by Mike McCann
Mike McCann, age 24, has been a baseball fan as long as he can remember. He has a goal to visit every major and minor league baseball stadium. This regularly-appearing column will follow the progress of "Bunko" and his quest.
The 2000 season was a good one for me. I was able to see 26 major and minor league baseball games in 18 different stadiums. The eight new stadiums conquered this year were: Delmarva Shorebirds (Salisbury, MD), New Haven (CT) Ravens, Texas Rangers, Capital City Bombers, Sacramento River Cats, Oakland A's, Queens (NY) Kings and Jamestown (NY) Jammers. Quite an interesting combination, if you ask me.
One of the highlights of this season was my trip to South Carolina. I hadn't been on a real vacation since 1996 when I went on a road trip to Toronto (five games in six days). Now I finally had my chance to go on another road trip. My girlfriend, Steph (I'm sure you remember her from my last story), has relatives in Columbia, SC. We thought that it would be fun to drive from here in the Philadelphia area to the middle of South Carolina. Yes, I am that insane.
We had planned on going in the middle of July because that fit into our schedules best. Unfortunately, the trip needed to be pushed back a few days because I had to go to Ft. Worth, TX on business. I did, however, get to see a Rangers game, so the trip was definitely worthwhile. The Ballpark at Arlington is an extremely nice stadium—it reminds me of Camden Yards in Baltimore. (These are two ballparks which you should visit if given the opportunity.) I flew back from Texas on Friday, and Steph and I left for South Carolina on Sunday. We didn't stop very often, and we encountered very little traffic, so the drive down took only about 10 hours. Making good time makes me happy.
Columbia is favorably located for a quest like mine. A good number of baseball teams that play in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are within a few-hour driving radius of Columbia. Additionally, we were fortunate to with Steph's family. When possible, I try to find people to stay with when I travel places for baseball games. In addition to being more personable than bunking in a motel, I can benefit from someone who knows the area to give little pointers about things I normally wouldn't think about.
On Monday, Steph and I drove to Augusta, GA. We did the touristy thing during the day (the Riverwalk is pretty nice). Around 5:00 o'clock, we decided to get dinner. Immediately after we got inside the restaurant, it started pouring. Nothing like a good summer thunderstorm, unless, of course, you want to go to a baseball game that night. Around 5:30, the rain subsided and we made it to Lake Olmstead Stadium, home of the Augusta Greenjackets, around 6:00 o'clock. After a few minutes of waiting for the gates to open, we were informed that the game was being cancelled because the field was flooded. That was not the news that I wanted to hear. We said that we had come all the way from Philly to see them, so they were kind enough to let us walk around the stadium.
After a little while, we decided that we should head out. Soon thereafter, we ran into J.P. Alexander, the publisher and editor of Baseball Ink. What an amazing coincidence! (All right, you figured me out—we planned to meet at the baseball game, but it sounds better if it is a coincidence.) It was great to be able to meet up with somebody else who is a big baseball fan like me. I always enjoy meeting others who share the same interests to trade stories and insight.
When we arrived back in Columbia, we found out that there were still tickets available for the Major League All-Star Game the next day. Atlanta isn't a very long drive from Columbia, and you don't get an opportunity like that very often. When the game was in Philadelphia in 1996, I had no chance at getting tickets. Unfortunately, by the time that we called Atlanta for tickets, the game was sold out. Another near miss. We did spend Tuesday in Charleston, SC, another great place to visit, although you can't see everything in just one day.
On Wednesday, we planned on seeing a Capital City Bombers game at Capital City Stadium in Columbia. The stadium isn't really anything special, but it was a pretty good game. The Bombers mounted a comeback in the 9th by scoring two runs, but they eventually fell short. The visiting Augusta Greenjackets ended up winning, 7-6.
Wait, that isn't much of a road trip. I drove all that way for just one game? I guess that vacations are more than just seeing baseball games...sometimes. I'll do my best to keep you informed of my travels. Hope you are able to get out to a game yourself soon.
Mike is always looking for people to attend baseball games with him, so if you are interested, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Bunko's quest to visit every major and minor league stadium: http://minorleaguesource.com/baseball.html
Visit Mike McCann's minor league history Web page: http://minorleaguesource.com/minor.html