By Eric Cain / @_Cainer
Everyone has hobbies outside of work or school. Mine is just a tad bit pricey.
After I graduated college in the spring of 2015, my dad and I went on a baseball road trip. In eight days we travelled to seven ballparks that spanned from Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
It was a whole lot of fun and I began to gain a true appreciation for the history and structure of the game.
Two years and an MBA graduation later, I ventured back to New York for the second time and then trained to Boston. I sat 11 rows behind home plate inside the iconic Fenway Park and caught batting practice home runs atop the Green Monster during pregame.
Having knocked out 11 ballparks by the age of 24, I made it a goal to try and see them all during my lifetime. After my latest venture in June, the number has climbed to 14 and I’ve already began mapping out my next trip.
If you’re a baseball junkie like me who loves travelling across the country to different ballparks – you’ll enjoy this. If not, maybe you’ll stop by one on your next vacation. This is the tale of my latest trek.
Coors Field (Denver, Co.)
When I played football at Carson-Newman, we flew out to Denver to take on the Colorado School of Mines (joke all you want, but those aspiring engineers could play some ball) in the Boulder/Golden area just outside of the city. We won, by the way.
While there, we were able to tour Sports Authority Field – home of the Denver Broncos – but didn’t get to see Coors Field. So, I knew I wanted to go back.
Coors Field had an awesome atmosphere and was probably the best part of the trip. People love baseball up there. The Sunday afternoon game I attended, 46,000+ people packed the stands to see the series finale against the Padres.
Since Denver it elevated, the theme of the city (that I took at least) was rooftop everything. There were rooftop bars and restaurants everywhere and that extended into the ballpark. I watched a good portion of the game from the Mile High Club way above the centerfield fence.
The ballpark was built for the ’95 season, so it was up-to-date and had a lot of neat features. The game was high scoring and very entertaining. In fact, the series between the Rockies & Padres set a Major League Baseball record for most runs scored in a four-game set.
I guess that’s not hard to do with the likes of Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Nolen Arenado and Daniel Murphy slugging for the Rockies and the $300 million dollar man himself, Manny Machado, wreaking havoc for the Padres.
Denver was great and I’ll be back.
T-Mobile Park (Seattle, Wash.)
Obviously, the Royals and Mariners were not the highlight of my trip. Talk about some bad baseball teams (sorry if you’re a fan, but you get what I’m saying). But, it was great to see a park that has a lot of history despite not being very old.
T-Mobile Park, formerly Safeco Field, opened its gates in ’99 and was the home site for a Major League tying record of 116 wins during the 2001 season – fittingly, the same season it hosted the All-Star game. It’s been the home to the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro, Jamie Moyer, etc.
Aside from the fantastic season of ’01, T-Mobile Park has only boasted two playoff teams. I really don’t see how that’s possible with the talent those Mariners’ teams had in the early 2000s. Still, it was an awesome park – with a retractable roof – huge park, ready for a winning team.
Great in-game entertainment. Fans even joined in on a game that we play during The Starting Lineup’s ‘The Game’ feature (shameless plug: every morning at 8:05am) called ‘cliffhanger.’ The scoreboard was sweet, the views were awesome. Just a LOT of empty seats.
Like Baltimore, the MLB and NFL franchises neighbor each other as I was able to walk over to CenturyLink Field to check it out a little bit. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back in Seattle again, so I was for sure going up in the Space Needle. It’s something you must do (obviously) if you’re ever in the city. Really a remarkable view and the timeline of the building history on the way up was on count.
I also went to the huge fresh market on the coast. So many shops, so much food. It’s a must stop when in Seattle. And I can’t forget. MOUNT RAINIER. Peep this beauty (from over 10,000 ft up above the clouds) down below. And for those wondering, the two days I was in Seattle: one day sunny, one day overcast.
Target Field (Minneapolis, Minn.)
One of the newer ballparks Major League Baseball has to offer is Target Field of the Twins. I was very impressed by the cohesiveness of the stadium – meaning the design of the tops of the dugout went with the walls spanning the decks. The concourse theme was consistent throughout. Only being a little over nine years old, the park was clean and provided a fantastic experience.
It also didn’t hurt that the Red Sox were in town – a fanbase that, deservingly so, has a reputation for travelling well. Even though the Twins are the story of baseball this season with the game’s best record thanks to all-star starter Jorge Polanco and C.J. Cron, Nelson Cruz and more, I was happy to see Boston.
Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi. I mean, this team broke an organizational record last season with 108 regular season wins on its way to a World Series championship. They were fun to watch and even though this year hasn’t been up to the standard, the team is still must-watch TV.
The game was not a disappointment, and neither was the turnout. I mean, Minnesota does have the best record in the American League.
Outside of the ballpark – not much going on in Minneapolis. I walked past U.S. Bank Stadium and went into the Mall of America, but that’s about it though. However, the Mall of America, which was home to this year’s Super Bowl Radio Row, is a must-see if you’re in the city. It has four stories filled with endless shops (females), an amusement park (kids) and bars (men). Fun for the entire family!
When travelling across country, I’d recommend flying – obviously. Outside of one crappy (cheap) airline that will go unmentioned, I ran into minimal problems throughout the trip. The biggest hold up was on my commute back (thankfully) being stuck in the Charlotte airport for a little over five hours waiting on my ride back to Knoxville.
My route went as such: Knoxville-to-Denver, Denver-to-Seattle, Seattle-to-Minneapolis, Minneapolis-to-Charlotte and finally Charlotte-to-Knoxville.
Another thing about travelling in cities (bigger cities) that I encourage you to look into – don’t settle on ubering. Yes, I ubered all over the place that week of travelling, but any chance I had, I jumped on a subway, a train or a trolley. Get the experience of the city. Talk to different people and ask many questions. You never know if you’ll ever be back there!
Also, if you’re young or an active person in general – these types of trips are made for walking. We walked all over these cities to get a firsthand experience of the city life. I mean, you’ll be walking around the ballparks anyway. Great exercise and you won’t feel as bad about all the money you’ve been spending on meals throughout the week.
These are the parks I’ve been to so far. Still a ways to go: (14) – 13 active
Turner Field (former Braves Stadium)
Suntrust Park (Braves)
Nationals Stadium (Nationals)
Camden Yards (Orioles)
Citi Field (Mets)
New Yankee Stadium (Yankees)
PNC Park (Pirates)
Progressive Field (Indians)
Great American Ballpark (Reds)
Wrigley Field (Cubs)
Fenway Park (Red Sox)
Coors Field (Rockies)
T-Mobile Park (Mariners)
Target Field (Twins)
Check out my personal podcast – Producing The Facts Podcast – where I give even more detail on my trip. Subscribe and rate on Apple Podcast, TuneIn and SoundCloud!