2018 and Beyond… What Remains To Be Seen?

The news has been spread and now that the season is over and I’m in a more reflective mood, I can confidently confirm my choice to retire at 1,000 baseballs. This means I have 133 more to catch before I go into hibernation. Sure, I’ll still go to games and likely try to catch the occasional game home run, but the days of putting up big numbers are coming to a close. I’ll likely still attend any new stadium that opens after my “retirement” and ballhawk for one game there, and I’ll try my best to snag a commemorative if they are being used, but I won’t be a full-time ballhawk in the near future.

But what other goals remain before I stop this habitual hobby? Well, really only one other comes to mind: Snag a ball at all 30 MLB franchises’ stadiums.

The remaining stadiums are:

  • Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels)
  • Petco Park (San Diego Padres)
  • Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)
  • Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers)
  • Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)
  • Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers)
  • Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)
  • Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)*
  • Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)*
  • Citi Field (New York Mets)*
  • Marlins Park (Miami Marlins)

I’ve visited the stadiums with an asterisk, but didn’t catch a ball there, since I wasn’t yet a ballhawk. I think I can realistically hit up the first eight next year (2018) and then finish off the list in 2019. It is looking like I will be completing the journey in Miami, which seems very strange to me – there is no sentimental tie, nor is it a stadium I am particularly pumped to see, but I suppose one stadium had to be the final stop.

In a perfect world the final game would be something like this…

I will have gone to 15 more games prior to this final game, making the last game number 162 of my career (equaling a full MLB season). I will have seen 29 others franchises and be on the road to close out my MLB tour. The ball total would be in the 990s and somehow ball #1000 would be a gamer (commemorative if possible) of some sort, preferably from the hands or bat of Trevor Plouffe. The date of the game would be 4/15/2019, exactly 10 years to the day from my first baseball ever snagged.

Then I ride off into the sunset.

But movie script endings are hard to come by, and snagging 133 balls in 16 games equates to 8.3125 balls/game – an average even higher than my personal best from this season (7.875).

What I can tentatively count on is the following schedule for 2018:

  • 4/5/2018 – Opening Day at Target Field (snag an Opening Day commemorative?)
  • 5/7/2018 – Nationals @ Padres (cross off Petco Park from the list)
  • 5/8/2018 – Diamondbacks @ Dodgers (cross off Dodger Stadium from the list)
  • 5/10/2018 – Nationals @ Diamondbacks (cross off Chase Field from the list, snag a 20th anniversary commemorative?)
  • 5/11/2018 – Twins @ Angels (cross off Angel Stadium from the list)
  • July 2018 – Rangers (cross off Globe Life from the list)
  • September 2018 – Indians (cross off Progressive Field from the list)
  • September 2018 – Tigers (cross off Comerica Park from the list)
  • September 2018 – Blue Jays (cross off Rogers Centre from the list)
  • 9/30/2018 – Final Day at Target Field (snag one last ball before playoffs?)

I may end up adding 2-3 more games in there at Target Field, but for the most part my games attended will be minimal next year. Like I mentioned, I only have 133 left to catch, and if I keep up my average, that doesn’t take too many games, especially if I want to hit up all 30 ballparks.

Trip 2

Only an estimated 4,936 miles on the road next year, thanks to airplanes being used to transport us to and from Los Angeles. We’ll still get to drive around in the dessert, but the extremely long drive has been cut from our itinerary.

There is talk about going to Kauffman Stadium with some Target Field folks (David and Alex are the driving force behind that now), so that may take the place of a flex game at Target Field, too.

So that leaves 2019 looking even more bare. If I cannot extend my Cleveland/Detroit/Toronto trip into Boston and New York City, then I will only have FOUR stadiums to visit. I can fill in a few more Target Field games to get my total close to 1000 before booking the last game on the road, like I said, probably in Miami.

And then it’s over. Finished. Ballhawking at a high level will no longer be a thing for me. I will hold great memories close to my heart, still keep those friends I have made along this journey, but my requests for toss-ups and getting to games 4 hours before first pitch will be a thing of the past.

I’ve had a hell of a run, especially in 2017. I look forward to what remains, and know that even one more ball isn’t guaranteed. Join me at the gates, let’s have a blast until the very end!

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