A Parent's Perspective
With summer coming up I thought I’d share about a baseball trip I took with my son when he was around 9 or 10. If you’re able to do something similar, I highly recommend it.
I had gotten the idea from another Dad to see some of the cooler baseball stadiums in the country. Being from the East Coast I decided to take the trip there and combine it with seeing my family. Before going I checked all the team schedules to find the optimal time they would be playing at home over a 1 or 2 week timeframe. To save money we used my mom’s house in Philadelphia as a base. The plan was to rent a car and drive to and from the different stadiums that were a reasonable distance.
When we arrived in Philly, the only car we could rent was actually a mini-van. This turned out to be perfect for some of our longer drives. Although, we weren’t planning on it, we found out the Baltimore Orioles were playing the Yankees at home in Camden Yards the next night. Baltimore’s only a 3-hour drive from Philly. So, we got tickets online and drove down to the game. Camden Yards is the first of the modern retro stadiums. We had good seats about 20 rows up behind home plate. In the last inning, we were able to move and sit in the first row right behind homeplate. It was our first real upclose experience at a major league game. Mariano Rivera was pitching for the Yankees. My son was in awe of seeing him that close and seeing how fast the pitching was. After the game, we went over to the Orioles’ dugout where they threw us a game ball. What a great first game experience.
The next day I took my son to all the great Philly spots for Cheesesteaks, pretzels, water ice (like gelatos). We went to the old fields where I played Little League. My mom gave my son a photo of me playing on those fields when I was his age. That was quite a trip for me, showing my son where I played ball.
After seeing our favorite team, the Phillies, we drove up to Yankee Stadium. This was the last year they were in the old stadium. The Yankees were playing the Boston Red Sox. We had right-field bleacher seats which I didn’t know at the time were famous seats. In the first inning the entire right-field section yells out the names of each Yankee in the field. In turn, each Yankee player when called points or does some gesture back to the fans in right field. Way cool, and we got to participate in it. We even got to see a fight between Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. And, the game was great as well.
Before the next game, we drove up to Cooperstown to visit the Hall of Fame museum. There, we ate breakfast in a local café, then perused the Hall of Fame. My son marveled at one of the very first baseballs, the actual uniforms of the old-time players, the Negro League players, and the area with the plaques of all the players. I think we spent the largest amount of time in there, walking around reading the names of all the players. Afterward, on our way home we discovered a complex that had something like 21 baseball fields. This was home to the Cooperstown youth baseball tournaments. Teams come from all over the world, stay in a camp-like setting and play tournaments each day and on the weekend. What a discovery. We ended up staying a few hours watching some of the games. We ended the day driving back to Philly listening to a baseball game on the radio all the way home.
Next up, was a trip to Shea Stadium to see the Mets. The game was great and yet I’d say the highlight was stopping at the ESPN Zone in Manhattan’s Time Square afterward. If you’ve never heard of it, the ESPNZone is like the Disneyland of sports bars. 165+ large screen TVs line the walls, all with some sporting event playing. You can sit at bar, a table or one of a dozen or so easy-recliner cushy sofa-like chairs. Guess which one’s we chose? The cushy sofa chairs. We ordered burgers and fries, leaned back in our recliners and watched sports for hours. Ask my son about this trip and the ESPN Zone ranks in the top 3 of experiences. Maybe it was the giant chocolate cookie he had for dessert. Either way he loved it.
To finish the trip we went back up to Yankee stadium. This time we sat behind home plate. What I remember most was the feeling that we were close to where so many great heroes of baseball stood and played. It was inspirational.
After our trip, I made a scrapbook. I included game tickets, subway tickets, photos, game schedules, train schedules, game scores, stadium seat charts to indicate where we sat, and anything written and physically tangible that reflected the trip. My son wrote a school essay on the trip and I included that as well.
My son is older now, of course. As he gets older, he’s building a life of his own, with his own friends and things he likes to do himself. More and more, we don’t hang out as much. We talk about doing another trip, perhaps to the Midwest to places like Chicago and Detroit. If we do, that would be great. But both he and I will always have that first trip to remember.