One more off the bucket list

What’s on your bucket list? I’ve recently added an item to mine: watching a game at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.

I’ve been a Kansas City Royals fan for awhile now—long before they won the World Series—but recently, I’ve grown to enjoy the game even more. Documenting the Tabor baseball team’s successes over the last few seasons has increased my enjoyment of the sport. As I learn more about the game, I can’t help but long for more.

As a result of my growing enthusiasm, I decided to work toward the goal of watching a game at all 30 ballparks. I’ve already been to five Royals games at The K dating back to 2009.

Last summer, I planned a vacation to Chicago to visit Wrigley Field, where I enjoyed everything from seeing the hand-operated scoreboard, to taking in the fantastic view overlooking the city and Lake Michigan, to tasting my first Chicago-style hot dog, to hearing fans sing “Go Cubs Go” after the Cubs secured a victory.

So this summer, with two ballparks already checked off my list, I began looking for a new park to visit. I chose Coors Field in Denver. One of my college friends lives in Colorado and is a big Rockies fan. I knew it wouldn’t take much convincing to get her to join me for a game.

Before my trip, I bought a book to help me make the most of my stadium visits: “The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip” by Josh Pahigian and Kevin O’Connell. The authors travelled to all 30 ballparks and wrote about topics like getting the best seats, attractions in and around the ballparks, team history and trivia, and the best food to eat and avoid.

I found the reading enjoyable and learned quite a bit. For example, I learned that because of the altitude, baseballs tend to travel 5 to 10 percent farther at Coors Field than balls hit at sea level, making Coors hitter-friendly. Because of the number of home runs being hit, in 2002 the Rockies began storing game balls in an atmosphere-controlled humidor to keep them from drying out, thus limiting the travel distance off the bat.

As it was, I witnessed four home runs the day I visited Coors. Apparently, baseballs still travel far in that thin Rocky Mountain air.

Another tidbit I gained from my new book is that the one row of purple seats in the upper deck of the stadium marks the point where the elevation hits one mile above sea level.

Even though our seats for the game were on the first level along the first base line in right field, I was cognizant of the change in altitude. I tired quickly and was a bit lightheaded.

During the game, the sun beat down on us, and it’s little wonder people sunburn easier at higher elevations. An added bonus was a mid-game rain shower that provided relief from the heat. A blanket of clouds blocked the scorching sun, and rain cooled our sweat-drenched backs. Surprisingly, with no humidity accompanying the storm, I began wishing for a jacket, that is until the clouds moved on and the sun shone down as before.

My friend said I brought good luck with me to Colorado. After losing six of their previous eight games, the Rockies won three in a row beginning with the game I attended. That win streak was short-lived, however. I had to wonder that if I brought good luck to the Rockies, maybe I took it from the Royals, who lost four games in five days, including two blowout losses to the Astros while I was away. I’ve decided I’m not taking the credit or the blame.

Now, with my vacation over and my third ballpark checked off my list, I’m left to dream of which park to visit next. If you’ve been to a particular ballpark and have a story to share about your experience, I’d love to hear it. Send me your recommendations of what to see, do or eat at janae@hillsborofreepress.com. I look forward to hearing about your baseball adventures.