SAN FRANCISCO — If you’re a baseball fan looking to add a new pastime to your vacation itinerary, consider setting a goal to visit all 30 of the sport’s major league stadiums.
I began my crusade about five years ago, joining a growing number of other zealots making the pilgrimage to baseball’s cathedrals.
It has become such a popular pursuit that you can buy baseball-stadium maps to document where you have been and plot where you still need to go. The one decorating my den shows I’m halfway through my odyssey, with 14 more fields of dreams still to be seen. If you need more memorabilia, there’s also a book called “The Major League Baseball BallPark Pass-Port” that provides tips about each stadium, with slots to file ticket stubs and a place to “validate” each visit with a rubber stamp.
But all you really need is a love of baseball and a passion for exploring new places to relish this journey.
All the baseball teams are based in major U.S. cities and many of the stadiums are situated in bustling downtown areas with engrossing things to do and savory places to eat when you aren’t attending a game. These attractions should help the cause of baseball fans trying to recruit a spouse or other traveling teammates who may not appreciate the sublime pleasures of the game.
My baseball tour already has introduced me to things that wouldn’t have been on my radar if I hadn’t booked a trip to see a stadium.
When I went to St. Louis to visit Busch Stadium in 2010, I rented a car one day and made the two-hour drive to Samuel Clemens’ childhood home in Hannibal, Mo., the Mississippi River village that inspired Mark Twain’s best-known books about the childhood adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The Hannibal visit had a ripple effect when I went to Boston to see Fenway Park, prompting me to rent another car to drive to Hartford, Conn., to visit the custom-built home where he spent the happiest and most productive years of his adult life.