RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

RVing with Alice and Jaimie

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again! by Alice Zyetz

PNC Park
Home of the Pirates: Pittsbugh's PNC Park

Great American Ball Park
Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds

Petco Park
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres

Anahein Stadium
The Los Angeles Angels' home: Anahein Stadium

Batter in Cincinnati
Batter in the Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati

Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals

Yogi Berra was right. Another baseball season is upon us. Eighty-nine-year-old man sells part of his collection of baseball cards for $1.6 million! A mint-condition Mickey Mantle rookie card sells for $186,000. "Casey at the Bat" even now intrigues us almost 120 years later. Some say the game is slow and boring, there are too many commercials in between pitches, and tickets are too expensive, but we are still devoted fans. Speaking as Terence Mann in the movie "Field of Dreams," James Earl Jones says in his richly resonant voice, "The one constant through all the years has been baseball. This field, this game is a part of our [American] past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be good again."

RVers Can Travel More Cheaply to Follow Their Passion

RVers are no different from other baseball-loving Americans. Their benefit is that it might be a tad cheaper to pursue their dream and visit as many stadiums as they want. Janet Wilder's husband Barry grew up in the Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. As they traveled, they visited more than six cities with major stadiums while parking their rig at campgrounds in the suburbs. Denny, another RVer who's a devoted Yankee fan, would like to do the big tour of all the stadiums in the future, but nostalgia trumps economy. Next week he and his wife are flying to New York to see Seattle play the Yankees at the old stadium before they tear it down. Denny says, "I missed the Concorde, but I'm not going to miss the old stadium. There's a lot of history there."

Like so many others, Paul Schmidt played his first organized baseball game at the age of seven in Little League. Until the age of six, he lived three blocks from Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, and the Phillies were his favorite team. Those were the days when the Phillies would let the neighborhood kids in for free after the fifth inning. Paul adds, "Baseball is my favorite, since any group of kids can pick up a rubber ball and a broom handle and play a form of baseball in any city street or playground as I did in Philadelphia." He also loved meeting some of his Phillies heroes when he was a kid and getting their autographed pictures. As with many of us (unlike the man who sold his collection for $1.6 mil), he wonders what his mother did with his old mementos. Paul (email him at paulwsc@hotmail.com) is currently writing a book about RV travel to baseball stadiums, both major and minor leagues. Websites for the Major League Teams can be found by typing the team name, e.g. www.bostonredsox.com. For a complete list of major league teams, go to www.mlb.com.

Take Advantage of Minor League Baseball Games

RVers have a greater chance of being able to park for free or a nominal cost in the parking lots of minor league teams. Tickets and food are cheaper as well. Paul's advice is that once you are at a major league team's Web site, you can locate the minor league button, which will give you the information on all the Farm Teams associated with an individual team.

Janet Wilder loves the minor leagues. "The ballparks are smaller and more intimate," she says. "Some even have cheerleaders. There are contests between innings. When we planned to take in a game in Great Falls, Montana, we learned that the local drugstore chain was giving away free tickets that night. Since then we check the local newspaper in advance to see if there is a promo. Minor league teams also have web sites and the promo nights will be in their schedules." For a complete list of all the different minor leagues and the teams within each league, visit web.minorleaguebaseball.com.

Additional Baseball Attractions and Websites

Digital Ballparks provides information about both major and minor leagues, historical ballparks, and Spring training sites.

Ballparks of Baseball specializes in the actual parks themselves, particularly by providing directions and parking information. The site features "Field Trip of Dreams,"an excellent article by Ken Schlapp about his road trip to all the major league parks in 49 days one summer. Ken describes his planning steps (an excellent resource) and mentions four museums for those who love baseball:

Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri

Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky

Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa

RTA correspondent, cultural historian and author Chris Epting's Roadside Baseball is an excellent guidebook for anyone interested in visiting historic ballparks. He shares his favorite ten parks here.

Big League Tours

Ron Kittle with Glenn Dunlap & family
Glenn Dunlap, right, founder of Big League Tours, with his father, son, and Ron Kittle at US Cellular Field

Glenn Dunlap, whose excellent photos accompany this article, has always enjoyed the game of baseball, whether playing competitively or just catch in the yard, listening to a game on the radio, or watching on television or at the ballpark. "But the things that standout the most to me," he says, "are the connections I've made with friends and family and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that have happened, like meeting Johnny Bench and getting his autograph."

As a result, he designed Big League Tours to include more than just tickets. He encourages multi-generational family groups to participate. Each of his baseball tours includes

  • Field-level tickets
  • An exclusive meet-and-greet with a former MLB player
  • Some stadium tours and practice sessions
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Ground transportation

Custom tours are available on request. Although his typical customer is not an RVer, he is happy to work with RVers who would like to design a custom tour to accommodate their RV needs. Call Glenn at (317) 534-2475 or e-mail him at gdunlap@bigleaguetours.com. These would make great Father's or Mother's Day gifts for the family.

Writing about baseball has brought back my own memories of listening to the Giants' games on the radio with my father, especially Bobby Thompson's famous home run. Enjoy this year's season! Happy baseball trails!

Alice Zyetz
5/6/07

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