard my inspirational ‘hero’ Jim Maclaren had been sidelined with a devastating injury-and his foundation was raising money for him.  For those that have not read the book.  I heard Jim interview on the ‘Jim Rome Show’ back in 2004.  Jim was a quadripeligic motivational speaker who inspired others by his ‘choose life’ motto.  It took Jim hours each day to do menial tasks, but he was at a place in his life where he was happiest because he made peace with himself.  Each day he would defy the odds of doctors testing his own physical and mental fortitude.  But his spirits had been dampened by an accident, and I wanted to do something.  I investigated about the world record for this given category and found out the record at that time was 29 days.  With some quick re-tooling, and armed with a drive to raise money for the Head North Foundation, (A charity championing the cause for spinal research) I was able to put a streak chase together that would use this charity as my motivation to break the World Record.  Much like Jim, I would have to tests the limits of my physical and mental capabilities to pull this off.

 
MLB reports:  After your first unsuccessful attempt at the record in 2008, was there a thought to taking a break or perhaps giving up?  What motivated you try again so quickly- no burn out?
 
Booth:  I chased the record for 41 days in the summer of 2008.  I used up every ounce of my physical being, and tapped every resource of the money I had saved up in order to break the record.  I had put forth a 30-29 record attempt-only to find out the record had been newly set that summer by a man Josh Robbins.  The new streak record was 30 games in 26 days.  I did not have to submit the record to Guinness because I was not even tied as the record holder anymore.  It was all because I had a 3 day break for the All-Star Break that was unavoidable 2 weeks into my trip.  I had booked off the time from work, and had bought countless plane fares, baseball tickets and hotels stays-so I was stuck with the 3 day break.  That 3 day penalty, plus another day penalty I had received when I met my mother in Toronto, (instead of carrying onto Cleveland from Chicago for a game) when a plane was delayed to Toronto-thus killing my chance for to make it to the Rogers Center for first pitch.  If you took those games off-I could have put a 30-25 streak submission up in the 1st year.  I did complete 5 doubleheaders in the 29 day trip.  It ate at me for 2 months until the schedule for 2009 came out.  I saw a perfect schedule looming if it all worked out.  When I put together the finances by April of 2009, I knew I had a shot at breaking the record.  When an early season rainout added a 7th doubleheader attempt at Yankees Stadium for a 30-23 attempt, I knew I had an opportunity at history.

 
MLB reports:  Please describe your feelings after you set your goal.  Did you achieve fulfillment?  Any other emotions kick-in post-record?
 
Booth:  In contrast to 2008, when I felt empty and had a downward spiral for about 2-3 months, I was elated beyond control for setting the record on Aug.14/2009 at Comerica Park in Detroit.  It was a 1-0 walk off homer by the hometown Tigers in the bottom of the ninth.  In somewhat fitting circumstances to the journey’s end, fireworks were shot off at the park for what seemed like an eternity.  I had a 10 hour drive back to my brother’s house in New Jersey the next day, during this time I contemplated what had taken place.  For me, and this is what people could not understand because they could not fathom a trip of this magnitude-was that this was not the hardest part of the journey.  It was the 308 days I had worked in a row in order to secure the money I needed, the rigorous schedule of 90 hour work weeks in which I battled the physical and mental fatigue-and all the times it looked bleak moving towards this , that was the hard part.  Once I was out at the ballparks, I was in my world.

 
MLB reports:  Looking back now, if you could do anything different from the second world record-setting journey, what would it be? 
 
Booth:  Not much, although I will always wonder what would have happened in Pittsburgh had I received a fluid sedan pick-up?  I would have liked to have had the opportunity to make that 5:15 PM flight from the Pittsburgh Airport, leaving downtown at about 3:40 PM instead of 4:15 PM.  I will tell you from that point on all of my transportation drivers were probably sick of me going over the game-plans of the pick-up/drop-off strategies.
 

MLB reports:   The second part of the book is the Ballpark Chasers guide to all 30 MLB parks, with ratings.  From your own experiences, what was your top five favorite MLB parks and why?
 
Booth:  My top 5 parks in order are:  1. AT&T Park-because it is a beautiful park in the best city, and has the best food, climate and value out of all of the parks;  2. Yankee Stadium-I am a Yankees fan and nothing beats a game in the ‘Bronx’ with the fans.  The steak sandwiches and Nathan’s hotdogs do a considerable amount for the park-while New York is also an awesome city to visit;  3. Wrigley Field-It is the best place to watch a game for just the game period.  The Ivy, the scoreboard and the history and a little known fact, I spent more time there during the streaks than anywhere else;  4. Fenway Park-Even as a Yanks fan you have to marvel at the history of this Park.  ‘The Green Monster’ is the best iconic visual of a Park anywhere in the majors; and 5. Busch Stadium-I enjoy the backdrop of the ‘Arch,’ the baseball fans in St. Louis are the classiest in the majors-and it was the only field I was interviewed on.

 
MLB reports:  To let readers know, you had two other authors assist you with “The Fastest 30”.  Why these two particular individuals?  How did they get involved in the project?
 
Booth:  My co-authors (Craig Landgren and Kenneth Lee) and I met online at http://www.ballparkchasers.com/ after the 1st streak chase in 2008.  Over the course of the next year I would make my way onto the ballpark chaser scene in writing blogs, being involved in major discussions and talking about baseball.  At first everyone did not know what to think of me because they had all followed Josh Robbins’30-26 trip.  I had joined way after Josh at the site.  Soon it would be that I gained some respect from Craig and Ken.  Like me, Ken Lee has been to all 30 ballparks-and was most active with the other members.  I asked him to help me chronicle my streak by writing blogs-and help post pictures/verify that I was legitimately at all of the parks for evidence reasons.  We hit it off right away.  It was nice to have a friend keep you motivated on this kind of record.  When I decided to write the book I asked for Ken’s write-ups of the 2009 streak to be part of the novel.  Craig Landgren is the founder of Ballpark Chasers.  He has spent much time and devotion plying his craft of being a website master.   The kind of information on all of the 30 parks come directly from all of the diligent work Craig has done in interacting with all of the members-and his own personal research.  I knew the novel would be too short with just my streak attempts, and since I never spend too much time in one particular city, it was only natural that we enter this book as a partnership.  I was able to add some of my own expertise to each ‘ballpark chaser guide’, so it made the work so much more rewarding.  If you added all of our write-ups of expertise it made for a ‘super’ guide.

 
MLB reports:  For readers that starting their own baseball trips, what advice would you give in “how to become a Ballpark Chaser?”
 
Booth:  The first thing I recommend any potential chaser to do is sign up at www.ballparkchasers.com , we have some of the best traveling experts in North America offering free advice and information in a friendly manner.  Ballpark Chasers also had a Facebook Group to sign up for.  Also buy my book.  I hope that is not too direct here, but honestly this book represents all of its members and people that have contributed to these guides via Thousands of games attended.  Other than that, always budget $250-350 per road game, book your plane fares in advance, sign up for all of the MLB’ teams newsletters-that automatically send out ticket deals, learn your rewards programs for all of your car rentals, hotels and other travel partners.  In addition to this, have a full schedule itinerary 24/7/168 time planner set out for your trip.  Have backup plans for each city when it comes to weather, travel delays and fatigue.  Doing a little bit of research goes a long way.

 
MLB reports:  Doug, if you could do this all over again: would you?  Was achieving the World Record worth the time, money, blood, sweat the tears that you invested in your journey?
 
Booth:  Absolutely it was worth it.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t thank the game of baseball for molding me as a man in this journey-and also for the newly found friends I found.  Baseball is truly the game that defines ‘pastime.’  I can’t think of another sport that can unify generations of families to be at the same place and same time.  It is ageless and timeless. I have seen infant babies to a 100-year-old men and women at the game. Each of one of them at the game represents something different, but they all come for the experience.  This journey has challenged me to rise up to the occasion and fight for what I believe in.  I have a focus like I have never had ever before in my life.

 
 
MLB reports:  What does the future hold for Doug Booth?  Will we see any follow-ups to “The Fastest 30” and what are your goals professionally in the world of baseball?

Booth:  I am putting together another ‘ultimate road concept’ in 2012-that will make my other baseball journeys seem like a kindergarten class for longevity.  I implore anybody to follow my future journeys at my website www.fastestthirtyballgames.com.  I also plan on asking MLB for a job, in firing up people in some kind of motivational capacity.  I will be attending Broadcasting School in the near future and I will always continue to write about the game of baseball in some manner.  My life as a ‘ballpark chaser’ has just started!

 

 

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

 

*** Thank you to Doug Booth for joining us today on MLB reports.  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***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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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