Friday, April 24, 2009

30 by 50

When I completed my ballpark trip to Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Cincinnati in the summer of 2004, I set a goal of increasing my number of current ballparks visited by at least one per year until I had been to them all. At that point, the total stood at 16, meaning that the goal would be to complete the entire circuit by the end of the 2018 season. Of course, what slightly complicated this were the subsequent closings of three of those stadiums in the time since. So, although I've visited five new parks in the past four years, the total has grown to only 18.

This past week, not fully considering the fact that I was creating a more difficult standard, I decided that the goal should be to make it to all 30 current major league parks by the time I turn 50. Since I'm turning 42 in less than a month, this only gives me a little more than eight years to accomplish it. Of course, that would be during the 2017 season, more than one year prior to the original goal. Since I'm not really comfortable placing too much emphasis on the concept of turning 50, I'm going to amend that a little by saying that the goal is to hit them all by the end of the 2017 season. That is, the season during which I’ll turn 50.

This means that I have to visit 12 parks, plus keep up with any new stadium openings, in the next nine seasons. Here are the current major league parks that I have yet to witness games at (listed roughly in order of difficulty, easiest to hardest):

New Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
Citi Field (New York Mets)
Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies)
Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)
Turner Field (Atlanta Braves)
Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays)
Dolphin Stadium (Florida Marlins)
PETCO Park (San Diego Padres)
Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Angels Stadium of Anaheim (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)
Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)

This sounds difficult, but I already have tentative plans to meet up with a few old college pals at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia this summer, and it’s likely that I will hit both new stadiums in New York this year as well. That would raise the total to 21, leaving nine remaining. However, Minnesota already has plans to move into their new ballpark next season, so that means there will be at least 10 to spread over eight years.

To my knowledge, none of the remaining teams still residing in older stadiums have plans to build new ones: the Red Sox and Cubs seem committed to their historic parks, and the Athletics and Royals have both spent considerable money on renovations. Of those on my yet-to-visit list, Tampa Bay, Florida and both Los Angeles venues are the only older parks, with Chavez Ravine being the only one that I'd make an effort to visit if I learned the Dodgers were planning to build a new home.

Another reason this is not an impossible task is the proximity of some of the parks to each other. All it will take are two well-planned long weekends to Florida and Southern California to check off five more. That's the reason I list Colorado and Houston as the most difficult, with the latter being a less attractive travel destination. So, it's going to be difficult, but I'm certainly going to enjoy trying.

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