Writer marks a couple parks off the list

For those of you following my quest to watch a game at all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks, I’m happy to report that this summer I checked off two more stadiums.

I bookended a trip to Washington, D.C. with a pair of baseball games, the first to watch the Royals face the Nationals in the final game before the all-star break, and the second a short drive away in Baltimore.

I’ve always loved trivia, and I’m learning so much from the book, “The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip” by Josh Pahigian and Kevin O’Connell.

For example, did you know that according to legend, the seventh-inning stretch began in Washington, D.C.? As the story goes, President William Howard Taft threw the ceremonial first pitch at a 1910 Washington Senators game. Later in the game, he stood, mid-seventh, so the crowd stood, too, out of respect, thinking Taft was preparing to leave. All Taft intended to do was stretch, however, and the tradition stuck.

Washington, D.C., was home to a couple Senators teams prior to the arrival of the Nationals in 2005. In 1961, the Senators left to become the Minnesota Twins, and in 1972, a second Senators team left to become the Texas Rangers. The nation’s capital was without a major league team until 2005, when the Montreal Expos moved to D.C. and were renamed the Nationals.

I make it my aim to try a local food option at every park I visit. In D.C., I tried the half-smoke—sausage topped with peppers and onions, chili and cheese and served on a hot dog bun. I opted to skip the chili, but the peppers, onions and cheese added a nice touch, making the half-smoke much better than the typical ballpark hotdog.

According to the Nationals fans sitting next to me, Gerardo Parra, who joined the Nationals in early May, has brought new energy to the clubhouse. If his walk-up song is any indication, I believe it. Parra walks to the plate to “Baby Shark,” and fans clap and sing along. Apparently, there’s also a shirt. Just Google “Parra shark.”

I’m not sure if this can be attributed to Parra, but when the Nationals score, fans remove their caps and wave them up and down while chanting, “N – A – T – S, Nats, Nats, Nats, Woo!” before placing them back on their heads. Admittedly, it was fun, but I reminded myself that Nats fans got to cheer far too often in their 5-2 win over the Royals.

I ended my week in D.C. with a trip to Baltimore for an Orioles game—the 42-mile drive took more than 2 hours. There’s one reason I’m not a fan of city driving.

I spoiled my plan for stadium food in Baltimore by eating a day’s worth of calories for lunch at Good Stuff Eatery. If you’re ever in D.C., go to Good Stuff Eatery. While the burger and fries—with unique dipping sauces like mango or Old Bay—were delicious, the shake was the best part. I improvised and asked for a chocolate shake with coffee mixed in. The “mini” size was 16 ounces.

My lunchtime indulgence meant I had no appetite for Boog’s BBQ, owned by former Orioles player Boog Powell, which I had planned for supper. I’ll have to go back for the BBQ, although the Orioles were harder to watch than the Royals—and that’s saying something. The Orioles were the only team with a worse record than Kansas City last season, recording 47 wins and 115 losses, and this year isn’t looking much better.

The Orioles are 38-73 at the time of this writing and took a 16-4 beating from Tampa Bay that night. Baltimore gave up seven runs in the opening inning, and I began cheering out of sympathy anytime the Orioles made an out.

During the seventh-inning stretch, instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the song that blared over the speakers was John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Everyone in the stadium sang along, as the Orioles’ mascot played a fiddle from the window of the press box. It was a fun moment.

You know, after all that traveling, maybe I’m more of a country girl myself. While I’m glad to check another two ballparks off my list, it’s good to be home, even if I’m already dreaming of which stadium I’ll visit next.

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