By Douglas Farmer —
When my father sees my itinerary for a 10-day road trip west this summer, he will not be surprised I plan to go out of my way to stop in San Diego. He will fully expect me to spend a night in Denver. Giving up a Sunday in Los Angeles to trek out to Anaheim will stay in line with the theme.
He will not, however, understand why I arrive in the City of Angels early on a Thursday to see a Dodgers game.
I have been to 23 Major League parks to date, and Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine is one of them. If my 4,000-mile trip’s nominal intention is to boost my count closer to my father’s 29 ballparks visited, why would I retread past ground?
A day at one of the country’s best ballparks, one with arguably the second- or third-best view in the league, is reason enough, even if it will cost me a fourth new ballpark on the trip, as catching the Dodgers will prohibit a tangent to Phoenix to see Chase Field and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
That prioritization will assure my father keeps at least some of his lead for another season, though I may help my cause by arriving late to a June rehearsal dinner thanks to an afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. No one will notice a tardy groomsman, right?
Both my father and I make these little side journeys almost every chance we get. As much as my father undoubtedly loves my uncle, it is his brother’s proximity to Florida ballparks that will lead to their next visit.
Diligence is required, after all. This is an endless pursuit. The Atlanta Braves moved into a new home this season after using Turner Field for only 20 years. Indisputably, that was a civic disservice, but it goes to show how quickly and how often new stadiums replace old.
There are only 30 Major League Baseball teams, and I have been to 23 ballparks, yet there are currently 14 active stadiums I have not seen games in. That math may seem dubious, but I can thank the likes of the New York Yankees, their counterparts in Queens and the Philadelphia Phillies for upping my tally with new stadiums after I had already made it to their predecessors. My father, meanwhile, has made it to three stadiums housing the Minnesota Twins, enjoying Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington long before the Metrodome preceded Target Field. Such are the benefits afforded by his four-decade head start.
This pursuit is not the vice of baseball fanatics. In fact, it results from the exact opposite. If we did not chase these stadiums, neither my father nor I would necessarily make it to a game most years. Yet, we each know we would miss the hot dog, the bag of peanuts and the scorecard.
Thus, we stopped in Atlanta on a drive northward two years ago and prolonged our 23-hour drive by a full day to catch a game at Turner Field before its demise. That evening neither stretched his lead nor helped me gain ground. It did, however, include hot dogs, peanuts and a scorecard.
So will that Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles, though my father will not be joining me that evening. I have recruited an unsuspecting accomplice to join me in front of that mountain vista. That way, my father will not make it to San Diego, Denver and Anaheim, as well. I need to narrow that lead.
Douglas Farmer grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, before covering sports
across the country with stops at The Los Angeles Times, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Dallas Morning News. He graduated from Aquinas High School in 2008 and from the University of Notre Dame in 2012, and now spends his professional time keeping an eye on the latter’s football team.