Most of the teams also set aside areas inside and outside the stadiums to pay homage to the greatest players in franchise history. I’ve already seen statues of Stan (”The Man”) Musial in St. Louis, Ted (”The Splendid Splinter”) Williams in Boston, Willie (”The Say Hey Kid”) Mays in San Francisco, Walter (”The Train”) Johnson in Washington and George (”Babe”) Ruth in Baltimore. In case you are wondering why the Orioles honor the Bambino even though he never played for the team, it’s because Camden Yards is built in an old neighborhood that once included a bar owned by Ruth’s father (the home where the Babe was born is still standing, just a short stroll from Camden Yards).
When drawing up your travel plans, strive to arrange your stadium visits so they coincide with your favorite team’s trips to the same destinations.
My favorite stadium sojourns so far have included my favorite team, the Oakland Athletics. Those trips gave me a chance to wear my green-and-gold Athletics’ gear in hostile territory, which has led to lively repartee with the fans of the local team. What’s more, your favorite team will appreciate seeing some friendly faces, so much so that they may be even more accommodating than usual with requests for autographs and baseballs. In a further show of support, try to get tickets behind your team’s dugout on the road. Just keep in mind the location of visitor’s dugouts vary from stadium to stadium, so double-check before buying tickets (the visitor’s dugout is on the third-base side of the field at 18 stadiums and on the first-base side at the other 12).
After each visit to a baseball stadium, I can hardly wait to go to another one. Despite my ardor, completing the journey has been a multiyear process because, like most baseball fans, I don’t have the time or money to see all the stadiums in a single season. Last year, I made it to four stadiums for the first time, a new single-season record for me. Other vacation commitments this year are likely to restrict me to a single stadium: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., when the Athletics play there in July.
When I finally cross off the final big-stadium off my list in a few years, I am going to have to find a new quest. Well, I hear there are lots of quaint minor-league baseball stadiums located in rustic towns all across America ...