Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight? – Balls 971-974 (September 3, 2018)

Kansas City Royals 5 – Cleveland [REDACTED]s 1

Progressive Field – Cleveland, OH

September 3, 2018


Last Road Trip of 2018, and possibly the last road trip I take before completing the “All 30 Current Stadiums/Franchises” tour. I cannot believe how close I am and how quickly it has all come.

During this multi-year tour I have not attempted to see a stadium more than Progressive Field. It took three tries – once getting rained out in May 2017 and then getting kidney stones in July 2017 – but I can FINALLY cross it off the list more than a year later. Quite honestly, I thought I was cursed. I was even worried putting it at the beginning of such a great trip, with so many meaningful and exciting stops. But the posts of Toronto, Detroit, and Milwaukee will come at a later date. Right now we will focus on the Mistake On The Lake.

I took off on Sunday morning and got to the Cleveland area just before sun-down. The first place I wanted to see was “Cuyahoga Valley National Park”. This national park is less than a half hour from downtown Cleveland and has a beautiful waterfall. Compared to most national parks, this one felt weird because it was so close to an urban setting and you could easily drive through it – the park felt more like a state park at best, more like a heavily wooded and slightly protected area.

I shall note it here that once my baseball journeys are complete/down to only visiting new stadiums/teams, my next road trip focus will likely be national parks. Having been to a handful already, I see the beauty in them and the potential for amazing adventures in the journey to visit them.

The next day I woke up and had about 12 hours left in Cleveland. This was plenty of time to go Pawpaw hunting (I struck out), see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, visit a record store, and see a baseball game. Oh, and also stop at a 7-Eleven, duh! It is kind of amazing what you can do in a short time in a new town. I’ve often wondered just how much information and experience I have in my head, would it make for a decent memoir?

Since you can see the adventure in moving pictures, I shall save you the details of each stop and focus on baseball…

I arrived at Progressive Field early. SHOCKER! It was a 4:10 game, but I probably showed up in the noon hour. The great news about being so early is that I got prime parking. And the even better news is that since it was a holiday (Labor Day), city parking was free! The weather app and radar were looking good; it finally seemed like my luck was turning around at Progressive. The sun stuck around and then after about 1 pm it got cloudy.

But no worries. Clouds never canceled a game before. Well, the clouds turned into some showers, no more than 30 minutes before the gates were set to open. The Cleveland ball club was even taking BP already before finally stopping a few minutes into the rain. But the radar made it look very small and quick moving. Things would pass.

Then the gates opened. The sun was trying to fight its way out, while the Royals pitchers warmed up in right field. Then it happened AGAIN. Showers came through and halted the warm-ups and killed any chance of batting practice. This was not a good start to the trip or a warm welcome to the curse stadium. But the good news was that a Royal tossed me a ball as they left the field. The even better news? It was a 50th anniversary commemorative that they are using this year. (It seems like they only use them in the bullpen/warming up pitchers or in games. NOT in BP.)

I then walked around and tried to stay dry – from both rain showers and the insanely humid and warm temps. Nothing is worse than a stadium that opens early only to have NO ONE on the field taking BP or warming up. I killed over an hour until some bullpen coaches came out. I ended up getting another commemorative, this time from Cal Eldred. I knew today would be a tough day for snagging any decent amount of baseballs. So two was already a slight miracle.

The game started and I took my seat next to the Royals dugout. I was only a few rows back from the field, but unfortunately the Royals boosters were apparently all in front of me. I kid you not, 2 rows full of Royal fans that had made a trip to see their club play and who the players seemed to look out for (by tossing nearly every ball to them). Towards the end of the game, I finally got a gamer. I should have had one or two before that, but some interference kept me from coming down with one. The one I did get, however, was interfered with and landed at someone else’s feet. They did not move, let alone make an effort to even try to bend over. I picked up the ball and then someone got mad (not him, but the lady next to him). Whatever. It wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t sweat it; I just don’t like confrontation/accusations.

The last two innings I spent out in section 101 (in front of the bullpens in RF). That place was pretty sweet! No HR bombs were hit to me, but I did manage to get ball #4 of the day after the game. Not too shabby for a new stadium with no BP, eh?

After the game I started my drive to a foreign country. International baseball was next on the plate, and only about 4 hours away. Bu that journey will have to wait until the next post…

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Ball 1: Unknown Royal (The ghost of the not-dead-yet Brett Saberhagen?)

Ball 2: Cal Eldred

Ball 3: Unknown Royal (The ghost of the unused potential of Angel Berroa?)

Ball 4: Ball Boy

And here is the song that is referenced in the title. The Cars are possibly one of the greatest pop-rock acts EVER. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, and their bassist/vocalist, Benjamin Orr, was from the Cleveland area. All of that coupled with the fact that I was on a road trip and needed to DRIVE, meant that this song was perfect (in my head) for this post.

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