If given the opportunity, would you spend a summer to travel to every single baseball stadium and watch a game in each one with three of your best friends? For most baseball fans the answer is an easy yes, but to turn this vision into a reality, you need perseverance, meticulous planning and enough passion to pull it off. Four local Seattle teenagers have stepped up to the plate (pun intended) and will be living out an idea that was thought of at a kitchen table five years ago.
Kellan Larson, Travis Smith, Jack Wilson and Kendal Young start their journey Saturday morning to travel across the country and visit every single baseball stadium in the country. The four guys have known each other since the second grade and played on the same little league team together. Smith, Wilson and Young all just graduated from high school while Larson finished his junior year this past year.
The group of four friends will see 30 Ballparks in 54 days and travel 13,697 miles. Now that's a trip.
The guys had planned out mock trips before, and tried hard to work summer jobs to raise enough money for the trip in the past five years. This past year, the group finally got down to business, raising money, looking for sponsors and actually spending hours trying to create a realistic plan to see every ballpark.
ROOT Sports stepped up in a big way and will be providing funding and, more importantly, exposure for their trip. Mariners fans will be able to see video footage and updates of their trip during Mariners pre-game shows and on ROOTSports.com.
Other local companies, including the likes of Jones Soda, Buckley's Pub and SuperGraphics, have also financially backed the group.
All leftover and unspent money raised for the trip will be donated to The Edgar Martinez Foundation, which funds diversity scholarships and support programs for students in Washington State.
"The Edgar Martinez Foundation was a no-brainer," said Larson.
Though the trip is well-planned and thought-out, it would be foolish for anyone not to have any doubts. Can these four teenagers actually pull it off?
"I'm not scared at all. In my view, when something goes wrong, that's when the adventure starts," said Smith.
Something will almost certainly go wrong; it would be a miracle if these four guys didn't face single a problem on their trip.
Smith mentioned two difficult parts of the trip that the group is anticipating.
About a week into the trip, they will have to make a 15-hour drive right after the Colorodo Rockies game from Denver, Colorado to Minneapolis, Minnesota. In mid-July they will make an 18-hour drive through the night from Miami to Houston.
"Something weird is going to happen during that journey," said Smith.
These potential challenges aren't scaring the four from making the trip. How can you not admire the sheer determination of the group into making this journey happen?
They just want to be kids and live out a dream together. Simple enough, right?
"It's become something that others can live vicariously through us. ... So many people have told us that it's great that we've stuck with it," said Smith.
This trip is America's past-time. The guys will eat different foods, hear different accents and come across different walks of life, but most importantly will meet different people.
"I want to meet people and experience different cultures; the ballparks are just an excuse to do that," said Smith.
While the group is looking forward to seeing all the different stadiums, including a July 4th game at Fenway Park and a trip to Cooperstown during the All-Star break, their trip is not about baseball.
"The baseball part is awesome but I'm also getting a chance to go on a road trip with my four best friends," said Larson.
With three of the four guys off to college, the trip is a last-ditch effort for them to be together as teenagers before the perils of adulthood and the "real-world" confront them. And this is what what makes their trip so remarkable.
All doubts, fears and even girlfriends are being put aside to live out their dream. Many of us should, and could, make a similar life choice, but do not end up doing so because there is always something in the way. Thankfully for them, they do have the support of their girlfriends and their families.
"My parents do [think I'm crazy]. They've been in support of it. I don't think they actually thought we were going through with it," said Smith.
People will be able to follow their adventure by going to their website and reading their blog at ballparkboys.com. Funds for both their trip and the Edgar Martinez foundation will continue to be raised on their website.
The guys will make their triumphant return to Safeco Field on August 2nd for the Mariners game against the LA Angels.
"I've never been to another baseball stadium, we're focusing towards Northwest fans who don't get out too much to visit other ballparks," said Smith.
They know this experience is not just their dream, but also every baseball fan's dream. Except by August 2nd, this trip will not be a dream for these four teenagers anymore, it'll be a reality.
MVI 2152 (via eslaval)