family in 1985 — we hit two ballparks, San Diego and Los Angeles.
In 1988, I did ANOTHER West Coast trip with my two pals, Mark Miller and John Rafalides, and we hit San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco on that trip (froze our ASSES off in August at Candlestick Park for a Phillies game).
But it was 1990 when I went plum crazy and decided to see as many parks as I could.
From 1986 to 1992 I co-held season tickets for the Philadelphia Eagles with a friend of friend from Dundalk named Russ Letra, who still sits in the row in front of me in Sect. 513 at Ravens’ games — we see each other at every game!
We both loved football, each had no team we could actually see every week (despite never missing an Oilers game for me) and going to games was the most fun in the world for both of us.
He signed up for the tickets, I agreed to go to every game that didn’t conflict with the game time of an Oilers game (I usually missed two or three a year) and bought a green jacket and proclaimed himself an Eagles fan.
It was a short ride on Sunday mornings, really, less than 90 minutes and the crowds were enthusiastic and the best teams in the world came to town. I saw Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms and all of the other stars who took over the NFL after 1983 when the Colts left town.
It was a no-brainer, really, to go to the games, but I never really became an Eagles fan. I probably liked them more than any of the other NFC East teams — I absolutely HATED the Cowboys, Redskins, Giants and even the Cardinals, after Bill Bidwill snubbed Baltimore — but there was a hollow feeling after the Colts left and I really kinda already had the Oilers.
But, at some point over coffee and pancakes at the Penrose Diner off Broad Street one of those NFL Sunday mornings, we agreed to dream little and make the most of what we still loved the most — baseball!
“We should go on a baseball trip next summer,” Russ said. “Go to some ballparks, see some games, see Comiskey Park before it’s torn down.”
In the spring of 1990, we laid out the eventual game plan.
We would drive in my 1984 Toyota Cressida across the middle of the country and see six baseball stadiums, five baseball games, one NFL preseason game and, not insignificantly, visit the hallowed halls of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
We went from Baltimore to Chicago on the first overnight (and even changed a flat tire 20 miles west of Pittsburgh right on the I-70). We saw White Sox play the Rangers at the old Comiskey, saw Nolan Ryan