Baseball Trip Highlights
The very first baseball trip was a package deal that included air fare, hotel and rental car. There were four attendees, and being both frugal and cheap, shared a single hotel room. After suffering through a sleepless night due to one person's excessive snoring, one attendee commented, "I thought I was sleeping in a ThunderDome." The trip included several trips to a particular nightclub, drinks at the Peachtree Plaza hotel and the observation that Atlanta has lots of streets named "Peachtree." The baseball games between the Phillies and Braves, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, featured seats directly behind a woman with a "skunk" hairdo one night, seat cushion night and seeing the Braves' Bob Horner, hit a HR, triple and two doubles in one game. He could have stopped at first base on the last double and had a cycle. There were no specific plans to make such a trip an annual tradition until one of the attendees asked, "Where should we go next year?" The annual baseball trip tradition was born.
Baseball trip no. 2 took us north of the border to beautiful Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The attendee list differed from the first trip and that became a common occurance. One scheduled attendee had to cancel at the last minute leaving the rest of the group with one extra ticket to each of the scheduled games. On the first morning, the group, which included one single woman, persuaded the waitress at a waffle shop to meet us at the game. She did show up for the first game between the Orioles and Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium and took us to a nightclub afterward. Exhibition Stadium featured lots of bad seats. Our group occupied some of those seats for all three games.
The trip also featured a side trip to Niagara Falls. Highlights include the requisite trip to the top of the CN Tower, dinner at Old Ed's and an adult movie in the room of the female attendee who, in an effort to indicate to the rest of the group that she was not interested in recreating any scenes from the movie, applied a liberal coating of cold cream to her face and put on heavy, flannel pajamas.
Trip no. 3 took us to the greatest city on Earth, New York City. Again, the attendee list differed from the first two trips. The six attendees occupied two rooms at the Edison Hotel in Times Square. We quickly learned that in the hotel business, no tip = no towels. There was never a problem with oversleeping. We were conveniently awakened by the jackhammering outside our window every morning.
Sightseeing was a major priority and the sights we saw included theEmpire State Building, the now-destroyed World Trade Center, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, the New York Stock Exchange, a couple of art galleries in Soho, the Trump Tower, Central Park and we had a great lunch at an Italian restaurant, the Grotta Azzura, in Little Italy. One that featured the never to be forgotten exclamation, "That's not a spot, that's a glob!" We took in games in multiple stadiums for the first time, we had excellent seats at Yankee Stadium for the Orioles - Yankees game and marginal seats at Shea Stadium for the Mets - Phillies. No trip to New York would be complete without a Broadway show. We picked up half price tickets to "Oh Calcutta!" We were not prepared for what we saw in that show.
You just can't beat the subway for getting around in New York City. We learned all of the secrets of navigating the subway, including the concept of the "express train." On one occasion, we boarded a train headed the direction we wanted to go only to notice our destination station as we whipped by.
We saw programs like we had never seen before (or since) on late night cable television in New York.
Trip no. 4 was the first to the "left coast." The largest group of attendees to date stayed at a nice, small hotel near Union Square in San Francisco. One of the highlights of this trip were the cucumber sandwiches served in the hotel each afternoon at tea time. The trip included a wine country tour, the obligatory visit to the top of the highest building in the city (the Transamerica Pyramid), a trip to Alcatraz Island, rides on the cable cars and a lunch in China Town.
We did some shopping (actually more looking than shopping) around Union Square. One member of our group was approached by a street person asking for 35 cents so he and his brother could go to Chicago. That raised the question about how anyone, never mind two people, could get from San Francisco to Chicago for 35 cents. Needless to say (needless to say if you knew this guy that is) that homeless gentleman is probably still searching for that 35 cents.
We rode BART to Oakland and took in an extra-inning, afternoon game between the Rangers and Athletics in Oaklandunder beautiful, sunny skies. In contrast, the night game at Candlestick Park between the Giants and Padres was akin to an expedition to the South Pole. Fortunately, we were prepared having obtained blankets from the hotel staff.
Baseball trip no. 5 took us to the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts. When we made the decision to go to Boston, one of the attendees commented that it would be fun to see the Liberty Bell. I replied that its going to be kind of hard to see the Liberty Bell considering that it is in Philadelphia. Given the high prices for hotels near downtown Boston, I worked with a travel agent to try to find reasonably priced accomodations. We did find a hotel matching our location and price restrictions but found out upon arrival that the hotel bar catered to Boston's gay community (not that there's anything wrong with that). Some members of the traveling party found this little detail interfered with their drinking pleasure and sought accomodations elsewhere at a much higher price.
We took a trolley tour of Boston and also walked the Freedom Trail. We stopped into the Cheersbar just to say that we had been there. We also visited the JFK Library.
This trip featured the largest group of attendees to date, including a couple from outside of Toronto that my wife and I had met on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1988. Dinner at the Union Oyster House (America's oldest restaurant) one evening resulted in a bill of $450, not including the $100 worth of appetizers that were paid for separately. The group attended a show at a local comedy club after the seafood dinner and some attendees almost found themselves part of the show. Those same attendees also got thrown out of a pizza place near Fenway Park before they could order their first drink (they had already had several beverages prior to that time).
We saw two games at Fenway Park between the Indians and Red Sox, including a Sunday afternoon game at which Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski's uniform no. 8 was retired.
Trip no. 6 was the most aggressive trip in terms of watching baseball, featuring three games in three stadiums in Chicago and Milwaukee. We stayed at an older hotel on Michigan Avenue. One attendee had gotten the trip itinerary wrong and didn't show up when we had agreed to meet. Following a number of phone calls and a short night of sleep, he showed up in the hotel lobby before the first full day's activities commenced.
One of the regular baseball trip attendees was living near Chicago at this time and he provided much of the ground transportation. We attended the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park. While at the festival, our local host suffered an unfortunate mishap when he accidentally spilled a couple of quarts (at least it seemed that it must have been that much) of barbeque sauce on his shirt. He tried to wash it out, but was mostly unsuccessful thereby forever cementing his "Spot" nickname. Sightseeing in Chicago included the Adler Planetarium, the Sears Tower and John Hancock Building, keeping with the "see the tallest building in the city" tradition.
Possibly the best "true" baseball experience of any trip to date was the afternoon game at (old) Comiskey Park between the Mariners and the White Sox. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the history of Comiskey was visible everywhere. We also enjoyed an afternoon game between the Cubs and Phillies at Wrigley Field. The downside to that game was that our seats were not very good. We also took a side trip to Milwaukee. While some of the attendees spent an afternoon at the Milwaukee Zoo, the women preferred to spend that day at a local shopping mall. We did see a baseball rarity in the Blue Jays - Brewers game at County Stadium when Toronto scored 10 runs in the fourth inning.
The 1991 trip destination was dictated by the fact that Baltimore Orioles were to be moving from Memorial Stadium to the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the 1992 season. Not wanting to miss the chance to see games in as many stadiums as possible, we decided to catch a couple of games in Memorial Stadium before the Orioles flew the coop. We stayed at a Holiday Inn across the street from the then under construction Oriole Park. Rates were reasonable back then, my guess is that the rates are much higher now. We met some of the addendees in the hotel lounge after arriving from the airport. There were a couple of other patrons in the lounge that night that claimed that they had never had hotter Buffalo wings than those served in the lounge. I quickly pooh-poohed their claims. They offered to buy my wife, two friends and I a plate of wings if we could eat them without drinking anything. No problem! Coming from Texas, we were used to spicy food and polished off the wings without shedding a tear.
We took a trolley tour of the city and visited the Babe Ruth museum. We toured the aquarium at the Inner Harbor and spent quite a bit of time, it seemed, at Hooters. I guess the single guys on this trip liked the beer there. Unlike the disappointment of not seeing the Liberty Bell during our trip to Boston in 1989, we did get to see the Washington Monument while in Baltimore.
We took a bus to Memorial Stadium for both games we attended. As we were walking up to the stadium for the Sunday afternoon game between the Orioles and White Sox, I mentioned to one of the guys that it would be neat to see something unusual happen in that day's game. In around the fifth inning, I nudged him and pointed to the scoreboard that showed no hits for the Orioles. As it turned out, the White Sox' Wilson Alvarez ended up throwing a no-hitter against the Birds. The home crowd was clearly rooting for the no-no in the ninth inning. It was just Alvarez' second major league start and ironically, I was at his first start, two years earlier for the Texas Rangers. In that game, he failed to retire any of the first five hitters, was taken out of the game, sent back to the minor leagues and traded to the White Sox a few days later in what then Rangers owner George W. Bush called "the biggest mistake of his adulthood." I'm guessing that there weren't very many, if any, other people at both of his first two major league starts.
The 1992 baseball trip, trip no. 8 if you're counting, was to Cleveland. We stayed at a downtown hotel that allowed us to walk everywhere we wanted to go. We were in Cleveland around the 4th of July. On the evening of the 4th, we called a cab (for seven of us) and asked the driver to take us to a particular Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, that restaurant was closed for the holiday. The cab driver, however, was determined to get us to a nice Italian restaurant and, with the meter off, drove around until he found one for us. We had a very nice dinner and the same cab driver then came back for us to take us back to our hotel. He earned his tip that night.
We saw three games between the Indians and Athletics at the "mistake by the lake," Municipal Stadium. Fortunately, we had great weather and given the lack of attendance for the Indians in those days, we generally had good seats. There was a crowd of over 40,000 in attendance for one game, but the post-game fireworks show probably played a part in bringing out the crowd that night. One highlight of the trip was that we came to the realization that one of the regular attendees, the gentleman that we affectionately refer to as "Spot," bore a striking resemblance to the Indians' mascot, Chief Wahoo, especially after he has a few drinks which bring out that distinctive reddish hue to his complexion.
My wife and I spent one day visiting with an aunt and uncle of mine that lived in the Cleveland area at that time. We met up with the rest of the group for that evening's game only to find that they had spent most of the afternoon eating and drinking beer at a local barbeque cook-off that was going on that weekend. One of the group in particular, a young lady who was a semi-regular on the baseball trips (see the 1986 trip summary above) had consumed an excessive amount of beer that afternoon. Adding several more during the game made for an interesting walk back to our hotel. The "fun" really started as we got out of our seats to leave the stadium after the game. This "lady" literally rolled down the entryway to the stadium concourse, bowling over several people in the process. Later, as we walked across the parking lot, she took a header into the concrete as she attemped to step over a low barrier. All in all, she was none the worse for wear by the next day, much to the surprise of everyone.
Baseball trip no. 9 was our second excursion to the west coast, this time to the Pacific northwest, Seattle. My wife and I had obtained frequent flyer airline tickets but were unable to book seats on the non-stop flight from Houston to Seattle, but instead had to change planes in Denver. Our traveling companion, the young lady that had the drinking problem during last year's trip, did book a seat on the non-stop. We tried to standby on that same flight, but were unsuccessful, although our luggage did make it onto that plane. The result was that our friend had to gather up the luggage for all three of us and then wait a couple of hours for my wife and I to show up. Somehow she managed to pile it all onto one of those roll around luggage carts.
Sightseeing in Seattle included the Pike Place Market, the Space Needle (where we also had lunch in the revolving restaurant), the Pacific Science Center and a tour of the now-defunct Rainier Brewery. Speaking of defunct, we also had breakfast one day at the historic Dog House restaurant. We didn't know it at the time, but the Dog House was nearing the end of it's run, closing later in 1993. I hope we didn't have anything to do with that. We did pay our check, after all.
We spent some time at one of the microbreweries, drinking beer naturally, and also went to a comedy club one night. The show was sparsely attended and even a whisper could be interpreted as heckling. The games between the Rangers and Mariners at the Kingdome were unremarkable except for the fact that Ken Griffey, Jr. did hit two homeruns in one game. The Kingdome, may it rest in peace, was clearly the worst stadium seen on any of our baseball trips. I wonder who came up with the idea of indoor fireworks?
The first decade of baseball trips concluded with a trip to sunny San Diego. Once again, there was a significant amount of time devoted to consuming local brews. Our regular single female attendee blew away the competition at a hotel bar one night downing beer after beer showing no ill effects. I'm sure she would deny this today, but just how clear could her memory be anyway?
We saw most of the major tourist sights in the San Diego area including the San Diego Zoo, Old Town and Coronado. We took time to look around the grounds of the famous Hotel Del Coronado, although it was out of our price range as a place to stay.
The baseball game at Jack Murphy Stadium (as it was then known) between the Padres and Astros offered little out of the ordinary. The highlight of the game was probably the fish tacos that we purchased at the concession stands. We had never heard of fish tacos, never mind eating them, but they were quite good.
Baseball trip number 11 marked our second foray north of the border, to Montreal, Quebec, and also had the smallest number of attendees, three, of any baseball trip. Montreal is a beautiful city and the three of us, my wife and I along with "Spot" (see the 1990 trip summary), had a great time. One thing that really impressed us was that on a bus tour on our first morning in the city, the driver ejected a couple with a screaming young child from the bus. It occurred to me that in the United States, it was far more likely that a tour guide would likely ignore the screaming child and force the remaining patrons to endure a sub-standard tour.
We saw many of the sights in Montreal including a walking tour of Old Montreal, a visit to the Biodome, St. Joseph's Oratory and the Botanical Garden. We also took a tour of Olympic Stadium.
One evening, Spot and I went to a bar near our hotel for a drink or two and discovered that the matchbooks on the bar featured a logo of a casino in Spot's hometown of Henderson, Nevada. What were the chances of that? Spot also developed a taste for poutines on this trip.
We saw two games while in Montreal, one night game and one afternoon game between the Braves and Expos although it is hard to tell the difference inside Olympic Stadium. On the day of the afternoon game, my wife decided to spend the afternoon shopping in the Montreal Underground. Spot and I took the subway to Olympic Stadium and, not having game tickets, actually stopped to talk to a scalper that was meeting the crowd at the train station. I asked what he had and he handed me a couple of tickets to inspect. About that time, he took off walking, told us to follow him. We had a hard time following him and, in fact, eventually lost him. To make a long story short, eventually we were surrounded by five or six Montreal police and were seriously contemplating the prospects of spending time in a Montreal jail. Fortunately, one of the policemen told the others that Spot and I weren't the guys they were looking for and let us go. Shortly thereafter, the scalper appeared and asked if we still wanted the tickets. I replied that we were no longer interested and gave the tickets back to him. I assume that the police were trying to crack down on scalping (although it's hard to imagine how profitable scalping is in Montreal) and were looking for the sellers instead of the buyers. We did end up with tickets about 12 or so rows behind the dugout. The nice thing about those seats was that you could get your concessions delivered to your seat. If only they could do the same thing with restroom breaks.
The 1996 trip marked the return of some baseball trip attendees for the first time since 1988. This also marked the first trip where the attendees arrived in a city other than the one in which the games were played. We flew to Las Vegas and spent our first night there before hitting I-15 for the drive to Los Angeles. The decision to begin (and end) the trip in Las Vegas was based on (1) the fact that regular attendee, Spot, lived near Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada and (2) it's always fun to spend time in Las Vegas. We stoked up on the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Circus Circus hotel before taking to the highway.
The group traveled to Los Angeles in a three car caravan. I had distributed detailed directions from Las Vegas to our hotel in Anaheim to each driver. After entering the greater Los Angeles area, thing were proceeding as planned until one of the drivers inexplicably deviated from the distributed directions and headed off down an uncharted freeway. As a result, his party's arrival at the hotel by more than 30 minutes.
Since some members of the travel party had relatives in the Los Angeles area, we split up a few times to pursue our own agendas. Some members of the group spent a day at Disneyland. My wife and myself along with a couple of others visited the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace. My wife and I also spent an afternoon visiting with my aunt and cousin in Alta Loma, CA.
The entire group took a tour of the NBC Studios in Burbank where the highlight for my wife as getting to see the "Salem Place" set from the daytime drama, "Days of Our Lives." We sat in the audience for the taping of a game show which, as far as I know, never made it to air. It was actually quite boring. It took nearly two hours to tape a single half hour espisode. We also spent a day at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. We had a fabulous time there. The Jurassic Park ride was relatively new at the time and we were looking forward to taking a ride, but no sooner had we entered the park than they posted a sign saying that the ride was closed for maintenance. Fortunately, the ride reopened an hour before the park closed and we were able to get on without standing in line for an hour or more. We had dinner one evening at a restaurant on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
We were in for a surprise when we went to Dodger Stadium for a game between the Dodgers and Padres. While we were wearing light shirts and shorts, we noticed a lot of people carrying sweaters and jackets. It turned out that they were smarter than we were. My wife ended up enjoying the game comfortably but only after dropping $35 on a Dodgers sweatshirt. We got to witness that long standing LA tradition of leaving the game long before it is over as we had a good view of the parking lot from the upper deck. No, we didn't leave early. We also took in a game at Anaheim Stadium (as it was then known) between the Angels and Mariners. We had excellent seats in the lower portion of the upper deck not far from home plate. A few of us played a game during the game in which, as each batter comes to the plate, a cup is passed to the next person who puts in a quarter. As each batter comes up, the cup is passed and another quarter added. If any batter hits a homerun, the person holding the cup at that time gets the money. Thanks, Jay Buhner!
On the return trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I took a side trip to visit some of my relative in Yucca Valley, CA. We met up with the group for dinner later that night at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
All in all, I believe the Las Vegas/Los Angeles trip was the most activity packed of them all.
Flush with the success of the dual stadium trip in 1996, the 1997 trip also encompassed two stadiums and two cities, Detroit and Toronto. The trip to Toronto marked the first return trip to the site of a previous baseball trip. A relatively small group of six assembled in Detroit and we drove in two cars to Toronto the next day via Niagara Falls. The trip into Canada got off to an inauspicious start when the car I was driving was stopped for a detailed customs inspection after we crossed the bridge into Windsor, Ontario. Fortunately we were not smuggling anything and were allowed to proceed. We stopped for lunch in London, Ontario and then proceeded on back highways to Niagara Falls. We watched the water run for a couple of hours then drove up to Toronto.
On our first morning in Toronto, we had brunch in the revolving restaurant in the CN Tower with the couple that my wife and I had met on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1988. They had also joined us for the baseball trip to Boston in 1989. It is interesting to note that this marked the third occasion that we had spent time with this couple and all three took place in different countries. We did some shopping in the Toronto "PATH" and Eaton Center before going to the Blue Jays - Brewers game at SkyDome. Note that this was the last season in which the Brewers played in the American League. We were lucky in that we arrived at the stadium well before game time and an usher allowed us to go down behind the dugout during the Brewers' batting practice. Jeff Huson of the Brewers came over and gave the seven year old son of our friends a cracked bat.
Before heading back to Detroit the next day, we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Prior to crossing the border back into the United States, we stopped at a rest stop in order to spend the last of our Canadian money. I managed to perform a "perfect pump" while fueling the rental car, stopping the pump at the exact, down to the penny, amount of Canadian money I had remaining without resorting to the bush league practice of "nudging" the total penny by penny until it stops where desired.
We checked into our hotel and then hurried to Tiger Stadium for the game between the Tigers and Brewers. Obviously the Brewers must have been following us on the road from Toronto. We had excellent seats in the front row of the upper deck down the right field line which provided a great view of the big fireworks show after the game. I had roamed around the stadium for a while during the middle innings and determined that there were a lot of bad seats in Tiger Stadium. I especially find those seats situated well under an overhang to be annoying. Popups and fly balls disappear from sight and it seems that you're watching the game through a pipe. While Tiger Stadium had a long and storied history, it was time to move on.
The last full day of the trip included a visit to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. We had dinner that evening in Greek Town. The highlight of the night was the belly dancer. One member of our group nearly found himself on stage with the belly dancer, but I believe the piercing gaze of his wife scared her away before she could grab him and pull him on stage.
The "two city trip" was becoming a regular practice by the 14th annual baseball trip in 1998. This time, we returned to Cleveland and also made our initial trip to Pittsburgh. The highlights in Cleveland included a visit to the Tower City mall and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Indians were in the midst of their long consecutive sellout streak in 1998 and we arrived in town with two tickets for the Indians - Twins game, but needed a total of seven. When we got to Jacobs Field, a couple of hours before game time, the others in the group were complaining about being hungry while I was scoping out tickets. I finally had enough of their complaints so told them to go into a restaurant and eat while I found us tickets. I eventually rounded up enough tickets for the entire group at an average price of $40. The seats were scattered, but five of us ended up with decent seats. Spot and I ended up around 20 rows back beween home and third. Not too shabby.
We made a stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH before going to Pittsburgh. After a late lunch/early dinner at the well-known Stables restaurant not far from the Hall, we continued on some back highways to Pittsburgh. After checking into our hotel, we went out for ice cream at Sweet Licks. It was fabulous.
We went into the city of Pittsburgh the next day and, after getting separated from the rest of the group, some of us walked around Point State Park, at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. We eventually caught up to the rest of our group at Station Square. We rode the Monongahela Incline and spent the afternoon shopping before taking a ferry over to Three Rivers Stadium for the Pirates - Phillies game.
The highlight of the trip, without a doubt, was the visit to Kennywood Park. We were there on an absolutely fabulous day, the park wasn't crowded, the weather was perfect and we didn't have to spend and arm and a leg to have a good time. If there was a single destination from all of the baseball trips that I would want to visit again, it would be Kennywood.
Trip number 15 was also a dual city trip, although it involved only one baseball game. The attendees arrived in Tampa at different times and eventually met up in Orlando. One of our regular baseball trip attendees, Spot, was unable to participate in the 1999. He had participated in every trip except the first. In Orlando, my wife and I had dinner with my wife's pen pal of 30 years whom she had never met in person.
We spent a day at the Kennedy Space Center and another day at the Disney MGM Studios park. A lot had changed at the Space Center since my first visit in 1978. We took the full tour, saw the shows, ate the food and had a great time. We were fortunate at the MGM Studios park that it wasn't overly crowded and the weather was nice, albeit a bit hot. Not unexpected for central Florida in August.
After returning to Tampa, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry and the the Pier in St. Petersburg before going to the Indians - Devil Rays game at Tropicana Field. There hasn't been a lot of excitement in the brief history of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but we were there for one of the most exciting events in team history - Wade Boggs' 3000th hit. Boggs remains as the only player in major league history to register his 3000th hit with a homerun.
The 16th annual baseball trip was the most difficult from a logistical viewpoint starting with the fact that half of the group had started their vacation a few days earlier and had gone to Washington and Baltimore. First, Spot was scheduled to meet my wife and I at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and then we would drive together to Philadelphia. Second, we were scheduled to meet a long-time acquaintance of mine in a Philadelphia restaurant on the night of our arrival. Third, we were schedule to meet the rest of the group at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia the following day. Unfortunately, only the second of these three scheduled events took place as planned and even that was delayed due to the wild circumstances surrounding the scheduled meeting at BWI. My wife and I landed on schedule and waited for Spot to arrive. When he didn't get off his plane, we thought we had missed him and looked around for him in the terminal and at baggage claim. My wife finally told me to check at the ticket counter. They told me that he had missed his connection in Denver and they had rerouted him to Philadelphia. I didn't think I had told him where we were going to stay, so I figured he would end up sitting at the Philadelphia airport simply hoping we would figure out where he was. We are traditionalists and had sworn off the novel notion of carrying cell phones for communication. My wife and I immediately hit the road and headed for Philadelphia. I dropped her off at baggage claim while I tried to find a place to park in the slim hope that Spot could be found. Sure enough, he was there and we managed to meet my friend at a restaurant on South Street.
Consistent with the scheduling problems, we missed meeting up with the rest of our group at the Liberty Bell the next day, but we did meet them at our backup meeting place, the Franklin Institute. The sightseeing in Philadelphia included the Betsy Ross House,Independence Hall and a bus tour of the city. We went to a Phillies - Dodgers game at Veterans Stadium. We had great seats and the weather was perfect. We even got to experience some genuine Philadelphia-style booing when the Phillies let a popup drop near the pitcher's mound that allowed the Dodgers to score the first run of the game.
We took a side trip to Hershey, PA, went to Chocolate World and took a trolley tour. We also went to Harrisburg, PA for a look around the state capital. Our group split up in Harrisburg with my wife, Spot and I returning to Philadelphia while the others went to Baltimore for their trip home. The three of us had dinner at another restaurant on South Street and upon returning to the parking lot, discovered that I had left the lights on and we had a dead battery. Fortunately, there were some guys in the lot, one of whom gave us a jump.
We went back to Baltimore and went to an Orioles - Indians game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. We were fortunate in that no sooner had we gotten into the stadium than it started pouring rain. Our seats were under cover so we just sat and waited for the rain to end. About an hour and a half later, there was a baseball game. It turned out to be a pretty nice day after all. We had dinner at the same Hooters restaurant that we had visited nine years earlier.
Baseball trip number 17 took us to south Florida and the Florida Keys. Once again part of the group left for their vacation early and the rest of us met up with them at a hotel in Key Largo after we flew into Fort Lauderdale. We spent just one night in Key Largo before going on to Key West where we spent a couple of days sightseeing. We went on a glass bottom boat cruise, a snorkling trip and hung out at Mallory Square to partake of the entertainment and watch the sunset. We also took a trolley tourof Key West and visited the Key West Shipwreck Historeum.
We went from Key West back to the mainland and directly to Pro Player Stadium for a Reds-Marlins game. The highlight (?) of this game was due to the fact that it was a rainy night. Our entire group was unprepared for rain so while waiting for the rain to stop and after having a bite to eat on the stadium concourse, we all (seven of us) bought aqua Florida Marlins ponchos. While we were sitting in our seats waiting for the grounds crew to get the field ready for play, a photographer from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel took our picture and got our names. That photo appeared on the front page of the sports section the next day. Our fifteen minutes of fame!
Before calling it a trip, we spent a day in the Fort Lauderdale area. We went on an airboat tour in the Everglades and had dinner at Skyline Chili, a Cincinnati institution with a few locations in south Florida.
The 2001 trip marked the first baseball trip that utilized digital photography. Click the link below for photos.
Trip number 18 was to the Queen City. No, not San Francisco, but Cincinnati. Cincinnati was chosen as 2002 is the last season for the Reds in Cinergy Field (formerly Riverfront Stadium). The team is scheduled to move to the new Great American Ball Park for the 2003 season.
The Cincinnati trip featured a group of six attendees and, for the first time in several years, did not involve multiple cities and hotels. Three of the attendees had driven to Cincinnati in a van and provided the bulk of local transportation. We had gotten a good deal on rooms at the downtown Westin hotel and this proved to be the nicest hotel utilized for a baseball trip to date.
Sightseeing included the Carew Tower, the Cincinnati Museum Center (which features a scale model of old Crosley Field, former home of the Reds), Holy Cross Immaculata Church, the Newport Aquarium, and a dinner at Pompilio's Italian Restaurant (site of the famous toothpick scene from the movie Rain Man with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman). No trip to Cincinnati is complete without Cincinnati chili. We had dinner one night at Gold Star Chili.
We spent a day at the Kings Island Amusement Park. It was hot, hot, hot but not too crowded (I guess a lot of people were a lot smarter than us and stayed out of the heat) and we had a good time. Kings Island features a number of big time roller coasters, more than other parks we have visited.
We got some fairly lousy seats to the Reds game against the Mets. The reason the game had significant ticket demand was that it was a weekend and this was the Mets' only trip to Cincinnati this season or so we were told.
Click below for photos.
Baseball trip number 19 took our group of nine to San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan? Do they have a team? No, but the Montreal Expos played 22 of their 81 home games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan during the 2003 season.
The trip featured one first time baseball trip attendee, Nolan from Las Vegas, and another, Dan from Kansas City, who had last attended in 1993.
Weather problems in Texas delayed the arrival of three travelers until the second day of the trip, but their arrival was on time to participate in virtually all activities. The first day featured exploration of Old San Juan and a visit to the San Cristobal Fort after which we took a bus to the Rangers - Expos game. After some anxious moments in getting our tickets at the will-call window, we enjoyed the game in Hiram Bithorn Stadium despite the fact that the PA system is arguably the loudest in major league history.
Other activities included tours of Camuy Caves, the Arecibo Observatory and the El Yunque rain forest. After a day at the caves and observatory, we booked a private tour with our tour guide to the rain forest the next day. He was very knowledgeable and personable and didn't cut corners or try to rush us around. After visiting the rain forest, we stopped at a small roadside restaurant for dinner. There was a band playing when we arrived, but as far as I could tell, everyone escaped without suffering broken eardrums. It wasn't clear when we arrived that we would be so lucky. I guess they like their music loud in Puerto Rico.
We enjoyed the Puerto Rican food and found the Puerto Rican people that we met to be very friendly and helpful despite our limitations with the Spanish language. One nice aspect about getting around San Juan is that the city bus fare is just $0.25 and taxis operate on fixed fares so there is no need to worry about an unscrupulous cabbie taking one to a San Juan destination via Ponce.
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The final trip of the second decade of baseball trips sent our group to the "frozen tundra" of Minneapolis/St. Paul, although pretty much everything is thawed in the land of 10,000 lakes by late July. The group of seven baseball trip regulars enjoyed a game between the Boston Red Sox and the homestanding Minnesota Twins at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome which is arguably the worst current major league stadium. To give the Twins' organization credit, they have done a credible job of putting lipstick on this pig, but domes and artificial grass combine to leave the true baseball fan with a sense that something just isn't right.
No trip to MSP would be complete without a trip to the Mall of America. We spent an entire day at the mall. The guys pretty much saw the whole thing while the women only got through about one third of this vast sea of retailing nirvana. To compensate, some of us went back for a few hours on our last day in town before we headed for home.
The baseball experience was enhanced on this trip in a way unlike any of the previous 19 summer excursions when we attended a Northern League game between the St. Paul Saints and the visiting Sioux City Explorers. The next day, while most of the group slept, two of us got up early and participated in a 5k run sponsored by the Saints.
We did some sightseeing in St. Paul, touring the Cathedral of St. Paul and the James J. Hill house. We also visited the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis and the historic Fort Snelling.
A highlight of the trip occurred in our hotel restaurant. When baseball trip veteran, Spot (not to be confused with Chief Wahoo), was dining for the sixth time in two days, a restaurant employee commented that he was spending far too much time in the restaurant and that it was "becoming ridiculous." The dining highlight of the trip was our visit to the original Buca di Beppo in downtown Minneapolis.
All in all, a very nice trip. This trip marked the end of visits to "undesirable" stadiums such as the forgettable Exhibition Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and, probably the most undesirable of all, the Kingdome.
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Trip number 21 took us to the Gateway City, St. Louis, Missouri. We picked one of the hottest weekends of the year with daytime temperatures routinely approaching the 100 degree mark. Add some midwest humidity and it made for a sweaty weekend. Fortunately, most if not all, of the eight attendees were familiar with the concept of deodorant.
The baseball game featured an 11 inning pitchers' duel between the homestanding Cardinals and their hated rivals, the Chicago Cubs, along with some extreme heat. One of the regular attendees felt the effects of the heat and humidity and was forced to spend some time cooling down in the Busch Stadium first aid station.
The group split up to pursue separate activities on this trip more than any other. The St. Louis Metrolink train and cell phones made this possible. The most visible tourist attraction in St. Louis is the Gateway Arch and, being tourists, it was a must-see for our group. Summer crowds are large at the Arch and waits can be fairly long. To kill time, the Museum of Westward Expansion was a good choice.
Several regular bowlers in the group visited the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
For the first time since the 1993 trip to Seattle, this trip included a brewery tour. This time we saw where the king of beers, Budweiser, is brewed as part of a tour of the city. Unfortunately, the tour was less than ideal due to the heat, the fact that the bus was not air-conditioned and due to a driver shortage that resulted in less than ideal arrival frequency at each of the scheduled bus stops.
We took a side trip to Defiance, Missouri and toured the Daniel Boone home. As my wife is a decendant of the Boone family and an officer of the Boone Society, this was of particular interest.
The group enjoyed dining at three of the city's favorite dining locales: Blueberry Hill in The Loop, two restaurants at Laclede's Landing and at Houlihan's in the historic Union Station.
A good time was had by all but it was unanimously agreed that a cooler venue might be desirable for the 2006 baseball trip.
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The twenty-second annual baseball trip was an excursion to the nation's capital, Washington, DC with a side trip to Philadelphia thrown in for good measure. The six attendees were dispersed across four different arrival flights and arrived at our hotel over a period of a couple of hours. We rode the Washington Metro, a very common mode of transportation on this trip, to the Georgetown area for dinner on that first night in town.
The three days in D.C. were filled with sightseeing. We started off with a guided tour of the Capitol, added a tour of the D.A.R. Museum, visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the International Spy Museum. We also took a guided Segway tour in the area around the national mall. That was a lot of fun. Baseball trip regular, Spot, also claimed success as a mountain climber as we conquered Mount Vernon.
Dining ranged from the food court at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall to the Windows Over Washington restaurant.
We attended a game between the Nationals and Chicago Cubs at RFK Stadium. Our seats were, to say the least, not very good. Tucked under the upper deck and behind the press box, the view of the field was limited and the PA system was inaudible. Add high temperatures and humidity and a distinct lack of a breeze, the first few innings were not very comfortable. Eventually we moved to more desirable seats down the first base line. The game was quite exciting as the Nationals ralled from a two run deficit in the bottom of the eighth to claim a 7-6 win.
Since the Phillies were also playing at home, we decided to make a side trip to Philadelphia to see a game at Citizens Bank Park. After a toll-filled drive up I-95, we arrived just in time for lunch. What to have for lunch when you're only going to have one meal in Philadelphia? Why, a cheesesteak of course! The group split up - half ate at Pat's King of Steaks and the other half went across the street to Geno's Steaks. Both groups reported having an excellent meal.
We had time after lunch and before the game to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary. The audio tour of this historic penitentiary proved to be more interesting than anyone had anticipated. It is highly recommended for any visitor to Philadelphia.
We had great seats and a beautiful night for a ballgame as we watched the Atlanta Braves take a 10-8 decision from the homestanding Phillies. The loss dropped the Phillies' all-time record in baseball trip games to 1-6.
The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, the group split up for the trip home. One flew from Philadelphia and the remainder of the group drove back in two cars to Washington. Future baseball trip plans tentatively call for the 2007 trip to return to the west coast, specifically San Diego, and a 2008 trip to the Big Apple, New York City.
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We were back on the west coast for the first time in 11 years for Baseball Trip number 23 when we traveled to San Diego. Four members of the group drove to California. Their vehicles came in handy in providing much of the ground transportation around the area.
The first four of us to arrive used the San Diego Trolley system to do some shopping at the Fashion Valley Mall while we awaited the arrival of the others. We took a break from shopping long enough to have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.
We met up with the others at our hotel, the Omni San Diego, later in the afternoon. A former co-worker, and current San Diego resident, Brian, also stopped by and accompanied us to dinner at Dick's Last Resort. Afterward we walked around the area for a while, stopping at the Hyatt Hotel for a drink and a brief walk through of Seaport Village.
Two of the "must see" attractions in San Diego include the world famous San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. We spent a day at each. We also visited the Maritime Museum.
Of course the highlight of the trip was the baseball game at PETCO Park between the hometown Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies. Coming off a home loss to the Braves during last year's baseball trip, the Phillies played well in a 7-3 win.
Continuing a tradition that started last year, the "fancy dinner," we dined one evening at George's on Fifth. Despite a bill that was equal to the GNP of some third world countries, a good meal and a good time was had by all.
The final full day of the trip featured a drive to Coronado island and a visit to the world famous Hotel Del Coronado followed by dinner at Kansas City Barbeque, site of the bar scene from the 1986 movie Top Gun.
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For the 24th annual baseball trip, our group of seven traveled to New York City where we saw one game in each of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in their final seasons of service to their respective tenants, the Yankees and Mets.
Upon arrival, the first four of us got settled into our home base at the Wellington Hotel and then walked to the Stage Deli for dinner. After eating, we continued the walk south to Times Square where we looked at the bright lights and stopped into the M&Ms World store. It is surprising just how much stuff one can buy with the M&Ms logo on it there. After returning to the hotel, a couple of us went across the street for a beer before calling it a night. While we were out, the remainder of our group, the Greenes, had arrived by car.
We all met on Saturday morning and took the no. 4 subway to Yankee Stadium for the game between the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. The Yankees pushed across a run in the bottom of the 13th inning for a 3-2 win. We rushed back to the hotel after the game in order to get ready for the Broadway show we planned to attend, "The 39 Steps," which was playing at the Cort Theater. We all enjoyed the show and then walked about a block and a half for dinner at A. J. Maxwell's Steakhouse. The volume and cost of the food consumed at this dinner would undoubtedly be shocking to many (including the attendees).
On Sunday, we spent the better part of the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Afterward, we took the subway to Little Italy and had dinner at Ray's (the one on Prince Street, not to be confused with Famous Original Ray's which are all over the city). It was shortly after dinner that we came to realize that mid-August is not a great time to visit New York City. That occurred when we went to the Empire State Building and found that the line to go to the top was an hour and a half long. Why is this? Because of all of the Europeans, taking advantage of favorable exchange rates, that found their way to the most popular tourist sites in the city. It took two subsequent trips to the ESB before some of us made it to the top; it only took about 40 minutes that time.
The group split up on Monday, some visting Staten Island via the Staten Island Ferry and others making the trip (with many Europeans) to the Statue of Liberty after enduring a long delay on the no. 1 subway for reasons unknown to this day.
The group also visited the New York Aquarium at Coney Island and enjoyed lunch at Nathan's Famous, home of the annual 4th of July hotdog eating contest. The final evening of the trip was spent at Shea Stadium enjoying the Mets' 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.
There was much discussion as to the site of next year's trip. Ultimately, it was decided to make Seattle the 2009 destination, with a return to Atlanta for the silver anniversary trip in 2010.
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The first quarter century of baseball trips came to a conclusion in Seattle, Washington. Seven intrepid travelers ventured to the Pacific Northwest to take in the sights of Seattle and surrounding area and also take in a game at Safeco Field.
All parties gathered at the Westin Hotel on Thursday, July 23. After settling into our rooms we ventured out in search of a dining establishment. We enjoyed a nice dinner at Il Fornaio and then went back to the hotel to plan the next day's activities.
Friday morning began with a short walk north to Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast. The day included a tour of the Seattle Underground and a trip to the Museum of Flight before we attended the game between the visiting Cleveland Indians and the home town Mariners. The Indians made most of the crowd feel like General Custer in posting a 9-0 shutout victory. We took the newly opened light rail line back to the hotel after the game.
On Saturday, we had breakfast in the restaurant in the nearby Nordstrom's department store. After that, the women in the group did a little shopping at the Pacific Place Mall next door. The men took a walk down to the waterfront where we purchased tickets for afternoon and evening activities. We then took a longer than expected walk down to the Police Museum which was almost all the way to Safeco Field. We took a bus back to the hotel afterward, met up with the ladies, went to lunch at Gordon Biersch in the mall and then took a pair of cabs to the Kenmore Air terminal for a seaplane tour. We had some time to kill before our flight so we stopped at McCormick and Schmick's for a drink.
We took about a 30 minute air tour of the Seattle area departing from Lake Union and later that evening went on a dinner cruise on the Puget Sound by Argosy Cruises. The food was excellent and they had a band that played throughout the 2 1/2 cruise. Four members of the group took a cab back to the hotel while the remaining three walked. Surprisingly, we all arrived at the same time due to traffic tie-ups caused by a downtown parade.
Sunday started earlier than usual when we took a bus tour to Everett, Washington and a tour of the Boeing assembly plant. The plant is the largest building in the world measured by volume. It was very interesting. We also spent some time at the "Future of Flight" display in the visitor's center before the bus took us back to Seattle. Some of the group then took the monorail to the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. We capped off the trip by having dinner at the Sky City restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. The food and service were both great. We spent a short time on the observation deck before calling it a night.
Several members of the group got off to an early start on Monday morning. Those of us that remained went back to Top Pot for breakfast and then took the train to the airport. Next year's 25th anniversary baseball trip will be to the site of the first - Atlanta, Georgia.
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For the 25th anniversary baseball trip, we returned to the city where it all began, Atlanta. Two of the regular attendees arrived in Atlanta in their RV after a multi-day, scenic tour of the southeastern United States. Another also took a scenic tour, but it was limited to the 7 1/2 hour drive from Baton Rough, LA. The rest of us flew in to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and took the MARTA to within a few blocks of the Marriott Courtyard hotel. We spent a few minutes experiencing the summer heat and humidity on the walk to the hotel. While waiting for everyone to arrive, we visited for a while in the hotel lobby and then took the hotel shuttle to the Pasta da Pulcinella restaurant where we had a very nice dinner.
The first full day began with breakfast at the nearby Silver Skillet diner. Established in 1956, the Silver Skillet had been featured in numerous television and movie productions and was also featured in an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on the Food Network. Those of us that stayed at the Marriott had breakfast there all four mornings. We spent most of the afternoon at the World of Coca-Cola. One highlight was in the tasting room where several of us got our first taste of "Beverly" a drink that Coke sells in Italy. We had a late lunch at Legal Seafood and then walked to the CNN Center where we took a studio tour. A thunderstorm struck the city as we were ready to leave so we went into the bar of the attached Omni Hotel and had a drink while waiting for the rain to blow through. When the rain stopped, we walked the few blocks to the cars and drove to Turner Field where we enjoyed the Giants-Braves game albeit after an hour and 45 minute rain delay and a ceremony to retire former Brave pitcher Tom Glavin's number (47). The Giants won 3-2 in eleven innnings in a game that ended at 12:30 a.m.
Day two got off to a slow start but eventually we all met at the Georgia Aquarium where we battled crowds and strollers while looking at fish. We then returned to the Omni Hotel bar where we relaxed and had a couple of drinks before going to dinner at the Colonnade Restaurant. The Colonnade is also an Atlanta landmark that has been operating since 1927. We had a great meal of southern home cooking before calling it a night and returning to the hotel.
After breakfast, those of us staying at the hotel drove out to Stone Mountain where we met up with our RV friends. We took the tram to the top of Stone Mountain and then spent most of the rest of the day at Stone Mountain Park. We took a train ride, toured the plantation and spent some time viewing the displays and museum in Memorial Hall. After returning to the hotel and changing clothes, we drove downtown to the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel and had dinner at the Sundial Restaurant; the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel. We had visited the bar in the Peachtree Plaza for a couple of revolutions 25 years ago but no one that was in attendance on that 1985 trip could recall how much had changed in that time. We had a very nice dinner and then returned to the hotel.
Those taking the roads home got off to an early start while the rest of us had breakfast and then took the hotel shuttle to the MARTA station and then the train to the airport where we said our goodbyes and flew away. The 2011 baseball trip was tentatively set for Milwaukee.
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One of the goals of the 27th annual baseball trip was to find a climate that was cooler and less humid than experienced on the 2010 trip to Atlanta. Milwaukee sounded like a good choice, but unfortunately, the heat and humidity followed our intrepid group all the way to Wisconsin. Undaunted, we had an excellent time nonetheless.
We immersed ourselves in the local customs which generally involved cheese curds, brats and beer. We partook at a number of local establishments including the Milwaukee Brat House, the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, Cubanitas, Grand Cafe Centraal, the Pasta Tree and also the Sprecher Brewery.
We spent an enjoyable evening at Miller Park watching the Brewers shutout the Houston Astros, 4-0. The following day, we headed north to the frozen tundra and toured legendary Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame. We diverted on the return trip to Milwaukee and spent the afternoon attending the EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh. The heat, humidity and an impending thunderstorm caused us to cut that short, but that gave us a chance to take a quick run-through of the EAA Museum.
We toured both the Harley-Davidson Museum and the Pabst Mansion and also stopped for some photos by the "Bronze Fonz" statue. While waiting for our flights home, part of the group went through the Mitchell Gallery of Flight at the Milwaukee Mitchell Airport.
We will definitely avoid the heat and humidity for next year's trip. Tentative plans are to go to Phoenix where the heat is a dry heat.
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In order to avoid the summer heat in the Valley of the Sun, we moved the 28th annual baseball trip up from the traditional July/August timeframe to April. Unfortunately, the weather in Phoenix is unpredictable just as it is pretty much everywhere and we were treated to unseasonably warm daytime temperatures including one day of 105 degrees. Fortunately, we didn't have a lot of activities scheduled that called for prolonged exposure to the sun so the group came out of the experience none the worse for wear.
The first arrivals set foot at the Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel Tempe on Thursday afternoon, April 19. Unfortunately, our final participant was held up due to airline mechanical problems and didn't arrive until early the next morning. The group of eight (and sometimes nine as one of the group had a sister living in the area that joined us a couple of times) had a full schedule of activities.
In addition to attending a Braves-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field, we visited the Arizona State Capitol building and the museum therein, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Wrigley Mansion, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's fomer home/studio Taliesen West and the Musical Instrument Museum.
As usual, we enjoyed a varied set of dining options including Alice Cooperstown (although no one decided to tackle a "big unit"), Geordie's Restaurant at the Wrigley Mansion, Daily Dose, Poma Pizzaria and perhaps the most interesting dining experience of any of the baseball trips, Posh. Each attendee marked a "menu" with the items that he/she did not want and then the chefs prepared a unique multi-course meal for each person. Dishes ranged from goose eggs to kangaroo. All had a good time.
After a 15 year absence, the group will return to the Steel City in 2013 and visit PNC Park, arguably the nicest major league ballpark in use today.
Taking advantage of the long Fourth of July weekend, the 2013 baseball trip spanned Wednesday to Sunday rather than the usual Thursday-Monday schedule. Six participants gathered at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport on the evening of July 3 with activities kicking off in ernest the next day.
Thursday started with breakfast at Eggs N'at, a little hole-in-the-wall breakfast place in Moon Twp, PA followed by a trip downtown to PNC Park for the Pirates-Phillies game. The Phillies sent the fans home sad with a 6-4 victory. After the game the group returned to the hotel to rest and change clothes for the annual "fancy dinner" at Bella Vista Ristorante Italiano in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh. Unfortunately and unbeknownist to the participants, it seems that the majority of the populace of Pittsburgh heads up to Mt. Washington on the Fourth of July in order to view the fireworks display from a higher vantage point. This led to severely congested streets and a severe lack of parking spaces. Those problems were overcome and dinner was fabulous as were the fireworks.
Continuing last year's Frank Lloyd Wright theme, the group ventured to Mill Run, PA and toured "Fallingwater." This is a must see for anyone with some extra time while visiting the Pittsburgh area. Other activites included a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum and the Tour-Ed Coal Mine. Lunch one day at Mullen's Bar and Grill was less than spectacular although one member of the group can certainly attest to the veracity of their "Dante's Inferno" wing sauce. No trip to Pittsburgh would be complete without a visit to Kennywood, the 115 year old Pittsburgh landmark amusement park, and this trip was no exception. Two attendees headed for home early but the remaining four spent the final day in the Steel City at the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History before taking to the skies for points west and south.
The 30th annual baseball trip has been tentatively planned to be the first off the North American continent. The first two games of the 2014 regular season will match the Arizona Diamondbacks versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Austrailia.
The 30th annual baseball trip took baseball trips to a new level. A group of six intrepid travelers ventured off-shore and into the southern hemisphere for two weeks in Australia. We watched the first major league baseball game to be played in Australia in 100 years as the Los Angeles Dodgers met the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two game "Opening Series" at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
Before taking in the baseball game the group first met up in the tropical city of Cairns followed by a couple of days at Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the Northern Territory. In Cairns, the highlight was an excursion to Port Douglas and then to the Great Barrier Reef. The group had dinner at Barancle Bill's after returning to Cairns from the reef.
Early the next morning, the group flew Qantas Airlines to Ayers Rock. After checking into the Desert Gardens Hotel at the Ayers Rock Resort, getting settled in, doing some exploring and shopping, the group enjoyed the "Sounds of Silence" dinner under the stars in the desert not far from the resort. A surprise visitor at the dinner was a real, wild Australian dingo. Fortunately, the dingo didn't eat anyone's baby.
An excursion to Mt. Conner was on tap the following day. The excursion included two stops at Curtin Springs; the second of which included dinner at the Wayside Inn.
The group boarded a Jetstar flight for the trip to Sydney the next afternoon and took a bus to Randwick where we stayed in a rental apartment. After settling in, the group had dinner at Isabella's. Isabella's was good and was good again the next morning for breakfast. However, the next day, things took a turn for the worse when the wait staff intentionally avoided our party. Were they disappointed by the lack of generous tips from the American visitors on the two previous visits? Tipping is not expected in Australia and we were certainly not going to attempt to change the culture. No matter, there were plenty of other places to eat in the Sydney area.
The skies appeared theatening on our first evening in Sydney as we made our way to the Sydney Cricket Ground. Fortunately, the rain only delay the start of the game a few minutes before the SCG became the oldest stadium to host major league baseball with one section of stands, the "Member's Pavilion," having been built in 1886. The crowd was buzzing before the game and lines were long at the merchandise stands as well as the food stands. One of the popular items was the 24" "superdog" hotdog that was being offered for the bargain basement price of $40 AUD ($36 USD). The game was a pitchers' duel for the most part and the Dodgers opened the 2014 season with a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
Other activities in Sydney included a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a visit to the Museum of Sydney, a trip up the Sydney Tower, a ferry ride to Manly and another to visit the Australian Maritime Museum. Two members of the group visited the St. Mary's Cathedral and the guys climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We had a great dinner at the Searock Grill on our last night in Sydney.
After Sydney, it was on to Melbourne. The highlights of the time in Melbourne were the excursion along the Great Ocean Road and the Australian Rules Football game between Richmond and Carlton at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Richmond rallied for a 98-86 win after Carlton had completed a spirited comeback to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. The group also ventured to the historic Queen Victoria Market and the 88 story Eureka Skydeck, visited the National Gallery of Victoria and toured the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail). Several members of the group also made jewelry purchases at the Lightning Ridge Opal Mines showroom. The group made multiple stops at both the Turf Sports Bar and the Celtic Club.
All in all, trip no. 30 will be hard to beat. The Mile High city of Denver was tentatively selected as the site of the 2015 baseball trip although it is rumored that the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A's might open the season in Taiwan ...
The fourth decade of baseball trips started with a trip to the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. A group of eight travelers and one local resident attended one or more of the events and activities. The home base for the group was the Hotel Teatro in downtown Denver. While advertised as a five-star hotel, the size of the rooms suggested fewer stars.
Sampling Denver's breakfast scene was pretty much an every day occurence. Visits were made to Sam's No. 3, Syrup and Snooze an AM Eatery. However, the best meal of the trip was the Sunday brunch at the world famous Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The hour and a half drive was definitely worth it as the full complement of nine baseball trippers binged on some or all of the 150 items on the buffet. It definitely lived up to expectations.
While in Colorado Springs, it only made sense to visit the Garden of the Gods and then venture to the summit of Pikes Peak. The white knuckle drive was definitely worth it as the views from 14,000 feet were spectacular.
It wouldn't be a baseball trip without baseball so the group attended a game at Coors Field between the visiting Cincinnati Reds and the home standing Colorado Rockies. In his last appearance for the Reds before being traded the following day, Johnny Cueto was masterful in shutting out the Rockies for eight innings in the Reds' 5-2 victory.
Other activities included in the four day excursion included visits to Comedy Works, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Molly Brown House, Echo Lake, the Buffalo Bill Museum and beautiful downtown, Golden, Colorado (the wait for the tour to the Coors Brewery was too long). Part of the group also went to the Money Museum in the Federal Reserve Bank of Denver.
There were preliminary discussions about the site of baseball trip no. 32 in 2016 with Miami being the concensus destination.
The six travelers on Baseball Trip no. 32 ventured to the land of sun and sand in Miami Beach, Florida. The group set up a home base at the Room Mate Waldorf Towers hotel on Ocean Drive in South Beach. This was the perfect location for people watching but not for parking.
The first arrivals enjoyed dinner and drinks in the PrimeTime cafe just outside the front door of the hotel. The cafe provided a prime location for watching the endless parade of the "fashionably dressed." The last arrivals arrived well after the first group had called it a day.
The group spent a fair amount of time sampling the Miami and Miami Beach culinary offerings, enjoying breakfasts at the News Cafe, the 11th Street Diner and the Pelican Hotel., lunch at Bavaria Haus and a couple of wonderful dinners at Fratelli Milano and the world famous Joe's Stone Crab.
The group visited the Perez Art Museum, the Wolfsonian Museum, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Everglades Holiday Park and took in a game between the Braves and Marlins at Marlins Park.
After a 29 year haitus, the group will return to the City by the Bay, San Francisco, for the 2017 baseball trip.
Seven travelers gathered in San Francisco, California for the 33rd annual baseball trip over the Labor Day weekend. The early arrivals checked into the Intercontinental San Francisco hotel and then enjoyed dinner at the Chieftain Irish Pub. The action really got underway the next day with a tours of Angel Island and Alcatraz. Fortunately the day was mostly spent in cooler weather on the Bay as San Francisco suffered through a record high temperature of 106 degrees.
Other activities included baseball games between the Giants and Cardinals at AT&T Park and between the A's and Angels at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, a trip to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and a wine tour of the Napa Valley. The wine tour included stops at the Nicholson Ranch, Madonna Estate and Sutter Home wineries.
Transportation around the city was largely accomplished either by walking or ride sharing via Lyft. This proved to be a far better solution than driving around San Francisco and seeking hard-to-find expensive parking. Several members of the group also experienced a cut-rate ride provided by a free lance ride share operator.
No baseball trip would be complete without some fine dining which ranged from Mel's Drive-In to Boulevard. Meals were also enjoyed at 54 Mint and Fang along with a nice lunch at Hurley's in Yountville, CA during the wine country tour.
After another 29 year haitus, the group is planning to head up to Boston for some clam chowder for the 2018 baseball trip.
Eight travelers ventured to Boston, Massachusetts for baseball trip no. 34. Our home base for this trip was the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill hotel. The first day featured a walk around the Boston Common, a stop at Harvard Gardens for some refreshment and dinner at the historic Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the United States.
The group visited the New England Aquarium and went on a whale watching tour, went on a tour of Martha's Vineyard and took in a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning but eventually succumbed to the powerful Red Sox by a score of 7-3. It was fun to visit historic Fenway Park although our seats did not provide a perfect view of the game.
We used foot power and Lyft and Uber for our transportation needs around the city. Boston is a walkable city but sometimes the walks were just a bit too far.
Dining stops included The Paramount, which was packed and appeared to be chaotic but was strangely well organized, and the Hill Tavern.
Other activities included a visit to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, a tour of the Harrison Gray Otis house and our traditional "fancy dinner" which was held at the Atlantic Fish Company restaurant. While a few of the attendees headed for home early on the final day, the remainder of the group took an Old Town Trolley tour and, following lunch at Fiore's in the North End, visited the historic Old North Church.
The group plans to travel overseas for the second time for baseball trip no. 35 as we head to London, England to see a pair of games between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees which are scheduled for London Stadium. A side trip to Liverpool is also planned.