Monday, July 29, 2019

Summer Baseball Trip 2019

It had been a few years since I last planned and took a summer baseball trip. I decided to give it another go and I'm glad I did.

Day 1: I was planning on catching the Angels game in Anaheim, and I started my morning in Peoria's airport at 8am. I was scheduled to land in Los Angeles at 3pm local time, which would have been plenty of time to check-in to my hotel and get to the game by the 7pm start.
I'll save you all the gory details, but let's just say it was an ominous start to my trip and I didn't land in Los Angeles until just before midnight. The picture above is the dark beer that helped soothe my anger while being laid over at DFW.

Day 2: The previous day was get-away-day for the Angels, so I missed out on seeing Trout and Ohtani. Bummer. But, I was able to snag the last spot in the last tour of the day at Angel Stadium.
On my way there I stopped at Average Joe's card shop and killed an hour talking baseball with the owners and shuffling through cards.
My best find was a Jason Heyward relic for $2. My Cubs World Series project gains another card. (I'm trying to acquire an auto or relic of every player from the 2016 Cubs roster.)

I enjoyed the tour of the Angels' ballpark. Here's a pretty decent selfie of me in their dugout.
After the tour I made a beeline for Dodger Stadium and was able to secure a Dodger Dog and a mango beer before first pitch.
The picture above is the view from my seat and the beer . . . it wasn't blue, but the plastic cup turns blue when a cool liquid hits it. Fun-fun. For the record the Dodgers beat the Marlins 2-1.

Day 3: This was a travel day for me as I left from LAX and landed in Seattle. My good friend Jeff and his wife, Nichole, relocated to the Emerald City within the last year. I wasn't going to miss out on an opportunity to visit them, especially with so much for me to do in the area!

Day 4: Jeff and I made the short drive up to Everett to watch the rookie level AquaSox play.
Outside the ballpark we found this landmark on the sidewalk.
The Kid's first home run, huh?  Very cool.

We scored two free tickets, right behind the scouts and their radar guns, in the shade thanks to Adam.
One of my former students and players is interning with the AuquaSox for the summer and he earns 9 semester hours of credit toward his degree for doing so. Adam, pictured above, is largely responsible for me getting off my butt and applying for my summer job with the Peoria Chiefs. He's got a great head on his shoulders and has a tremendous work ethic. The kid will go far.
I had to show a photo of the field. One thing to note is everything is turf except for the pitcher's and batter's circle. Secondly, it doubles as the local high school's field during the school season. Lastly, the dimensions are ridiculous, even for a field that is also used for prep ball. It is 357 feet to dead center, 390 feet to the left of center and only 330 feet to the right center field power alley. There's a twenty foot wall out there, but routine fly balls are tagged for dingers if you can go that way. Crazy.
For what it's worth, the AuquaSox lost 5-4 to the Spokane Indians and two fly balls found their way over the wall in right center.

Day 4: To the Mariners' game!
Here's me trying on one of the game-used Seattle Pilots jerseys. It was very, very cool of the staff to allow me to do this. The price is a cool $400 . . . so I was very careful when handling the jersey!

The Mariner Moose was bored, as all the kids had seemingly already visited. Moose are my favorite animals and I adore mascots. So, I had to.
I was able to wiggle my way down next to the Mariners' dugout before game time. (My seat was in the outfield.) I was hoping to get an in-person auto of my man-crush, and I also had some custom cards I wanted to pass on to him.
I struck out, but it was really cool to see him sign for so many kids. When game time was approaching he would check the dugout and then sign another item for a young fan. He probably did this six times before he decided he better get moving.
The picture above is of the Vogelmonster running back to the dugout right before the team was to take the field. He was the designated hitter so at least he didn't have to go find his glove and run out to first base! Honestly, he's probably moving faster here than any of the times he "sprinted" during warm-ups.

For dinner I tested the Vogey Hoagie. I think mine had been sitting under a heat lamp for an inning or two, but it was a pretty good and I'd love a crack at a fresh one!
In case you're keeping track, the Mariners beat the Rangers 7-3.

Day 5: I actually did something non-baseball related. At the suggestion of my father I toured the Boeing manufacturing plant in Everett. From what they told me it's the largest building on the planet. I was impressed.
They don't allow pictures during the tour or inside the plant, so here's a snapshot of the tourist center.

I stopped at another card shop on my way back to Jeff and Nichole's place. The owner was busy talking up some customers so I started flipping through a couple of the numerous monster boxes while pulling some cards I was interested in purchasing.
After the other customers left he came over and said he doesn't allow customers to handle the cards in the boxes, which were stacked everywhere. I guess I was only supposed to look at the cards in the three cases in the store.
We had a curt exchange and things were quickly smoothed over and I felt comfortable enough to ask if he had any singles for my 1979 Topps set build. His response was that I needed to go to Facebook, list the cards I needed, and then he'd pull them and have them ready for me the next time I come in. What in the world?
I did walk away from this store with a handful of cards.
I saw the Rizzuto card pictured above and swapped the owner four Vogelbach cards for it. This one will proudly be placed in my HOF binder. I can't remember the last time I made an in-person trade. Thankfully I brought some of my Voeglmonster duplicates with me thinking they might have some value in the Seattle area. I was right!

Day 6: Guess who went to another Mariners game?
This time I sat in the upper deck and kept score and I'm glad I did!
Post Game Interview on the Jumbotron
The Vogelmonster was the Player of the Game after swatting two solo homers and helping the M's to a 5-3 win over the Rangers. It was a GLORIOUS game!

Day 7: Ugh, more travel back to P-town.

Day 8: Brother-sister sibling's roadtrip to Des Moines to catch the Iowa Cubs.
We stopped at two different card shops on the way and I was able to find the last "pricey" card for my '79 Topps set build at the first LCS.
At the last card shop I walked away with this beauty!
Before the I-Cubs game I treated my sister to Fong's pizza. Pictured below is their famous crab-rangoon pizza. Deliciousness!
Here's a picture of my sister, myself, and Jose. Jose is the father of one of my co-workers.
Before the game I tried to purchase tickets and was surprised to find they were sold out. I was told we might have a chance to buy standing room only tickets after the game started. Ugh. Then up walks Jose, who I completely forgot was working in the area. He had his company's four season tickets and was going to give back two of them because a pair of his buddies bailed on him. Well, you can see how that worked out! What a stroke of serendipity! The I-Cubs lost 10-8 to Round Rock.

Summary: I visited five different ballparks and watched five games. I was able to stay with friends and hang with my sister. The tour of the Boeing plant was a nice change of pace, but I dare say I enjoyed the four card shops more. The food was grand and I enjoyed some nice adult craft beverages I don't have access to here in P-town. I even went for a couple of hikes in the Seattle area and a couple of runs.
It may not have started off the way I wanted it to, but it was a great trip overall.
I'm already thinking about next summer. I only have five MLB venues left to cross off my list before I've seen them all: Marlins, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and the new Rangers ballpark. 

Thanks for reading!


  1. Looks like you had a great roadtrip. I'd love to meet my favorite player alive with his new team too.


  2. Sounds like a fun trip! It's funny that you mentioned the no pictures in the Boeing plant, because along time ago I had a friend who's uncle almost got into a fight with Boeing security after taking a picture that he didn't know he wasn't supposed to in the plant -- he was hothead, so even though nothing ended up happening, his initial reaction to their actions apparently made things a little more tense for a couple of minutes.

    Oh, and a '54 Rizzuto for a couple of Vogelbach's?!?!

  3. What an incredible trip! I envy you for doing something like this, and hopefully I can too one day.

    That was a very weird exchange from the owner, but cool you came away with that Rizzuto.

  4. Outside of the DFW delay... it sounds like an awesome trip. I took the Boeing tour with my dad a few years ago and we loved it, but was bummed that we didn't get to go to a Mariners game. Next time you're in Southern California, you should try to go to Frank & Son's. I haven't been there in a few years... but it was fun checking out all of the collectibles.

  5. I miss dodger dogs! great trip. I've not done a multi-park trip before, but will likely do a Detroit-Cleveland-Pittsburgh jaunt in the next couple of years. i'll be in phoenix on Monday for ballpark number 21 though!

  6. That's the kind of trip I dream of taking one day. Very cool! I own a replica of that exact Pilots jersey, too! And for the life of me I don't understand why a card shop would, you know, not let you actually handle the cards. Seems to defeat the whole purpose of even going.