Four photograph collage of baseball fields with a white box in the center and text that says "Reviewing my 2019 baseball travel resolutions."
ballparks,  travel

Reviewing my 2019 ballpark resolutions

For several years now I have made New Year’s resolutions to visit ballparks in the coming year.  Most of my goals are to visit new Minor League Baseball stadiums, but my resolutions are not exclusive to MiLB parks.  Each year I review my resolutions and assess how successful I was in fulfilling them.  So, here’s how I did with my 2019 ballpark travel resolutions.

Resolution #1:

Last year my wife Katie started a program for an additional certification related to her job.  Part of the program required her to be in Portland, Ore., for a month.  She also enjoys baseball, so it became our goal to see all three Minor League Baseball teams in Oregon.  Due to Katie’s class schedule we didn’t get to take a traditional ballpark road trip and see all three teams in quick succession, but we did visit each ballpark over the two weeks I spent in Oregon with her.

You can read about our visits to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (click here), Hillsboro Hops (click here), and Eugene Emeralds (click here).  Although we did not get to visit all three teams on consecutive days, it is very easy to see all three ballparks over a few days.  By car it is a two-hour drive from Eugene to Hillsboro with a stop in Keizer.  Travelers without cars can take BoltBus, which has stops in Eugene, Salem, and Portland.

Resolution #2:

For the past several years I have worked as a reader at the Advanced Placement (AP) Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio.  However, working at the reading requires an invitation each year.  When I made this resolution, I did not know whether I’d be able to keep it or not.  Fortunately, I received an invitation to the reading, which allowed me to fulfill my goal of seeing these three great Midwest ballparks.

Prior to this season, I had visited Dayton on two occasions.  However, this was my first visit with the intent of writing about the ballpark (read about it here).  I also made my first visits to Huntington Park (click here) to see the Columbus Clippers and Victory Field (click here) to watch the Indianapolis Indians.  All three parks are great downtown stadiums with outstanding skyline backdrops.

Resolution #3:

I made it home to Georgia this summer, which was critical to making this resolution a reality.  I was easily able to make it to my first Gwinnett Stripers game (read about it here).  It was actually my second trip to write about the gameday experience at Coolray Field (read my first visit here).  However, the Gwinnett Braves re-branded as the Stripers prior to the 2018 season, so I wanted to visit and update the gameday experience.  Unfortunately, I failed to see the Augusta GreenJackets at their new ballpark because I chose to focus on writing instead of making the trip to the Central Savannah River Area.  There were several days when I was writing about my other ballpark visits that I debated about traveling to see the GreenJackets, but opted to buckle down and write about my other travels.

Resolution #4:

I went two-for-five in seeing all the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) teams in Greater Tokyo during the 2019 season.  I managed to see the Yomiuri Giants (click here) and Tokyo Yakult Swallows (click here) play at home this season.  Although the NPB season began in late March, I was only able to see the Giants before heading to the United States this past summer.  Due to schedules (both work and baseball), I was only able to see the Swallows in mid-August.  So unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the Saitama Seibu Lions, Chiba Lotte Marines, or Yokohama DeNA BayStars during the 2019 season.

In a unique turn of events, I watched the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters play at the Tokyo Dome in September.  The Fighters played in Tokyo until 2004, which is when the team relocated to Sapporo in Hokkaido Prefecture.  Fans protested the move and in a concession to their Tokyo fan base, the Fighters still play a few games at the Tokyo Dome each season (see photos here).  Additionally, the team offers free tickets (read more here) to people with foreign passports.  So, Katie & I got free tickets see yet another baseball game at the Tokyo Dome.

Recapping the resolutions

  1. See all three Minor League Baseball teams (Eugene Emeralds, Hillsboro Hops, and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes) in Oregon with my wife.  Resolution kept.
  2. Attend Columbus Clippers, Dayton Dragons, and Indianapolis Indians games.  Resolution kept.
  3. Attend a Gwinnett Stripers and Augusta GreenJackets game.  Resolution not kept.
  4. See all five NPB teams in Greater Tokyo (Chiba Lotte Marines, Saitama Seibu Lions, Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Yokohama DeNA BayStars, and Yomiuri Giants).  Resolution not kept.

I upheld two of my four 2019 ballpark travel resolutions.  Of the four resolutions, three were easy to keep.  I was reasonably confident I could be in Georgia, Oregon, and the Midwest this year.  When I made these resolutions, I was rather confident I’d see two teams in Georgia, all three teams in Oregon, and visit three Midwest ballparks.  There were times when I was in Atlanta that I debated making the trek to Augusta so I could keep that resolution.  However, I wanted to focus on writing and prioritized that above seeing a new ballpark and keeping that resolution.  I knew seeing all five Tokyo-area ballparks would be difficult to accomplish and given the travel time from my home to Chiba and Yokohama I am not surprised that I failed to keep that resolution.

Since I started making ballpark travel resolutions in 2014, I have yet to uphold all of my resolutions during a calendar year.  So, I am at peace that I missed the mark with my 2019 ballpark travel resolutions.  When I ponder my resolutions each year, I try to write a few that will be slightly difficult to uphold.  For me, setting these resolutions isn’t about easily achieving them, but striving to explore beyond my typical boundaries.  Now to contemplate my New Year’s Resolutions for 2020.

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