Where I’ve Been: touring the country one ballpark at a time

With less than 60 days until Opening Day, crews are scrambling to get ballparks ready in time for the hordes of fans who will be streaming through to get their first official fix of Spring. The sight you see above is what the right field bleachers at one of baseball’s most hallowed cathedrals, Wrigley Field, look like right now as crews scramble to install an LED ribbon board and a patio area before the ballpark opens for business on April 5th.

From Seattle to Miami, hope springs eternal that this will be the year for the local nine. Even if it isn’t though, that’s not going to stop any of us from sitting in our favorite seat with a Dixie cup of overpriced beer and a hotdog slathered with mustard, neon relish, onions and celery salt. That’s what summer is all about if you’re a sports fan after all, heading out to the ol’ ballpark and spending a couple hours watching grown men making millions of dollars playing a child’s game in their pajamas.

Of course, team travel secretaries aren’t the only one plotting itineraries this time of year involving ballparks. That’s why starting on Monday, we’ll be kicking off a series titled “Where I’ve Been”, designed at introducing you to the places you’ve gotta go and things you’ve gotta see this baseball season.

Every last one of us has a bucket list of places we’ve gotta see before we strike out in the bottom of the 9th inning of our own lives, heading off to the big ol’ clubhouse in the sky. Some of those places are fairly obvious. It’s a safe assumption that if you haven’t seen a game at Wrigley, Fenway or Camden Yards, those ballparks are on your to-do list and with good reason. They’re freaking gorgeous.

Of course, the American landscape is dotted with hidden gems that aren’t on the receiving end of the written hoary hosannas every year that the aforementioned ballparks are. There are places like Ashford University Field in Clinton, Iowa, where you can eat deep fried Oreo cookies in a stadium that has gone largely unchanged since it was built in 1937. It’s not a ballpark that is top of mind when it even comes to the most decorated minor league ballparks, but it is a baseball experience that every true fan must have at least once in their lives because it is just so quintessentially American.

We’ll be kicking things off with Wrigley Field largely because I live a couple blocks away from the ballpark and it really is the ultimate summer baseball destination. Our writers will have every angle covered, from why you should go to what you should eat while you’re there, helping set your itinerary for summer baseball fun. Having covered the Midwest League myself for MiLB.com, I can say without equivocation that some of the best times I’ve had in a baseball stadium have been at some of the most obscure ballparks. Tim Livingston prides himself on being an expert on the Florida State League ballparks. With writers from coast to coast, you can expect a healthy amount of destinations to add to your baseball bucket list, everything from weekend road trips to weeklong destinations.