I’m wrapping this week up with a wonderful post by Aaron from The Confusing Middle about his most interesting travel story. Sometimes, it’s not about where you’re going or what you’re doing, but to appreciate all of life’s experiences.
An interesting travel story, huh? It’s actually the kind of trip that may not be that interesting to some people. Because it involves a lot of baseball.
I almost feel like the sport of baseball can be a polarizing topic. Most of the people I’ve encountered in my life either love the game or hate it. Those who hate it will talk about how boring it is. I’ll concede that. At times, baseball can be a very boring game. I mean, the outfielders just stand out there for hours waiting for a ball to get hit toward them.
But if you’ve been to a game, you know how much fun it can be. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be about the game. It doesn’t have to be who scored the most runs or who pitched a no-hitter (though, I’m pretty sure anyone would consider that wicked exciting). It can be about the people you’re with.
I’m not a huge sports fan. I don’t watch ESPN every time there’s a new episode of SportsCenter. I don’t memorize statistics. I don’t know who plays for what team. I even miss out on some of the big names sometimes. But I love going to a game. Because I love to watch people and I love to interact with my friends while we cheer for our favorite teams.
Back in the summer of 2001, I was presented with the opportunity to take a five day trip up the east coast. During those five days, I would be stopping to see five Major League baseball games. It was intense.
The whole thing started out as a trip for four people and I was not one of them. My roommate and his girlfriend were supposed to go along with the residence hall director and his wife. But then my roommate had to drop out for some reason, and since he wasn’t going, neither was his girlfriend. So that left two tickets to each of five games and two empty seats in the back of the RHD’s car. The roommate suggested that I go. But who to take with me?
It really didn’t take much consideration on my part. I knew I wanted to take my dad.
The plan was to start in Roanoke, Virginia (where we lived), drive up to Baltimore, then continue on to New Jersey, where we would stay with friends for a few nights while we hit a few games in that region. On the way back to Virginia, we would stop in Philadelphia. Since Dad was a lifelong Yankees fan, I knew I had to take him with me. Neither of us had ever been to Yankee Stadium before, so this was going to be the trip of a lifetime.
He was excited, even though he had never met my RHD or his wife before. Neither of us was sure what to expect from this trip. But five games in five days was too good to pass up.
Dad had had a rough couple of years prior to this. Early in 1998, during my senior year of high school, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery. Three years later, he had healed from the surgery, but his activity level was not that high. By the time we hit our second day of the trip, I began to wonder if it was too much for him.
Our first stop at Camden Yards to see the Orioles play was no problem for him. We parked, we walked into the stadium, we watched a game, and that was that. Day two took us into New York City, where we did quite a bit more walking than had been required in Baltimore. We did get to see the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building before taking a train over to Queens for the Mets game, but it was very tiring for Dad.
Day three was the big one for Dad. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean, that’s when we got to see the Yankees. It was a night game and our seats weren’t that great, but Dad was like a little kid watching his favorite team live for the first time.
On day four we drove to Boston to watch the Red Sox play the Devil Rays at Fenway. Dad made sure to stash his Yankees hat during that part of the trip. A wise decision, I’m sure. After all, throughout the game we heard several fans shouting that the Yankees sucked. Seemed random to me, but I’m sure it makes total sense to a Sox fan.
The last day saw us passing through Philadelphia to catch a Phillies game before heading back to the Commonwealth of Virginia. I actually would have liked to have done more in the City of Brotherly Love, but time was somewhat limited after the game. So I’ve still never seen the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall. Someday.
I lost Dad 10 years ago. I look back on that baseball trip as probably the best trip I’ve ever taken. I remember him telling me that he felt the same way about it. It wasn’t about seeing five baseball games. It wasn’t about going to Yankee Stadium. It was about spending five days hanging out with my dad.