What a Sweet Trip! – Major League Madness

Dear Parents of Major League Madness,

After seeing the Cubs win at Wrigley Field last week (yes, the Cubs actually won), we flew to Pittsburgh. We arrived at PNC Park on time for batting practice, and wow… what a beautiful field! PNC is situated right on the river overlooking the city skyline, and that’s the setting we watched the Pirates hammer the Dodgers on Wednesday night. Jack, Richie and Alden rated the ballpark amongst the best we’ve seen on our tour, while a few of us were treated to some awesome pregame autographs. Harrison, Matt H. and Jesse even snagged the John Hancock of former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw!

After the game, we waited by the players’ exit to try and get more signatures, and although the players weren’t in a signing mood, famous Pirates announcer Greg Brown came out to speak to our group and pose for a picture with our own Greg, a future announcing star!

Thursday we headed to the Big Apple. We all had a blast playing dozens of addicting games, Matt O. stuck to Deal or No Deal while Jordan and Charlie enjoyed playing the traditional arcade games. Afterwards we turned in our tickets for various prizes. On Friday we headed to the Bronx and toured Yankee Stadium, before playing softball on the sacred grounds of the old Yankee Stadium and then capping off the day by watching a fierce AL East battle for second place between New York and Toronto. Our large contingent of Yankees and Jays fans, along with everyone else had a great time sitting in the dugout during the tour, perusing through the Yankees museum to see World Championship trophies, buying new souvenirs and watching New York sneak by Toronto 6-4. After the game, we waited by the players’ exit again and caught a couple Blue Jays on their way out, including Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.

On Saturday we strolled through the streets of Cooperstown, a beautiful small village with a majestic and lively feel to it, especially on Hall of Fame weekend. Charlie and Jason loved walking into the many sports memorabilia shops and seeing thousands of people roam the main street on a bustling day in town. We played some pickup football in the park, where Ethan and Josh both scored highlight reel touchdowns, then got our chance to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The museum dedicated to America’s favorite pastime was a fascinating experience. Alden and Matt O. loved walking through the hall of plaques honoring the inductees, while Zach liked looking at all the World Series rings handed out since the inaugural world championship. Jason and Matt S. mentioned the exhibits were a real cool part, such as the tributes to Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, and the display of each team’s locker rooms. On Sunday, we camped out at the park all day to eventually see six new inductees take the stage and accept their nomination into the Hall of Fame. It was a surreal experience being in the crowd, listening to the legends reminisces on their careers and watch history in the making. We capped off a terrific day with a delicious dinner and incredible deserts at the Cheesecake Factory in Albany.

Yesterday our legendary trip, sadly was coming to a conclusion. After a stop in Springfield at the Basketball Hall of Fame, last night we savored Fenway for one last ball game. The many Blue Jays fans amongst us were thrilled with the 14-1 thrashing they delivered to the Red Sox. It may not have made us popular with the home team fans but it sure was wonderful final game memories.

We have had a blast with many signature moments not to mention autograph signatures and best of all the camaraderie of many new friendships that are sure to continue.

All the best,Major League Madness

- The Westcoast Blogger

The 7th Inning Stretch! – Major League Madness

Major League Madness - Citi Field

Our trip is rounding third and heading home in a couple of days, but we’re not quite there yet. We have had some ultra-exciting moments over the last couple of days. We arrived in Laurel MD. which is equidistant from Washington and Baltimore. We stopped for dinner at Famous Dave’s where Isaac displayed his passion for ribs. We all concur that the food there was top notch. Good times at golf and cages came next. Adam took a chance on the driving range for the first time. His swing is pure. However, it’s Jack B, our 11 handicap that displayed power and precision off the tees. Jared R crushed some balls as well. All of the guys took advantage of their time in the batting cages. Andrew loves the 80MPH fastball and wowed all of us with his consistent contact.

The next morning, we went to Camden Yards for a thrilling tour of the stadium. The boys certainly appreciate the beauty as well as the brief history of this fantastic ball park. After the tour we left to Washington which was highlighted by The Spy Museum. The tour started with each of our boys acquiring new identities. They had to remember their new identities and answer questions about their own personal missions at various checkpoints throughout the tour. The highlight of the tour was a special exhibit dedicated to 50 years of James Bond. That evening, we headed over to see Washington play Pittsburgh. Greg was so excited for his former Montreal Expos now the Nationals to play. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh came out on top but this loss would not allow Greg to even momentarily take his joy away from the total experience of this trip.

Two days in New York was next on tap. Mets on Day 1, Yankees on Day 2. Let the rivalry begin. We have fewer Mets than Yankees fans, but wow are they passionate. Between Justin and Brandon, the whole group was able to feel their passion. We started the game with a special surprise. Through Westcoast Connection arrangements, compliments of the generosity of the Mets ownership we entered the stadium through a VIP entrance and proceeded right under the stands into the “tunnel” and walked right onto the field for pregame photos. Wow what a thrill and a few of the boys got autographs from Mets Manager Terry Collins as he came over from the dugout to talk. We then proceeded to our VIP upgraded seats and each boy received a MLB goodie bag of souvenirs. Thankfully for our Mets fans, they came away with a big win. The celebration took place that night at Dave and Busters where the boys enjoyed Fajitas, but not as much as their video games. Our bus is now “stuffed” with animals and other prizes that the boys won by exhibiting their gaming skills. Day 2 in New York began early with a tour of Yankee stadium. Our Yankees fans especially enjoyed Monument Park, led by Jesse and Sam. Our boys’ knowledge of the history of baseball is truly remarkable. After the tour we had another opportunity to play softball. This wasn’t any softball game though. Our game took place on the field on the very site of Old Yankee Stadium. What an incredible experience to be able to play on this field, staring right at the new Yankee Stadium. We were running on sacred ground where all the greats and legends ran before us. Jordan hit multiple bombs to left field and displayed great sportsmanship by supporting the rest of his team. Oh yeah, they also happened to take the win for their second straight. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the New York Yankees. There wouldn’t be a second straight home team win and our Yankee fans left distraught. When we got to the bus, we quickly realized that the sadness wasn’t nearly as much about the Yankees loss, as it was about the anticipation of the end our trip. We have just completed attending 11 baseball games in 19 days. We want more!! These boys just can’t get enough.

At least we get to finish our trip with Cooperstown, a fitting ending for a trip highlighted by the baseball knowledge of our kids. This will be a blast for them and I can’t wait to tell you about their experiences there.

Until next time,

The Baseball Blogger.