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Travel the USA or Europe – I Can’t Decide

I’m eight months away from returning home when my contract is finished here in South Korea. I’ve been debating whether to travel through Europe and Asia, or do a tour around the US. Both of the tours would entail watching baseball as the main part.

Lately, I’m really leaning toward staying in the US. Next April when I head home, it will have been 2 years since I’ve been home and right now I’m missing it a bit. I miss road trips, shopping in US grocery stores, so many foods from home, and my family.

For the past few days, I’ve gone round and round with places to see, estimated costs, and so much more as I read a lot of other blogs who have done similar trips. And I’ve found a few events at home that I’d love to see. The problem of course is cost.

My idea of the trip would include the following:

All 30 MLB Stadiums

At least 1 game at the following levels – little league, high school, college, independent league, Rookie league, A, AA, and AAA.

College World Series

NBC World Series – Baseball ‘Round the Clock

Field of Dreams movie site

Hall of Fame and other museums

As well as other sites like national parks

I’ve tossed out ideas of making videos along the way as I meet some great people or maybe even writing a book about what I see on the open road. There are so many possibilities. One thing for sure is I would blog as I travel.

All in all I think it would take me 4-5 months on the road which is fine with me, but it will cost quite a bit. First of all, I don’t have a car anymore since I have lived overseas for the last 2+ years. But that is easily fixed. The big cost I think would be lodging.

I know I can save some money staying in hostels, coach surfing, and even camping in some areas. But I am still looking at spending 120-150 days on the road. Sure I could cut the trip shorter, but part of the idea behind the trip is to see the country. I want to meet the people, experience the cities, and explore the back roads. I can’t do that if I am only gone 45 days and trying to cram in 30 games.

I’ve got eight months to figure all of this out, but it will be here before I know it. What do you think I should do?

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Three Under the Radar Baseball Events I’d Love to See

I love baseball. There is simply nothing like being at the ballpark watching a game as the sun is setting. I’ve been to my share of games over the years, but there are a few things in the baseball world I would love to see. Here are three baseball events that I’d love to see that might be a little under the radar for many baseball fans.

The Midnight Sun Game

The tradition of the Midnight Sun Game started in 1906 in Fairbanks, Alaska. The games is played through the hour of midnight but artificial lights are never used. During a few day each year, the summer solstice, there is no need. The light will fade midway through the game, but then it will come back as the sun never really sets providing light to play. This is very rare but with Fairbanks being only 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, it is possible here.

The game will start at 10:30 and end around 1:30-2am.

Baseball ‘Round the Clock

Each year at the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series, Baseball ‘Round the Clock is hosted. It consists of 17 games in 56 hours over the course of a weekend. Contestants must register and once during each game at an unknown time a notification will be sent and they must check-in at a designated place. Prizes are given away to those who finish as well as a coveted t-shirt, but the people do it for more than that. The NBC World Series is the culmination of some of the best amateur and collegiate level baseball in the country.

Minnesota Townball

Townball, where a team represents a local town or city, is dying in the US but it is alive and strong in Minnesota. There are some 30+ leagues with over 300 teams competing in three different levels throughout the state. It is a throwback to the old days around the turn of the century when baseball was played for the love of the game. It still is there in Minnesota.

Is there an event you’d like to see?

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I Found My #Calling in Korea – To Watch Baseball Around the World

I can remember going to old Arlington Stadium to watch the Texas Rangers play back in the 80s. They were terrible and it might have been the worst Major League Baseball stadium out there, but it was all I knew. I loved every minute of those games.

As the years went by and I got older, I was able to see games in other stadiums around the country. I grew up on the game, and can’t get enough of it. In fact, it is just after 10am on a Monday morning in Korea, and I am watching a live baseball game from back home as I type this.

I love going to games, especially if it’s my first time at a stadium. I love hearing the roar of the crowd and smelling the fresh-cut grass. To me there is nothing better than walking up through the concourse and seeing the green grass on the field for the first time.

Fast forward to 2010, and I am living in Korea about to experience my first baseball game on foreign soil. It was an experience I would never forget. At a baseball stadium in Daegu, South Korea, I can still remember walking up the stairs, through the concourse, and out into the open air again seeing the green field below with the boys of summer playing catch.

I think I found my Calling.

I learned from the fans in Korea. I learned to love the game again in a new way. I was able to watch the game with a bit more passion for the simplicity of the game without all the negative aspects that are sometimes seen in the States. I have been able to meet some great people through the game here in Korea, and I hope to meet even more.

I found my Calling; to travel and experience baseball in other countries.

I’ve spent over two years here in Korea and have been to many baseball games. Each time I am there, I see something new and exciting. You can’t help but feel the excitement in the air with how passionate the fans are. I’ve never enjoyed a game so much than sitting with the cheering Korean fans. It’s simply great how they love the game the way it should be loved.

I have been fortunate to travel to each baseball stadium in the Korean equivalent of the MLB. In just over 8 months, I hope to keep that spirit alive as I travel around the world taking in baseball in as many places as I can. I want to rekindle my love again and again with the game that brought me so much pleasure over the years.

Samsung Lions Mascot - Daegu, South Korea

Samsung Lions Mascot - Daegu, South Korea

 

What is your Calling?

 

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Baseball Traveling – Where Should I Go?

I have finally decided to do some serious baseball traveling.

When I originally came to Korea in late 2009, I wanted to use it as a springboard of sorts to see baseball in Asia. I have enjoyed my time here and have been afforded the chance to see Korean baseball up close.

Korean baseball fans are very passionate. They bring an excitement to the game I have rarely seen in the USA. I don’t know how many places I will travel to and see the same excitement, at least not on the level here. However, I am anxious to get out and see baseball in different countries.

I am not finished in South Korea until early next year. In the meantime, I will be planning my trip.

I have a lot of places I want to go, too many in fact. So over the coming months I will be narrowing down my list. I am very excited to get out and see what the baseball scene is like in other parts of the world.

I hope to see baseball in countries where the game is growing and thriving and in places where it might not be. I want to talk to those who play, coach, or just watch and find out why they do it. How did they find the game and why do they like it?

It’s going to be an interesting journey, and I hope you will follow along with me. I’ll be reaching out to people along the way for information on where to travel to and who to see. So if you know of a beautiful stadium, raucous crowds, or just teams with great history please let me know.

My journey will start in Europe and will take me from western to eastern Europe. After which I will fly or train to Asia. Many of the countries I will go to have established league but not all of them.

Ideally I’d like to make it to Central and South America next, but that may have to wait for another year. It will depend on my financials and if I am still wanting to stay on the road that long.

So far the countries I am looking at are:
Spain
France
UK
Belgium
Netherlands
Germany
Austria
Czech Republic
Ukraine
Thailand
Cambodia
Vietnam
Philippines
Taiwan
China

This list is in constant flux however and I haven’t decided how far in advance I want to schedule. The cities will depend on team schedules for next year as well as any contacts I am able to talk to and the suggestions they have.

What do you think? Would you add a place or take one away?

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The Word for 2013 is……..Travel

I have been in South Korea for over 2 years. One of the reasons I came was to travel, and see some baseball in different countries. In about 10 months I am free, and I’m going to do some traveling. I’m thinking of doing a baseball trip somewhere.

I have found a few companies that take teams of adults to play baseball overseas in countries like China, Cuba, and places in Europe. I am really thinking of doing one of these.

I’d love to do a trip to Cuba (even if the ones I found are only to watch baseball), but the ones I have found leave too early for me. I’m really interested in a few of the trips to China. They run for a week or so and you play baseball around the country against Chinese adult teams.

I haven’t played in almost a decade, but earlier this year I got out and tossed the ball around. I definitely miss it. The thrill of the game is one of the great thrills in life. I miss the teamwork, the drama, and the excitement.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun. I plan to see baseball in as many countries as I can and maybe even play a few games.

If you or anyone you know has been on a trip like this before or even knows of one, let me know. I’d be interested in learning more about the trips and/or companies that run them.

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USA or Europe Baseball Trip?

I am torn. After this year in Korea I will have been here for a total of 3 years and 2 in a row without going home. I really enjoy it here, but I also really want to travel. So I am torn whether to try and plan a trip in the US or in Europe.

I’ve never been to Europe, and there is so much I want to see. I’d only be able to go where I want for 90 days due to visa regulations for the region. If I went home, I could travel basically until I run out of money.

There are a lot of upsides for either trip which is why I am so torn.

Europe Trip
1. See new countries and experience new cultures while watching baseball.
2. I would plan on seeing Germany, The Netherlands, and the Czech Republic for the majority of my trip.
3. After spending 3 months there, I thought I might head to Thailand and relax for a month or two where it is cheap to do so.
4. Overall it would be about 4-5 months of travel.
5. It would be shorter and cheaper than a trip to the US.
6. I’d get to see baseball in at least 3 different countries and maybe more.

USA Trip
1. I’d go to every MLB park and quite a few minor league parks.
2. I’d get to see friends and family who I might be able to talk into joining me during parts of my trip.
3. There are still a lot of places in the US I’ve never been to.
4. However, it would be more expensive (I don’t own a car anymore).

Either way I go, I plan on coming back to Korea to teach some more. I enjoy it here, but I might have to find a different place to work.

Perhaps I am trying to do too much with a trip to the US. I was planning for 6 months on the road. Maybe if I trim it down to 3 months there, it wouldn’t cost as much and even then I could head off to Thailand or somewhere in Central America to relax and take a rest before coming back to Korea. I might even get to watch some baseball in Central America and practice my Spanish. I just though of this as I was typing and now I am a bit more excited about the prospects of a US trip.

Time for some more planning, but first I need some more go-go juice or coffee.

What would you do?

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I Plan to Watch 100+ Baseball Games this Year

One of my goals this year is to watch more baseball. I got away from watching last year and only saw a handful of games, and to tell you the truth I missed it.

I have it made here in Korea where I can watch games in the morning before going to work. A typical Braves game comes on at 8am here and a Rangers game usually 9am. This is perfect timing since I don’t go to work until 1:30. The problem for me has always been simply getting up in the morning since I used to stay up very late, think 3am or later.

I’ve changed this year though. I am up earlier to watch games and blog (you can read my Braves only blog at Braves Baseball World), and it has been a lot of fun.

My goal is to watch 100+ games this year. That includes all the game I hope to go to live as well as just a lot of games on TV. I’ll miss most of the games in August when we work in the mornings, but until then and after I plan on watching a lot of baseball.

Plus I have plans to hit up every ballpark again in Korea. This time I’ll be bringing my video camera. I hope to see some of the minor league games here too. They call it the Future League or Second Division. Not to mention some games my friends play in in an adult league, and hopefully some college and high school games.

I’ve watched every Braves game so far this year, as well as Yu Darvish’s first start. I plan to watch a lot of him as well. He’s the most exciting thing to come through Arlington in a long time. I’ll watch more Braves games than anything, but when the Rangers and Angels play, I’ll be watching. That match up is getting heated and I can’t wait for them to square off.

It’s just going to be a huge year for me and baseball. I plan to write a lot, film a lot, and take a ton of pictures. I fell happiest when I am working on anything baseball related. I’ve even tossed around the idea of writing a book, but I haven’t put my finger on the right topic just yet.

So I am about 5 games into my goal of 100. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

I wonder what the record for most games watched in a season is, at least as far as live games goes. I saw the other day where someone set a record by seeing all 30 MLB stadiums in something like 20 days. That’s impressive. I wonder just how many MLB and MiLB games one could take in in a season. That could be a fun challenge.

What do you think?

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Tours to Cuba to Watch Baseball

There is one place more than any other that I would like to go see a game – Cuba. I have watched the Bill Lee documentary of he and his team going down to play, and I have seen old videos and read about the games there from before Castro. To me this land where it seems the clock has stopped would be the ultimate experience.

And thanks to the SABR newsletter, I have finally found a trip worth taking at Cubaball.

While it might not be in the immediate future, this is a place I want to visit in due time. Perhaps the travel ban will be lifted prior to me having the chance to go, but even if not it seems like this is a viable solution.

The pure love for the game these fans have and the high level of play is so enticing for me. The price seems fair as well, so perhaps it will be something to look into more when I am ready to leave Korea.

The only thing better would bee to have the chance to play a game in Cuba.

If you could go to one place to catch a game, where would it be? It would be Cuba for me – hands down.

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Future Travel Plans

One of the reasons I moved to South Korea was to get out and travel and see more of the world. Before leaving the USA, I had only been across the boarder into Mexico once or twice. I have always been a huge fan of history and have wanted to see far off lands for many years. But I was like many other Americans in that I just didn’t travel abroad. Moving here I hope to change that.

So far in just over a year, I have not been anywhere but Korea. I had a trip planned last year to Japan that fell through because I couldn’t take my vacation. Right now I am looking at traveling to Taiwan in November for the Asia Series, but again I don’t know if I’ll be able to take vacation or not.

So to satisfy my urge to travel and see baseball, I have decided when my contract is up early next year I will travel for two months. It works out nicely that I will be off at the start of baseball season. I should be able to travel for the months of April and May. After which I will come back and work another year in Korea. Ideally I would have a job lined up before leaving, but that is some time away.

So where should I go?

I am leaning toward heading to Germany and the Czech Republic for the two months. This would satisfy two huge issues. I love baseball and history and both places are full of both. The German and Czech leagues should be kicking off by then, and I’ll be able to see some historic places I have wanted to see for quite awhile.

The idea is to work here a year, travel for two months to baseball playing countries, and then come back and work another year. I don’t know how long I can keep that up, but that is the plan for now. At some point I want to get my teaching certification and then hopefully teach history in an international school. If that works out, I can use my summer vacation time to travel and see baseball while still living abroad.

If I continue to teach English, I can travel to baseball playing nations year round. Europe and Asia in summer time and then in winter I can hit the Caribbean and Australia. It’s a great thing that many nations play the great game now and I want to see as many places as I can that play it.

Any thoughts on where I should go next year? I am leaning toward Germany and the Czech Republic but I am open to suggestions on where might be good places to go that time of year.

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Some Ideas on a True Baseball Journey

I watched a great film the other day called A Map for Saturday. It’s a documentary about a guy made about backpacking around the world. I have always thought this would be a great thing to do, but for the longest time I felt I was too old now. I have since come to change my mind. Even though I am not your typical gap year college kid who wants to get out and see the world before starting a career, I want to travel.

Moving to Korea has only enhanced my desire to travel. I have been putting pen to paper to see what it would cost to either take 6 months or a year to travel. I’ve also been thinking of routes, because I not only want to travel, but I want to watch baseball as I go.

So here is a preliminary plan.

I want to spend 2 years here in Korea. This will give me ample time to save the amount of money I will need for my trip. When I leave here (April 2013) I’ll have my school fly me to Spain.

April 2013
Spain – 2 weeks
France – 2 weeks

May 2013
UK – 2 weeks
Belgium – 1 week
The Netherlands – 1 week

June 2013
The Netherlands – 1 week
Germany – 3 weeks

July 2013
Austria – 1 week
Czech Rep – 1 week
Italy – 2 weeks

Fly to Poland

August 2013
Poland – 1 week
This is where it could change. I’d either like to head to Moscow and take the Transsiberian railway or just fly to China
China/Hong Kong – 2-3 weeks (train or not)

September 2013
Taiwan – 2 weeks
Thailand – 2 weeks

Of course all of this is just a dream at the moment. It’s a lot of time to spend in Europe, which isn’t exactly cheap. The grand idea would be to head down to Australia in November then over to Central and South American via the USA. But all of that would mean I need to save more money (perhaps another year in Korea) or get some sponsors in some way.

Most of these leagues play on the weekends. So I would have time to see other sites during the week with baseball on the weekend. Travel would either be by train (preferable) or bus (slower but cheaper in most cases).

There are just so many places I would like to see baseball in. I have thought about a round the world in a year type trip, but doing it in sections I think is going to more feasible. Perhaps working a year or two and then traveling for 4-6 months. This would allow me to spend more times in certain places. It’s even possible to work a year then travel for a few months. Come back again and work another year. Jobs here allow me to not only pay down my debts (school loans mostly) and save at the same time.

The outline above is just one of many I have come up with. Where would you go if you had 4-6 months to travel and wanted to see baseball. But not only baseball but other things as well. I have never traveled through Europe so it is very appealing to me.

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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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