Family Quest to Visit All of the Major League Baseball Stadiums
In a little over 20 years, my mother, brother and I, along with other family along the way, visited every Major League Baseball Stadium in America! Though we never caught a foul ball, the games we saw, the hot dogs we ate and the people we met, piece by pice created one of the longest and best baseball memories I have.
Ever since I was a youngster, baseball has always been a part of my life, starting t-ball almost as soon as I was comfortable walking, and aspiring to be like my big brother, Sean, I watched baseball, I played baseball, I loved baseball. Little did I know, that almost 22 years ago now, I was about to start a 20 year long, family rooted, trip around Canada and the USA to visit and watch a baseball game in every single Major League stadium in the MLB.
I was born and raised in London, Ontario, so being only a 2 hour drive away, Toronto, Ontario was the closest pro baseball team to me, and to no ones surprise it was my favourite team! We were close to quite a number of other cities with their own MLB team, so as you might expect, this journey began with some one or two day long road trips to see a game, and eventually turned into week long trips once a year to see games in different cities.
First MLB Baseball Game
In May of 1993, when I was not quite 5 years old, my mom decided one night to take a day trip with my brother and I to Pittsburg to see a Pittsburg Pirates game. She packed up the car the night before, woke up extremely early the next morning before we were even awake, loaded us in the car and hit the road. After catching an afternoon game, we all headed back across the border to get home. This spur of the moment road trip took a while to soak in, but we all caught the baseball fever after that game.
After a couple years of our baseball passion growing, we again hit the road in 1995, first in May to see a Chicago White Sox game where my brother got to see his favourite player, Frank Thomas, play! Then in July to see another team that was a bit closer to home, the Detroit Tigers.
The next year we all had the urge to go bigger, so we hit three stadiums in 1996, and this year was the first time extra family tagged along for some of the baseball adventure. Another trip to Chicago to see the Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field, a weekend up in Montreal to see the Montreal Expos (of course this team is no longer but we still count it as they were in the MLB when we saw the game), and finishing this season out with a bang, was the Boston Red Sox where we made sure to take the tour of Fenway Park, including a walk around the warning track to get up close in person with the Green Monster.
1997 took us to see the Cleveland Indians, and 1998 sent us on the road to watch the Cincinnati Reds. In September of 1998, we stretched our road trip capacities (at least for a single mom with two energetic, baseball loving boys in the backseat), when we headed to the west coast to see the Seattle Mariners.
We knew at this point travelling by car was getting to be a little inefficient, so our last road trip was to a St. Louis Cardinals game in 1999. Later that same year we drove only as far as the detroit airport, then flew to see a New York Mets game. And because it was more expensive to fly we knew we had to start doubling up any teams that were close to each other. However the Yankees weren’t playing at home anywhere close to the dates we’d be in New York, but we were able to go see the Philadelphia Phillies play at home.
In 2000, unknown why it really took us so long to see our home team, we all went to watch our beloved Toronto Blue Jays play!
The next year had us flying to see the Milwakee Brewers play in their new, super nice, stadium, and this was our first time running into any ticket issues:P Who would have thought a team no where close to any playoff hopes that year or the prior season, would have sold out and been standing room only. We were lucky enough the Brewers were at home for a few nights, so still managed to see a home game and check it off the list.
2002, we ran into some other issues (starting to become a trend?), landing in San Francisco and this being all of our first time in California, were shocked to find this place was freezing. Needless to say we all had to go buy coats and sweaters the first day. (*Keep in mind this was still before the internet would tell you just about anything you wanted to know, so we didn’t check the weather before we went*) So we managed to see the San Francisco Giants play at their incredibly cool stadium on the harbour, and actually a double cool for this game, as it was the year Barry Bonds was going for the Home Run record, so the harbour was filled with boats and kayaks to catch the home run baseballs.
While in the neighbourhood we also managed to go see an Oakland Athletics game, which had a bit of an older stadium, but who cares when it’s Dollar Days! Thats right, one dollar for a hot dog, one dollar for a beer!!!! And there were limits, 12 hot dogs max per person, haha, and I can’t remember what the max dollar beers there was per person (I was 13!). But this game was a memorable one, hot dogs all game long, lots of beers for the grownups, it’s was watching a baseball game was all about!
The next two years we tackled those teams with no close neighbours, so in 2003 we went to see the Atlanta Braves, and in 2004 we watched the Kansas City Royals play a home game. And if either of those teams are your favourite, then I apologize, but there wasn’t anything too exciting happening for those baseball trips:P
We felt a deja vu in 2005 when we went to see the new home of the Montreal Expos, who had now become the Washington Nationals. While in the area we went to catch a Baltimore Orioles game.
2006 we had a rest year, as we knew 2007 we were gearing up to take on three baseball parks! First up was San Diego Padres, and this quickly turned to my favourite city in the US, not too big but still had so much to do! Next was the Los Angeles Dodgers, and LA proved to be a little chaotic for a family of 8 (including 3 generations), but we definitely saw the highlights! And last we managed to fit in one last game, seeing the Anaheim Angels play at home, and while we missed the game the first night (ended up taking a bus to the anaheim neighbourhood, not the actual city:P), we made it to a game the night before we left!
Alas, in 2008 we made it back to the big apple, the New York Yankees! And I felt quite fortunate that this was set to be their last season played in the original Yankee Stadium, and the next year their new stadium was set to be completed and would be their home park for years to come. (The next picture really gives you an idea how “Babe Ruth” this stadium still felt!)
2009 we made our way to see the Minnesota Twins, and in 2010 we headed for the mountains, seeing the Colorado Rockies play at home. This trip to Colorado, including a few side trips out to Boulder, and to see some waterfalls, might have just sparks that adventurous side of my that shines through a lot more these days.
Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the newest teams to be added to the MLB list of professional teams, and in 2011, we just couldn’t turn down a trip to visit Arizona and Sedona to see their amazing landscapes!
Coming into our home stretch with only 4 teams left to see, we were getting further away from home, but at the same time, were getting into warmer climates! During the 2012 season, we went to see both a Tampa Bay Rays game and a Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) game down in Miami. We were lucky enough to blend into this baseball trip, a quick cruise over to Nassau, Bahamas to see some family friends who live there!
In our final year, I was fortunate enough to have met my now wife, Melissa, who tagged along for our last baseball trip to see the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers both play a home game. This was such an interesting trip, as Mel and I had just gone vegan, so dining out in Texas proved to be quite difficult. And after these baseball games, the two of us flew over to California to take part in our first ultra marathon together, Born to Run.
29 major cities, 31 Major League Baseball stadiums, 93 ticket stubs, countless hot dogs and memories to last forever. Was there anything we collected from every stadium, I picked up a mini bat from each game, my mom kept the ticket stubs, and we all collected the big plastic collector cups. Will we re-do all the ones that have been rebuilt since we visited? We have no plans on doing this, but if any of us are back in a city with a new stadium, I’m sure we’ll stop in at the ball park to catch a ball game!
Disclaimer: Since most of this baseball adventure took place before there was an app to track all the dates, some of my dates could be wrong, so if I’m wrong on any of the events happening with a team or in a city in a certain year, we might just have the date wrong. First and last games we know, the rest just happened in the middle!