BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
We finally made it. For us, the school year ended last Friday, June 7. Colin had his fifth grade promotion ceremony which was the official culmination of the year. Now we can start packing for OUR BIG TRIP.
This trip is so awesome that I’ve been afraid to publicly mention it. Any baseball person is superstitious by nature. Like a pitcher throwing a no hitter, never mention the no hitter in the dugout. It’s bad luck. But here we are, it's close enough.
The ultimate goal is to get to CHICAGO. Very close to home, we have three White Sox affiliates (Knights, Dash, Intimidators). Within four hours of home we have two Cubs affiliates (Smokies, Pelicans). We love them all. As much as North Carolina is billed as part of “Braves Country”, maybe we are really an extension of Chicagoland. Anybody in the area with knowledge of minor league baseball will understand what I mean.
The easy route would be to fly to Chicago, but we would rather get in the car and see what else we can along the way. My wife, Rebecca, who SHOULD BE a travel agent, and I sat down and looked at the Chicago MLB schedules and lucked into a dream scenario. The rest of the adventure is just icing on the cake.
Here’s a schedule of Ballpark Adventures in the ten days ahead...
Wednesday June 12:
Augusta GreenJackets @ Lexington (Kentucky) Legends
Heading west from home, this will mark another South Atlantic League ballpark off our list. We love the GreenJackets and plan on wearing the visitors apparel in enemy territory. With the game scheduled for a noon start, we will likely turn in early for the evening to rest up for the craziness to come.
Thursday June 13:
Tour of Louisville Slugger Museum & Buffalo Bisons @ Indianapolis Indians
Heading out of Lexington is Louisville, Kentucky. Home of the Louisville Slugger bat company. We plan to make a short stop and tour the museum and see all that goes into making a premium piece of lumber as used in professional baseball and many college summer leagues. This would usually highlight a day, but not for Ballpark Adventures.
As the schedule played out, on the way toward Chicago, we could cut north and head to Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indians are the team that hit the dangerous foul ball that derailed our Memorial Day weekend in 2018. In anticipation of our visit, we have written the Indians telling them of the injury to Katelyn. Again, another example of the quality people working in baseball, team representatives tell us they plan to visit Katelyn in her seat during the game.
Friday June 14:
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers @ Quad Cities River Bandits
As the name gives away the geography, this will be our first game in the Midwest League. Just across the Illinois state line, the River Bandits play in Davenport, Iowa. This was a destination to us because Quad Cities are part of the Astros organization, one we have to come to love as we have seen other affiliates close to home. Also of note, severe flooding has affected the area along the Mississippi River and compromised the ability to even get to the stadium. Games were moved from Modern Woodmen Park as recently as June 6. Any more rain in the upper Midwest region may derail this dream stop.
Saturday June 15:
30th Anniversary celebration of Field of Dreams
Fortunate in our planning, it was announced that the movie site would host an anniversary celebration on the day we already scheduled to visit the field. Serendipity? Perhaps. About an hour and a half north from the Quad Cities area and roughly thirty minutes west of Wisconsin is the site of the baseball epic. While we can’t stay all day, some cast members and other Iowa legends plan to attend as well as a showing of the movie on the field after dark. “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” As much of an experience it would be to see the movie on the field, we will already be making our way to the SECOND CITY... CHICAGO.
Hopefully we are in Chicago by mid afternoon. This will give us another night to explore. We need to take advantage of the opportunity. What will we do? Ask my travel agent.
Sunday June 16:
New York Yankees @ Chicago White Sox
With all the recent Charlotte Knights (our closest MiLB team) starring on the South Side, our most relatable Major League team may be the White Sox. As the franchise is rebuilding, the future looks bright. Close to home, we have previewed young Sox stars like Moncada, Giolito, Jimenez, Kopech, amongst others. It’ll be fun to see these guys in a bigger stadium against a team like the New York Yankees. The atmosphere will be electric. I hope the rest of my family can handle it.
Monday June 17:
Tour of Wrigley Field and site seeing in Chicago
BUCKET LIST! On an actual baseball off day, we are taking an early morning tour of Wrigley Field. Off day tours allow a little more access to player facilities and are a little less stringent on time. This will let us relax and look around and enjoy the site. Stadiums mean more after you have seen them in person. If the Cubs make a deep run in the playoffs this year, we will feel like more a part of the team. THE BIG TREAT REALLY COMES THE NEXT DAY. Oh yeah, plenty of exploring the city Monday afternoon...see our travel agent.
Tuesday June 18:
Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs
More fortune!!! We definitely wanted to plan a tour to see both Chicago teams. Rarely do the teams overlap at home. However, how lucky did we get when we could see the White Sox come to the North Side to play the Cubs? I’m sure we could scalp our four tickets. Any baseball fan in Chicago would pay a great price to be in the house. The money would be good, but I’ll take the memory. Many celebrities and Chicago icons will likely be on hand. Sorry to the White Sox, but in Wrigley, we really need to see them fly the “W” and blare “GO CUBS GO” after the game.
Wednesday June 19:
Taking the other way home... Columbus (OH) Clippers
Not even sure who they’re playing and it really won’t matter. We will be coming off our Chicago and MLB high. Columbus is back to AAA baseball but Huntington Park should be phenomenal, even for AAA standards. This park hosted the AAA All Star game and AAA National Championship game in 2018. This means a lot of investment has been made to this park to host these showcase events. It’ll be a great facility and a great first stop for us in Ohio.