Flat Bob on a Tiger hunt

Yes, I know it’s been a while since my last blog. Been kind of busy with work stuff and really haven’t had the oomph to type one of these suckers up. Then last week an article appeared in an Atlanta newspaper. Seems our buddy Flat Bob made the news. Actually Flat Bob has been a lot of places lately; Paris, Isle of Man, Australia, Miller Park in Milwaukee and witnessed Tiger Woods win the Memorial golf tournament in Columbus, OH. That’s FB stalking Tiger and Ricky Fowler from the ropes on the 13th hole. 

When Laura from the SADS Foundation told me their idea for Flat Bob I thought it was a great idea and had hopes that it would catch on. Well it has more than caught on. Everyday Laura is tagging me with Flat Bob photos on Facebook from all over the world. Now our goal is to get Flat Bob be a household name just like Flat Stanley.

The touching thing for me is that some of my oldest and dearest friends have jumped on the bandwagon. A few weeks ago my ISU Sigma Pi fraternity brother (we don’t say frat because…well, we just don’t) Jon Genson took FB to France and sent over some great photos. Last week my high school buddy David Dummer took FB to Miller Park to see our beloved Cubs take on the Brewers. Very cool guys, very cool indeed!

That’s the great thing with this campaign, people who only a short time ago had no idea what SADS was, are now taking Flat Bob with them, posting the pictures on their social media pages and helping spread awareness. 

I am going to cheat for the remainder of this blog and let the news article from Atlanta finish the blog. So for now this is so long and good-bye where it’s time to move over Stanley because here comes Bob.

Published Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Flat Bob Campaign: Miracle girl raising awareness about heart syndromes

Six-year-old Lisa Trotter of Grantville is a recent Kindergarten graduate, and is looking forward to a fun and busy summer with new friend “Flat Bob." Flat Bob is a paper doll distributed by the SADS (sudden arrhythmia death syndromes) Foundation.

Lisa, the daughter of Cynthia Trotter and the late Mitchell Trotter, was a healthy child until March 23, 2011. “She was playing in the yard and collapsed,” said Trotter. The babysitter called 911, and was talked through CPR until Coweta firefighters arrived on scene. The firefighters used a defibrillator to save Lisa.

Transported to Egleston in Atlanta, Lisa was placed on a heart and lung bypass machine and a ventilator as her heart was not strong enough to maintain its own beat. One positive was that a measurement of Lisa’s blood gases indicated good oxygen levels as “CPR was done correctly,” said Cynthia. Lisa was diagnosed with a sudden heart arrhythmia and placed on a beta blocker medication. Her specific diagnosis, determined through genetic testing, was Long QT Syndrome.
Long QT Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder, but Lisa has its most common form, KCNQI related to potassium loss.

The syndrome is an electrical disorder of the heart and patients must avoid sudden starts or scares, and must keep hydrated. Trotter says Lisa cannot participate in competitive sports, and only takes a dip in a pool. She doesn’t swim in lakes or recreational areas that cannot be accessed quickly by emergency responders.

Trotter carries a portable automatic external defibrillator (AED) unit wherever they go in case of a cardiac episode. Lisa attends Grantville Elementary, which has an AED on site, and the nurse has a specific protocol to follow in the event of an emergency.

Trotter calls Lisa her “miracle” child and personally thanked firefighters Bart Cauthen and Robert Shellabarger for saving her daughter’s life during a firefighters’ dinner last December.

Lisa is very attached to “Duckie” a beloved soft toy that her mother even brought to the hospital during her stay. Lisa considers her cat, “Polka Dot” and her dog, “Maple” her brother and sister.

This summer, the Trotters will join the SADS Foundation Flat Bob campaign to draw attention to the importance of CPR classes, especially for parents. The program also highlights the role of AEDs in helping the victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

Flat Bob is named for advocate Bob DeVries, whose wife Shawn Marie died at the age of 35 from an undiagnosed heart condition. DeVries worked for SADS to raise awareness and funds by visiting 30 ballparks in the 2010 season. His wife was a loyal Yankees fan.

SADS and its partner DeVries work to encourage those who have lost family members to arrhythmias to undergo genetic testing. The foundation has programs to help cover costs of genetic testing for children. These tests are often not covered by insurance.

Symptoms of sudden arrhythmia death syndromes can include dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations, consistent or unusual chest pain, and trouble sleeping. Shortness of breath when exercising can be another indication of an underlying problem.

“You always think this is something that could happen to someone else,” said DeVries. “Then all of a sudden. I became someone else. I’m a lot more invested now.”

To join the Flat Bob effort, or to learn more about heart conditions, go to www.sads.org. Printable Flat Bobs are available on the site.

“We’re supposed to travel with Flat Bob in the car,” said Trotter. The family’s first assignment is to photograph Bob and Lisa at a CPR Class,and with an AED located at a business or community site. This week, June 4-8, is National CPR and AED week.

According to SADS, 400,000 Americans die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias each year. One in 200,000 high school athletes in the U.S. will die suddenly.

Lisa with Flat Bob and her AED
I would like to take a moment and introduce Flat Bob or FB to those who know him best. FB was the creation of my friends at the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome Foundation (SADS) in hopes that folks like yourself will take a moment, visit this site and take FB with you on your journeys and upload photos of FB to a special page on the SADS website. 
(Pause here while folks are visiting the SADS site.)

Welcome back, hope you found the
SADS site extremely informative. My friends at SADS have also set up a page for me which has left me very touched. Who would have thought that me, just some guy who was looking for a way to cope with losing a loved one by going to all the MLB parks in one season, would have spawned the “Where’s Bob?” campaign. It is very humbling for me to see my name linked to a T-shirt and a Flat Bob cartoon caricature. Wonder what’s next? – a “Where’s ‘Bob’blehead?”

All of this is a fun, light hearted way to bring awareness of very serious and deadly conditions that make up Sudden  Arrhythmia Death Syndromes. These conditions take the lives of thousands of young people annually. The next time you hear of a young person passing away from a heart condition, you can bet that the SADS Foundation is in contact with that family offering support, as they did with me. I could go on and on about the SADS Foundation, they are amazing people who do amazing work. Their 
website has tons of information about who they are, what they do and how they were formed. And most importantly – how you can help spread awareness and save a life!

The weekend of April 21st I assisted fellow ballpark chaser, Chuck Booth, in his attempt to break the Guinness World Record by seeing a full MLB game at all 30 ballparks in less than 24 days. Our goal was to be at Wrigley Field for the noon game on Saturday and then hightail it to Milwaukee for the 6:05 game at Miller Park. To make things even more fun, we then drove to Detroit for Sunday’s 1:05 Tiger game. While driving the 1,200 miles this past weekend, it gave me time to come up with an idea. I will not be going to all 30 MLB parks this summer, but Flat Bob can with your help. 

So today we start the Flat Bob challenge. We need a picture of Flat Bob at all 30 MLB parks by the end of the baseball season in early October. If all goes well we will extend the challenge to include the playoffs and World Series. All we need is for you to visit the Flat Bob page
here, print out Flat Bob and take him to a ballpark for the photo op. You can email the picture to bobbyd@30ballparks-in-1season.com. I will set up a Flat Bob challenge page on this website with all submitted photos of FB from all the ballparks. It will be interesting to see which ballparks we get the most photos from.

I guess that just about does it for today. I know you are wondering if we made it to Wrigley, Miller Park and Comerica Park on the weeknd of 4/21, check out the mini-series of blogs from that weekend here - part 1, part 2 and part 3. For now we have work to do and get this Flat Bob Challenge underway. So for now this is so long and good bye where I will thank you in advance for assisting with the Flat Bob Challenge and helping spread awareness of SADS and keeping hearts beating!

One last thing, I was privileged to be chosen by Chuck Booth of MLB Reports to be the Wrigley Field expert in advance of his visit to Chicago. A few weeks prior to Chuck starting his epic journey he interviewed me about Wrigley Field as well as a few other cool things. Click this
link for the interview. 

Well that stunk! Being a PG-13 website I would like to use the vocabulary I learned while living in Jersey for 15 years, but stunk it will be. What stunk you ask? The playoff run, or lack thereof, for the Bulls and Blackhawks. 

The Hawks I can kind of let go as we Hawks fans are only two years removed from winning the Cup, but still – how do you lose all three of your home games!?!?!?! The Bulls will be a harder pill to swallow. Best record in the shortened NBA season, home court thru the entire playoffs, the 7th NBA Championship right there for the taking and then Derrick Rose leaps up in the air while his ACL stays on the floor. Then to add injury to injury, Joakim Noah pops an ankle. End of season, thanks for playing, here are your parting gifts. At least the Bulls made history this post season becoming only the 5th number 1 seed to lose to an 8 seed. At least we have that. 

I just saw a tweet that said “wait until next year.”  What if there isn’t a next year for the Bulls. No, I’m not talking about the world coming to an end – that happened in the 8th inning of game 6 against the Marlins back in 2003. D Rose won’t be back until the middle of next season at best. I’m thinking we may have to wait until next year’s next year to get back to the point we were at when Rose’s knee played pop goes the ACL. UGH!!!!

So in true Chicago sports fandom we now turn our full attention to the Chicago team that is playing, the Cubs. I really didn’t think the Cubs would be getting my full and undivided attention until June. I figured I would flirt, make googly-eyes with the Cubs knowing the Hawks and Bulls were home waiting for me. Well now that the Cubs are the only game in town, I sure do hope they put out.

Hey wait there Mr. Bobby D, what about the White Sox, they are playing well. Sorry, see the banner at the top of the screen – it says Just a Cub Fan. There are many meanings to the Just a Cub Fan tag line, but the constant in all of them are – Not a White Sox Fan. I apologize to the White Sox fans, all 11 of you, for not showing your team any love.

So the question is can the Cubs hold my attention until at least September when the Bears start? I have to say that the Cubs are a much more fun team to watch this season. There is no in-fighting or drama that there has been in years past. The players appear to be getting along and having fun and they are better than their 13-18 record no thanks to Meltdown Marmol’s three blown saves.  This Cub team might just be exciting enough until Da Monsters resume patrolling the Midway. 
One silver lining is there will be more entertainment money available since I won’t be spending huge dollars on playoff tickets. The secondary ticket market is flooded with good seats for games at Wrigley. I can’t think of a better way to drown my Hawks and Bulls sorrows than sitting in field boxes at Wrigley with an Old Style or 3 or 4. I have a lot of sorrows to drown and as you can see in the photo I have a good start.    

Well that’s about it – needed to vent and having your own blog is a great ventilator. The Cubs are visiting their second home this weekend, Miller Park aka Wrigley Field North. I know I will be watching. So for now this is so long and good bye where I just thought of something I can do with my spare time, get caught up with all the episodes of ‘The Client List’, the Hawks and Bulls season didn't have a happy ending, at least this blog can. 

Back in early March, Chuck Booth of mlbreports.com asked me to be the Wrigley Field expert as part of his world record ballpark chasing attempt. Chuck had sent me these questions and since it took me much longer to answer these questions than it does a blog – I figure why not use this as a blog. You so smart Bobby D…Charlie is now LOL’ing really really loud. 

Since I answered these questions in early March a lot has happened. Look for editorial comments from me throughout the interview in italics. 

So without further ado – here is Da Interview:

Douglas “Chuck” Booth (Baseball Writer)-  Bob DeVries loves baseball, this much is evidently clear when you get to know his story around the game.  I am going to meet Bob in person for the doubleheader attempt of Chicago and Milwaukee.  I can think of no other one person than I would rather hang out for the day in Chicago than Bob.  His spirits were brought back up back in his life by visiting all of the 30 MLB parks. While my case was entirely different from Bob’s, our common theme is that baseball brought us both back from the depths of despair.  I had the chance to talk to Bob about life, baseball and how we share the unique distinction of being the only two people on the planet to have attended a game in every park as a fan for two consecutive years in a row.

Bobby D’s note:  I did meet up with Chuck on April 21st and 22nd – the 3 part blog from that weekend can be found here – part 1, part 2 and part 3.

DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Wrigley Field Expert Interview, Bob. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Cub fan?”

BD:  “I am just your average, soon to be 49-year-old sports fan. I got married last summer to someone who I have known since we were in the 6th grade and reconnected on Facebook. Charlie (Charlene) and I make our home in McHenry, IL. I work for a distribution company as a logistics manager. I have a stepson, Brent, who is of all things, a St. Louis Cardinal fan. Brent got to live out a baseball fans’dream this past season. He was at Busch Stadium for game 6 and 7 of the World Series. 

My life as a Cub fan started in 1971 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field for my birthday. I often wonder if we would have gone to old Comiskey Park for a Sox game that day would I be a Sox fan today, thankfully we went to Wrigley. 

Being a Cub fan, like all Cub fans, has been met with frustration and disappointment but thru it all we have remained fiercely loyal to the Cubs and always will. Why you ask? I don’t know and I ask myself that question every season when the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs.

DB: “As one of 2 people to have been to all the ballparks 2 years in a row in the history of baseball fans, please describe this accomplishment? What prompted you to visit all the ballparks two years in a row?” 

BD: “On September 10, 2008 my wife Shawn Marie passed away from a previously undetected heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD). In short ARVD is a genetic heart condition that causes the right ventricle of the heart to turn to fatty tissue over time and eventually lead to cardiac arrest in perfectly normal, healthy individuals –usually with little to no warning. In Shawn Marie’s case it led to her passing at the age of 35. Were there signs or symptoms of ARVD – sure there were, but all very minor and all linked together after her passing.” 
After Shawn passed the everyday routine of getting up and going to work was easy, the not so easy times were my free times. I found I was having a hard time finding stuff to look forward to – my life was just a routine. Around Christmas Shawn’s cousin Jack and I were sitting around talking about what ballparks we had been to in our life. He then said “you should go to all the MLB ballparks this season.” I thought he was crazy, which he is. I had been thinking about his idea and in January when the MLB schedule came out I worked up the first of many versions of how I would get to all the ballparks in one season. I figured this would give me stuff to look forward to while learning how to live life again. During the 2009 baseball season I accomplished the feat of seeing a regularly scheduled game at all 30 ballparks. I found the travel and seeing the country was fun and challenging – of course going to the different ballparks was great and the sense of accomplishment was what I needed. What I didn’t expect was to meet so many wonderful people along the way that have become lifelong friends who also have been touched and inspired by hearing my story. 

As the Quest to get to all 30 ballparks was winding down I was asked over and over about what’s next? I really didn’t have an answer. Then on August 21, 2009 – my official Fenway game which was my #28 ballpark that season, my story was picked up by a few local news stations in Boston and aired that night. Of the many nice emails I received after the broadcast the one that stuck out to me was from Laura Wall who works for the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome Foundation. Laura told me all about SADS and even though ARVD is not technically a SADS condition – its symptoms and dire consequences mirror one another. After the 2009 baseball season finished I felt a bit lost. My life over the 2009 summer was defined by the Quest which was all about me and my recovery. Then the 2010 MLB baseball schedule came out and for fun I worked up a schedule to get to all 30 again in 2010. I started at the 2010 MLB opening night in Fenway Park and saw the Yanks– Sox game. The next morning I flew to Atlanta and saw the Braves home opener against the Cubs. From there the Quest to get to all 30 again for the 2nd straight year was on, but the 2010 Quest was not about me, it was a Quest to spread awareness about SADS and helped raise over $22,000 for the SADS Foundation, all in memory of Shawn Marie. 

Throughout the back to back seasons of getting to all 30 ballparks, I have learned to live and be open to love again and led to reconnecting with Charlie and eventually getting her to marry me this past summer on July 23rd. I have met so many wonderful people, many of which live and thrive with a SADS condition. I hope that along the way with the awareness that was spread about SADS that a life was saved. And thru the wonderful folks at Cardiac Science, we got an AED donated to Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City with a plaque that states “In Memory of Shawn Marie DeVries.” 
For more information about SADS please click

DB: “Wrigley Field is on everybody’s short list for the best ballpark in the Major Leagues to watch a game. Please tell us why you love Wrigley Field?” 

BD: “Of the questions asked in this interview this is the one I struggled the most with. I polled a bunch of my friends and each of them had a tough time answering it as well. 

I guess for me Wrigley is a big Little League Field. It is a true neighborhood ballpark with no Jumbotrons, no blaring music – just an organ. The Cubs play 50 day games during the season – who doesn’t love day baseball, the bleachers are a big party, the seats are close to the field and there is an atmosphere around the ballpark that is only matched at Fenway Park. Wrigley Field has a genuine charm to it that the new “retro” ballparks try to recreate.”

Bobby D’s note:  I really didn’t poll my friends; I just thought it looked good. How I really wanted to answer this question was a short, simple – Because it’s Wrigley effing Field baby.

DB: “What advice would you give  for somebody experiencing Wrigley Field for the very first time?” 

BD: “Make a day out of it. I suggest taking in a Friday or Saturday day game. The 1:20 start time for an afternoon game allows time to walk around the Wrigley area. The atmosphere around Wrigley on game day is something to be experienced. There is so much to see and do and here are some of the main things to not miss: 

-  Visit the many souvenir shops and street vendors

-  Have a beer or three at one of the numerous bars (Murphy’s Bleachers or The Cubby Bear are my favorites) in Wrigleyville

-  Hang out with the ball hawks on Waveland or Sheffield Avenues and try to catch a batting practice home run

-  Say hello to the firemen at the official fire station of the Cubs on Waveland Avenue. Ask to see the t-shirts they sell which are only $15. Best deal at Wrigley and the proceeds go to Chicago’s bravest

-  The Cubs’ players’ parking lot is right across from the fire station, I usually hang out there for a bit trying to get an autograph

-  Get your picture taken by the Ernie Banks and Harry Caray statues. Also have to get pictures of the Wrigley Field marquee sign

-  Try to negotiate your way to one of the rooftop buildings for a few minutes on Sheffield or Waveland. Tell the doorman you are from out-of-town and would like to get a view of Wrigley from the rooftop. It is cool to say you were up there but not worth staying for the game.

-  Since this is your first time at Wrigley I suggest getting box seats in the infield either lower or upper deck is fine. I would avoid the grandstand seats as these are under the upper deck and have a chance of being behind a support beam. The bleachers are cool to experience, just remember the seats are unreserved and are first come, first served and do not allow access to the rest of the ballpark.

-  Stay in your seats for the 7th inning stretch and sing “Take me out to the Ballgame” with whomever the guest singer may be. If you happen to have a beer, at the end of the song look skyward and give cheers to Harry Caray.

-  If the Cubs are winning, stay for the end of the game and sing along to the cheesiest team anthem in sports “Go, Cubs, Go.”

 -  After the game you can choose from the many bars and restaurants around Wrigley for dinner or take the “EL” downtown and head to Harry Caray’s Chop House and check out the remains of Bartman ball which they bought and blew up.”

Bobby D’s note: I had some momo comment on the article that I didn’t give any love to the Italian beef sandwich in my
list of favorite things at Wrigley. Well Senor Momo, any true Chicagoan doesn’t get a beef at Wrigley – too messy to eat and they aren’t all that good. Try going to my favorite,
Roma’s on Cicero or Al’s on Taylor. What a momo!!!

DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to Wrigley Field?” 

BD: “Wrigley Field is a true neighborhood ballpark surrounded by surface streets with the closest highway being 3.5 miles away. The easiest and least costly method of getting to Wrigley Field is public transportation utilizing either the “EL” (elevated rail train) or by bus. The Red Line for the rail has a stop two blocks from Wrigley Field on Addison Street. I usually park in the north suburb of Skokie and park at the Yellow Line rail station. The Yellow Line is a 7 minute connector train that runs from Skokie, IL to the start of the Red Line and then a 30 minute ride to the ballpark. 
As for driving, the parking lots around Wrigley Field are sparse and expensive usually running from $25 to $40. If I am going to a weekday afternoon game I usually drive as I can find parking for free on the streets around Wrigleyville. Parking on the streets in Wrigleyville for night games and weekend games is difficult as parking is reserved for residents with city parking stickers.”

DB: “What is the food like at Wrigley Field? What is your favorite ballpark food there?” 

BD: “The food at Wrigley is pretty good on the main concourse and so-so in the upper deck. Over the past few seasons the Ricketts family has improved the food offerings on the main concourse to include pizza, specialty hot dogs and a variety of sandwiches. The upper deck with its limited space for concessions, offers the normal stadium food of hot dogs, Polish sausage, brats hamburgers and nachos. 
I usually do not eat too much at the ballparks unless there is a specialty item that the ballpark offers such as the Rocky Mountain Oysters in Denver or the Dodger Dog in LA that I feel compelled to try. At Wrigley I stay old school usually getting a Polish or Brat with brown mustard and an Old Style beer.”

Bobby D’s note:  don’t get the Italian beef; I think I may have covered that already. 

DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Wrigley Field?”

BD: “This is a tough question as I have many memorable experiences at Wrigley and I don’t want to slight any of them as my all-time favorite. But since I am forced to choose one it would be one of my first childhood memories – my first Cubs game on May 19, 1971.

My dad said for my 8th birthday he would take me to my first Cub game on May 18, something came up and we went on the 19th instead.  I remember going into one of the souvenir stores and getting my first Cub hat. After that we headed over to Ray’s Bleachers, which is now named Murphy’s Bleachers, on the corner of Waveland and Sheffield. We bellied up to the bar and my dad was telling the bartender all about how this was my first Cub game. The bartender ended up selling us tickets for the game and gave me an official baseball that he said was a home run ball that he got after it landed on Sheffield. It even had the skid mark on it where it hit the street. 
Bobby D’s note:  for my birthday on May 18, Charlie is taking me to Wrigley to see the Cubs play the White Sox. How awesome is my wife!!!

We went into the ballpark early to watch batting practice. Back then ballplayers would sign autographs before the game and I ended up getting Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bobby Bonds, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Lou Boudreau on the ball the bartender gave us. 
It turned out the tickets the bartender sold my dad were first row behind the Giants’ dugout. I guess this explains my desire for great seats whenever I go to a game. Each inning after McCovey would toss practice grounders to the infielders I would stand up with my glove as a target for him to throw me the ball, he never did but one of the coaches saw me doing this and after one of the innings he rolled the ball on the dugout right to me.

Bobby D’s note:  for an 8 year old, this was awesome. I still remember that the coach put a spin on the ball so it came right to me. This is why I was so impressed by the actions of Jon Burnham which I chronicled in this blog.

I do remember that Fergie Jenkins pitched that day because my dad kept saying how great it was that we got to see Fergie pitch. I did go back and found the box score from that game. The Cubs won 9 – 5, Fergie pitched a complete game and Billy Williams went 3 for 5 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. And it was this game, my first ever baseball game, that my love for the Cubs was born.

Awesome Bobby D note: the picture attached to this blog is an autographed Fergie Jenkins photo we got him to personally sign when Charlie and I met him at a spring training game in late March in Arizona. Charlie and I told Fergie all about my first ever game; Willie Wilson and Rollie Fingers were sitting next to Fergie listening intently to our story.  

To this day, if it is my first game at Wrigley for that season, I buy a Cub hat. I also always get there early, go to either Murphy’s or the Cubby Bear and belly up to the bar and have a beer. Last season I got to do this with my wife Charlie and my stepson Brent. We bellied up to the bar and each had a beer. It was my first Wrigley game of the season and I did have a new Cub hat, one that Charlie had just bought for me. Seems she remembered reading about it in one of my blogs and knew the significance of the hat as well as the beer.

DB: “As someone who has watched the Undercover Boss and saw Tom Ricketts interact with his staff, I was left feeling his family would be great owners to have. What is the cities consensus about the ownership right now?” 

BD: “I saw that episode and actually parked in the Green Lot and met Jose, the parking lot attendant from the show, to see if the promised changes were made. The Ricketts family did stick to their word and had a temperature controlled trailer for the workers in the lot.

The overall feeling was a good one when the Ricketts family acquired the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Tom Ricketts has been a Cub fan since 1984 and met his wife in the bleachers at a game. Tom and his brother Peter used to live in an apartment across from Wrigley on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. What true Cub fan hasn’t dreamt of playing for the Cubs, managing the Cubs or owning the Cubs? With the Ricketts family, Cub fans had an owner who was living the dream.

Bobby D’s note: I actually had to do some research for this part of the answer. Gotta love Wikipedia.  

The Ricketts family made the perfect move and gained credibility when they hired Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and Jed Hoyer as General Manager. This was a key move for them as they needed to distance themselves from the everyday baseball operation and let baseball people run the baseball operation. The Cubs also needed a sense of direction. Over the past years under the ownership of the Tribune Company, there never seemed to be a plan – just spend money on free agents, make the team look attractive to a potential buyer and heck with the future; that is the next guy’s issue. With Epstein and Hoyer running the operation, there appears to be a long-term plan. 
The next step for the Ricketts family will be to upgrade Wrigley Field. The Ricketts have been working with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to secure public funding for the renovation of Wrigley. A renovated Wrigley with upgraded restrooms, concessions and seating along with revenue producing party decks and club sections is needed for the Cubs to be competitive financially against teams with newer ballparks such as the Cardinals and Brewers.”

DB: “Will the team struggle to sellout every game in the 2012 season?” 
BD: “I am afraid the Cubs will struggle with attendance this season unless they get off to a hot start and become an overachieving type of team. We Chicagoans do love an overachiever. The Cubs do have the third highest ticket prices in MLB behind the Yankees and Red Sox. This past off-season the Cubs dramatically cut back payroll and have gone into rebuilding mode. I highly doubt that Cub fans will be willing to pay high ticket prices for what will be perceived as an inferior product. In addition, the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls look to make long runs in the NHL & NBA playoffs this season which will add competition for the sports entertainment dollar in Chicago for the first few months of the MLB season. 

Bobby D’s note: I sure did jinx the Hawks and Bulls. But I got this one correct - have you seen the empty seats at Wrigley this season!

The Cubs do sell a lot of season tickets though and have a long waiting list to purchase them. I am currently 57,641 on the wait list. A troubling sign for the Cubs is that the waiting list is dwindling quickly. When I registered for the waiting list in November 2007 I was 74,000 in line. I moved up 4,000 places by the start of the 2011 season and was on pace to have season tickets for the 2081 season. This off-season I moved up 13,000 places, at this pace I will have them by the 2016 season. 
There is one positive though for Cub fans who enjoy going to Wrigley regardless of how good (or bad) the Cubs are playing is that the secondary ticket market should be flooded with tickets. Other than the marquee games against the Cardinals and Red Sox, good seats should be easy to get at fairly reasonable prices.”

***Thank you to our Wrigley Field Expert- Bob DeVries for participating in today’s article. To read about more the SADS foundation and how you can donate to the Shawn Devries Fund click here. ***

Wow – that was a long one (insert joke here). In retrospect I may have been plagiarizing by posting this interview but then again I am plagiarizing myself so what’s the harm. 

I am going to go to a new schedule of posting blogs. I will have a new blog every Monday and Friday with a blast from the past remix blog on Wednesday’s, basically taking a blog from 2009 or 2010 and adding some comments. Might be fun, but then again it might not be. Only time will tell.

That about wraps things up, so for now this is so long and good bye where I had joke about plagiarizing one’s self, but in the new PG-13 my blog site lives in - I had to refrain.  I better wrap this up, I have an eye doctor appointment today –having trouble seeing lately, wonder what’s up with that?    

I do not think there are too many people who can say they have seen a MLB game at 3 ballparks in 2 days. I was one of those people until a few weekends ago when I took in a game at Wrigley Field and then Miller Park on 4/21 and then a game at Comerica Park on 4/22. This is the third and final part of my weekend with Chuck mini-series. Here are the links to part 1 and part 2

My friend and fellow ballpark chaser
Ken Lee was in charge of getting Chuck Booth, aka the package, to the Lake Forest, IL oasis on I-94 for the handoff of the package. We had joked that meeting at 4:30 in the morning at a mostly deserted highway rest area was like some super secretive mission. I had gotten there a few minutes before the package arrived. I checked out the surrounding area and found we were safe for the exchange. The exchange went off without a hitch, I had the package and off to Detroit we went.

The 5 hour ride to Detroit was a breeze. Chuck and I had the chance to talk life, travel and our ballpark chasing adventures. Chuck being from Vancouver presents challenges as he has bounced around the US on his record attempt, small things like a US cell phone, credit card international usage fees and of course – the language barrier. Eh, sorry hoser, wow 5 hours in a car with a Canadian really rubbed off, put me in a car with Vinny Bagadonuts from Nutley, NJ for 5 hours and I would be eating sangwiches with fresh mutzadell. My wife Charlie is now thinking; please no - Bobby D already says orange, coffee and garden funny. My mom is now thinking, ahhh
Ralph’s pizza (a little shout out to Ralph’s on Franklin St. in Nutley, NJ – a real pie made with homemade gravy.) My sis is now thinking, pepperoni bread from Vitiello’s Italian Bakery, right Kim? My mom now chimes in with; oh their crumb cake is to die for. Can you tell I haven’t had dinner yet?

Sorry for the walk down memory lane, now back to the blog. Luckily we arrived very early to Detroit as I made a few wrong turns trying to find the ballpark, umm Bob – you do not make wrong turns in Detroit, EVER. Well we survived and finally my ballpark chasing sense kicked in, well really the GPS on the iPhone, and we found Comerica. 

Along my ballpark Quest in 2009 and 2010 I had been very fortunate to have met some wonderful families and in Detroit on April 22 I got to meet another one. Chuck had met the Salter family during his 2008 baseball travels and has kept in touch with them over the years. Joe and Dianne Salter with their sons Anthony, Jake and Robert met up with Chuck and me at Comerica. They were genuinely excited to be a part of Chuck’s record attempt and they treated us to tickets for the game. 

I will take a moment here, well a paragraph, to say how lucky I have been to meet so many wonderful folks such as the Salters, they hadn’t known me prior to that day and here they were treating me to a ballgame. My good buddy David Quinn calls it the 12 months of Christmas, just random acts of kindness for the sole purpose of just that – kindness. I can tell after hanging out with the Salters that they subscribe to that as well.

For me Comerica is my 2nd ranked ballpark behind only AT&T Park. Yo, Mr. Just a Cub Fan, what about Wrigley, dog? Sorry, I am watching American Idol as I type. Well as I stated in my ballpark rankings which can be found
here, I have Wrigley on the Mt. Rushmore of ballparks along with Fenway, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Dodger (thank God Magic bought the team) Stadium. There is just something about Comerica I love. From the entrance with the massive Tiger statue (that’s Anthony with Chuck in the attached picture), to the kiosks of memorabilia broken out by decade throughout the park, to the cool scoreboard with the Tigers perched on top, to the play areas for kids, and to the statues in left field of past Tiger players – Comerica is a great park to visit. 

Early in the game Chuck got a phone call from a fellow Canadian, Andrew DeBaeremaeker who was at Comerica. How cool is Andrew’s last name, he is the beer maker. Andrew was at the game with his buddy Scott whose last name coincidently is DePlayboeyphotograepher. 

Actually Andrew and Scott are huge baseball fans from Toronto as well as fellow ballpark chasers. Chuck had met up with them at the Rogers Centre, honestly who doesn’t still call it the Sky Dome, a few weeks ago. It was cool hanging out with them for a while and hearing all about Canadian ballpark chasing which if you think of it, you can do in a day. Congrats everyone who attends a Toronto Blue Jay home game, you are a completed Canadian ballpark chaser. Craig, hope you have more bandwidth on your

I ended up making it to the end of the 7th inning with Chuck and the Salters. I wanted to do one lap around the main concourse of the ballpark and then had the 200 mile drive back to Columbus. In all I drove a little over 1,200 miles that weekend. During our chat during the game, Anthony mentioned he  had never been to Wrigley, well Anthony when you are ready I would love to repay the favor to you and your family and take you to Wrigley – Bobby D style as I am the so called resident expert of
Wrigley Field

It was cool that I got to be a small park of Chuck’s world record attempt, since I am a bit delayed with my blog updates – Chuck did end up breaking his record and the new record stands at a complete game at all 30 MLB parks in 23 days. After seeing what went into just the 3 games on the weekend of 4/21, it would take a monumental effort to break the record. Well monumental for most of us, for Chuck it’s just another season of ballpark chasing.

A couple of shout outs – my buddy Ken Lee is proogressing (sorry, all the Canadian hasn’t rubbed off) nicely in his attempt to get to all 30 ballparks this season. Ken is halfway home as of today with 15 ballparks in the books. Ken’s attempt is a bit more daunting since he lives in the Seattle area and other than Safeco Park; he has a long way to go to get to another ballpark. Follow Ken’s travels on his website

My other shout out is to SGT R.J. Breisacher of Toledo, OH who recently got out of the army and to celebrate his successful tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is driving to all 30 ballparks this season. R.J. is also at the halfway point as of today and will now be embarking on the western US part of his mission. You can follow R.J.’s travels on his website

One other update is I have secured the domain name justacubfan.com. It will be linked to this current web address and over the next month or so I will change the main domain over to the new address. I hope you understood that last sentence because I didn’t. The website may take on a different look but everything else will stay the same and all the info will still be here. No need to change bookmarks for the 3 of you who have my site bookmarked, both addresses will get you to this site. 

The reason for the new address is to hopefully reach a broader audience. I have found that some people enjoy reading my
senseless dribble and I’m all for expanding the dribble. I have visited other sites by bloggers who have attached themselves to the Cubs; they have great websites but are more about the details of the team and games. I on the other hand offer a unique view about being ‘Just a Cub Fan.’ The hope is I will build a fairly good sized audience, one that will assist me in my lifelong dream of being a guest on the Lead-Off Man, throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field and leading the crowd in ‘Take me out to the Ballgame’ during the 7th inning stretch. Those may seem like lofty goals, but I got my amazing wife Charlie to marry a schlubo like me, so these should be a piece of cake.

I guess that about does it for my weekend with Chuck mini-series. I have to say it was a great experience and one that I will cherish for some time. So for now this is so long and good bye where it is now May, time to fire up the next 12 months of Christmas gift. Very well done Mr. Quinn, very well done indeed!

The last we spoke in part 1 of my Weekend with Chuck blog, back on 4/21 my neighbor Dan Francis and I were helping out fellow ballpark chaser Chuck Booth in his attempt at breaking the Guinness record of seeing a ballgame at all 30 ballparks in less than 24 days. We had just left Wrigley Field and had a little over 3 hours to get from Wrigleyville to Milwaukee for the first pitch of the Rockies – Brewers game. Well not to yada, yada, yada the story but yada, yada, yada we made it on time. 

Sorry– how boring! Where is the suspense, Bob? Well there was none. It took us about 20 minutes to get onto the Edens Expressway after leaving Wrigley and then another 80 minutes to go the remaining 86 miles (I hope that last sentence can’t stand up in court.) We got to Miller Park 90 minutes before first pitch. The only suspense was could we finish the beer in our cooler before heading into the park. Sadly we failed this part of the mission and left one beer for the beer Gods.

I know for me the adrenalin rush was over once we parked at Miller Park. Dan and I fulfilled our duties and Chuck’s record attempt would live another day all because we followed the simple rule of “proper preparation prevents a piss poor performance.” We scoped out the perfect parking spot, had the getaway plan all set like we were robbing a bank. I was the driver and Dan the lookout guy. I chose to be the driver because the lookout guy always seems to take two to the chest before the inevitable car chase. 

The other thing for me is that we had just left the greatest place on Earth, Wrigley Field, and now we were in Milwaukee in the parking lot of Miller Park. Kind of like the buzz kill of all ballpark buzz kills. Don’t get me wrong, I like going to Brewer games but it is for all the pregame tailgating – nobody tailgates like Wisconsinites or is it Wisconsiners, Wisconsinonians. Here’s a question for you – what do you call a person from Connecticut? No, not that. I’ll let you stew on that one for a bit.

The game itself was a dud. The roof at Miller Park was closed due to the sub 50 degree temperature; I am not a fan of roofed baseball. For me baseball is better in unroofed conditions. Give me your cold, your rain, your wind, your huddled masses any day. But that’s me; I’m a huddled masses type of guy.

A few highlights from the game: 
During one of Ryan Braun’s at bats, I joked that FedEx should seize the opportunity and sponsor every Braun at bat for the first 50 games. Right after I said that, Braun hit a monster home run, a 440 foot shot to dead center. He must have super human hearing or something and hit an eff you Bob home run to shut me up. 

In the 2nd inning I felt something on my shoulder, I looked over and it was Chuck. Yep – he fell asleep. Luckily Guinness says you only have to be in the ballpark for every pitch, not coherently in the ballpark for the record to count which then led to a few innings of “Weekend at Bernie’s” jokes at Chuck’s expense. Hey Chuck, don't feel bad - I have fallen asleep many a time at old County Stadium, ahhh the memories or lack there of from our high school and college tailgating days.

And finally the coolest highlight of the night was the shout out the Brewers gave Chuck and me on the scoreboard. I have to thank my friends at the SADS Foundation. They had reached out to the Brewers PR department and got the scoreboard message set up. The other cool thing is the SADS group bypassed an opportunity to get their website on the scoreboard and in its place was the main shout out to Chuck. Those SADS folks are good people and it is moments like this that I am proud to say I am a
SADS Foundation volunteer.  

Dan and I headed out of the game early as it was a long day and we still had an hour or so drive home plus in a moment of shear madness, I offered to drive Chuck to Detroit the next morning for the 1 pm Ranger – Tiger game at Comerica Park. But we aren’t talking morning like the sun is up, coffee is brewing, Charlie is making one of her wonderful breakfasts that have the house smelling of cinnamon rolls morning. We are talking party people still on their way home morning, scary to go to Wal-Mart morning, 4:30 in the freaking morning…morning. I will save the trip to Detroit for part 3 of my weekend with Chuck blog coming to a computer screen near you soon.

My first ever two city baseball doubleheader was a success. I know Dan had a great time and is proud of his status as a ballpark chaser. Charlie and I had done our own Chicago sports doubleheader a few years back with our friend,
Royalty Tours USA President Gary Herman. We caught the noon Jets – Bears game at Soldier Field and the 6 pm CBJ – Blackhawk game at the United Center. That was the day that confirmed I hit the jackpot, I had a future wife that not only was willing to do the Chicago doubleheader, but just as crazy as I am and embraced the day and still brags about it to her friends and family.

Time for a quick update - a few blogs ago I introduced you to Ed and Jon Burnham, the father – son team from Michigan who are going to all 30 MLB ballparks this summer. If you missed it
here is the blog. I had mentioned in the blog that Jon caught a ball that was flipped into the crowd by an Indians player and he immediately searched out a kid to give the ball to. I also said how karma would repay them. Well it did, the very next day at Comerica Park an usher upgraded their seats from the heavens to the Club Seats for no reason other than just to be nice. Really cool how that karma stuff works.

Well that’s a wrap for today. Check back in a few days for my trip to Motown where I had the pleasure of meeting a truly wonderful family, the Salters. So for now this is so long and good bye where if you guessed a Nutmegger you have won. Tell the folks what they won Johnny. Well Bob, they have won an all-expenses paid link to the history of
Connecticut Wikipedia page. Wow, what amazing prizes we give out here at 30 Ballparks in one season. 
Ok so it's not a wrap, I would like to finish by saying I have fun with these blogs, telling stories of my ballpark travels and the people I met along the way in my own untrained writing style. But the real purpose is to keep the dream alive. What is the dream you ask? Well it is to continue to work to spread awareness and
raise some funds for the SADS Foundation all in the hopes WE can save a life. 

Thru the magic of social media I have added some new visitors to my site, some of whom have a very big following on
Twitter. My hope is maybe they will help, maybe they will share this page as well as the links to the SADS Foundation, maybe someone will visit the site and realize they know somebody who may have symptoms of one of the SADS conditions, maybe they will save a life. Please help remove the maybe.

 Ok, now it’s a wrap.

Craig Landgren is a visionary. Who is Craig Landgren? Well if you are asking then you have not become an official ballpark chaser. Craig started ballparkchasers.com back in 2008 or so for the sole intent of having a place for all of us ballpark traveling crazy people to meet and share stuff with each other. To date over 1,100 chasers have registered – see the little widget thing down to the right. Because of Craig’s vision, 3 of us chasers (and Dan) met up at Wrigley Field this past Saturday.

There are many levels to ballpark chasing. There is the casual chaser who goes to ballparks when they can. You have the bucket list chaser – the person who says before I join the angels in the outfield I want to see a game at all 30 MLB parks. There is the extreme chaser which is a guy such as me who go to all 30 during the course of one season. And there is Chuck Booth.

A few months back I saw that Chuck was going to give it a go this April and try to break his record of seeing a full game at all 30 ballparks in less than 24 consecutive days. The key for Guinness is that for a ballpark to qualify, Chuck has to be physically in the ballpark for every pitch of the game. If the game goes extra innings or has a rain delay, Chuck has to stay – if he leaves early in the eyes of Guinness the record is out the window. This fact makes the days with doubleheaders extremely important that the first game get over quickly and there is a logistics plan to get to the second ballpark in time
for the first pitch. 

I was excited to see Chuck had scheduled a doubleheader for 4/21 taking in the noon game at Wrigley and the 6:05 game in Milwaukee at Miller Park. I have never done a 2 ballpark doubleheader, so I emailed Chuck asking him if I could join him and assist in any way possible. The Chicago to Milwaukee run was in my wheel house as I know both cities and parks well. Chuck was happy that I would join him; he mentioned that another ballpark chaser, my friend Ken Lee, would be with him as well. Ken is a completed bucket list chaser who this summer is working on graduating to extreme chaser by going to all 30 MLB parks in one season. 

For those scoring at home, this is a heavy hitting lineup of MLB ballpark knowledge. Chuck and I are the only 2 people ever to complete the extreme chase 2 seasons in a row. We also have a completed bucket list chaser (and soon to be extreme chaser) in Ken Lee. And we have Dan.

My job for the doubleheader was to secure tickets to both games and thanks to Stubhub and eBay we got bleacher tix at Wrigley for $20 a pop and club box seats at Miller Park for $25 apiece. I also was to come up with the exit plan for Wrigley, more on this in a bit.

Let me get back to the bleachers for a bit. When I was in high school and college we usually sat in the bleachers because the tickets cost around $5 and it was what we could afford. I promised myself that when I got older and could afford better, these are things I would never do again:

1.   Drink crappy beer like Stroh’s, Olympia, Natural Light, Miller, Coors or Budweiser
2.   Buy lawn tickets for concerts at places where they have a lawn and a pavilion
3.   Own a car that didn’t have T Tops or an 8 track player. (Hey, it was the 80’s)
4.   Own underwear or socks that had holes in them
5.   Ride public transportation unless I lived in a huge city like New York or Chicago
6.   Shop at K-Mart
7.   Eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
8.   Go to a happy hour for the sole purpose of the free food
9.   Date a girl who wasn’t at least…(better keep that one in the vault)
10.  And never, ever sit in the bleachers at Wrigley Field again

It’s not that the bleachers are bad – they are actually a lot of fun; it’s just that they are not conducive for paying attention to the game plus all the seats are general admission. I like paying attention to the game and I really like knowing I have a regular admission seat.   

Sorry for the diversion and as Lindsey Nelson used to say –we now move to further action in the blog. If you don’t know what that means, you didn’t watch Notre Dame football highlights back in the 70’s and 80’s. 
Chuck’s original plan was to get to all 30 parks in 20 days. The thought was that 20 days is virtually impossible to break and if he had issues with weather, extra innings or travel mess ups he had 3 wiggle room days. As it has turned out, Chuck needed to wiggle it, just a little bit and use those 3 days. Air craft mechanical issues on 3 separate occasions forced cancelled or delayed flights that caused Chuck to not be at the park in time for the first pitch. Once Chuck lost the wiggle room days (that song is stuck in your head, isn’t it) the pressure was on us to ensure we had the perfect escape plan for  Wrigley. The parking around Wrigley is sparse and the traffic after the game can be brutal plus it is 4 miles to the nearest highway. Dan and I found what we thought was the perfect parking lot, but we would only know for sure after the game when it may have been too late (cue the dramatic music.)

After meeting at Murphy’s Bleachers for the obligatory pregame warm-up beer (or 3) we headed into the bleachers. As I was getting in line to enter the bleachers, I had a flood of memories from high school and college going to games with Donny “Cat” Ballou, Mark Clement and Tom “Crazy Mace” Macy. We used to get to Wrigley by 7 am to be first in line for the bleachers. We would draw straws to see who had to walk to Yum Yum Donuts for our breakfast. We took turns walking to the McDonald’s for our bio breaks with a quick stop at the Cubs player’s parking lot hoping to get an autograph. When the gates to the ballpark would open, we would quickly buy our tickets (tickets to the bleachers were only sold on day of game back then) making sure we had exact change to speed up the process. We would sprint up the ramps and would sit in the first row in the right field bleachers right at the 368 foot mark. We would chant “left field sucks” at the bums in the left field bleachers. We would hope to catch a home run during batting practice (never did) and all agreed that if we caught an opposing team home run during the game, it was being thrown back in true bleacher tradition (never caught one as well.)

Boy how things have changed. Bleacher seats are now sold in advance online; you can even buy season tickets for the bleachers. The cost of a ticket to the bleachers ranges from $30 to well over $100 depending on the day of the week and opponent. The bleachers used to be packed an hour or so before the game. Now with the tickets being sold in advance they didn’t get packed until the 1st inning. Sadly Yum Yum Donuts is no longer there, at least the McDonalds is for bio breaks. And they don’t chant “left field sucks” anymore. 

As for the game I can’t tell you too much. I know the Cubs won 6 to 1. Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro had 2 errors but did make up for it with a triple off the ivy in left field. I have no idea who scored the runs for the Cubs. I just looked at the box score and saw that Steve Clevenger had 3 hits for the Cubs– I didn’t even know he played; I just assumed Geo was behind the plate. I know that the people sitting around us raised $256 for some guy to put a replica baseball helmet of nachos on his head for 3 innings. We did chant“nacho hat” for a few innings urging him on. See, that’s the life in the bleachers. The game is secondary or even tertiary (yes, I had to pay a dime to use tertiary) to what’s going on in the bleachers. Did I have fun? Sure I did, but not $55 worth of fun which was the face value for the ticket, remember we only paid $20. Give me my Wrigley upper deck box seat for $65 any day and I could have told you what the pitch count was on each of Clevenger’s hits.

As the game was nearing the end we started getting ready for the trip to Milwaukee. The game was on pace for 2 hours and 45 minutes which would leave us 3 hours and 20 minutes to make it 90 miles. No worries except for in the bottom on the 9th Cubs closer Carlos Marmol came into the game. Marmol has been known to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory for the Cubs many a time. He can be wild and erratic and no lead, not even a 5 run lead is safe. But since I blew the suspense in the previous paragraph, Marmol had a 1-2-3 inning and off to Milwaukee we go. 

So did we make it on time to Milwaukee? I think I will save that for part 2 of my weekend with Chuck blog. I have to say I had a little fun with my friend Dan in this blog. Dan is our neighbor in McHenry, IL and he came along for the doubleheader. Dan is a casual baseball fan like most people but he held his own with the big dogs of ballpark chasing. Dan is also an expert on all things Wisconsin from best place to buy a brat, to best restroom on I-94 on your way to Madison to see a Badger game to scoring cheap tickets to Alpine Valley, pavilion not lawn - can’t violate rule #2 and lastly, to the best way to get to Miller Park. I was really happy Dan was able to come along and like it or not Dan; you are now an official ballpark chaser. Two ballparks in one day gains you automatic entry. 

I guess that’s about it, please check back in a few days to see if we made it to Milwaukee on time. I guess you could cheat and go online and oatmeal Chuck Booth. Ummm, oatmeal - Bob? - Inside joke, very inside joke. So for now this is so long and good bye where back in the day I would have put the nachos down my underwear for $256. Come to think of it, I think Crazy Mace did, hence the nickname.

Have you ever been to Vegas and as you walk along the Strip you get bombarded by those time share people? You just want to wear a t-shirt that says “I don’t want your bleeping time share!” Well this past Saturday at Busch Stadium my wife Charlie and I had the same experience and all I wanted was a t-shirt that said “Yes, we are keeping our ring!” More on this in a bit.

This past Saturday Charlie and I happened to find ourselves in St. Louis, at Busch Stadium no less. It was my stepson Brent’s 22nd birthday and as part of the celebration we got tickets to the Cub – Cards game. Brent is a lifelong Cards fan and attends St. Louis University. He also got to live the dream last October and was at games 6 and 7 of the World Series. 

This game would be my 4th in the new Busch, I had been in the old Busch a few times and even had my own World Series Game 6 memories from the 1982 World Series when the Cards beat the Brewers to force a game 7. Like Brent, I was in college at the time and a few of my fraternity brothers and I drove down from Normal, IL for the game. We scalped standing room only tickets for $8 and stood out in right field. Unlike Brent, I was not rooting for the Cards that day. Back then the Brewers where in the American League and were my second favorite team, mainly because we lived 45 minutes to Milwaukee and the drinking age in Wisconsin at the time was 18 – oh how we loved our beer, brats and 
Brewers back then. 

I was excited for this game, but more so for Brent. The Cards were receiving their World Series rings before the game and to commemorate that, the Cards gave every fan that had a ticket a replica ring. I have gotten my fair share of giveaway stuff at games, but this was by far the coolest thing I have ever gotten. It is a real ring, made of real metal and is actually fairly heavy. And it is huge. Since Charlie and I were wearing our Cub stuff, we had people left and right asking if we were keeping our rings. It actually got annoying. We had people give us sad, sob stories about wanting a ring for their grandparents who couldn’t make the game. I was like, give them yours and have them will it back to you.    

What wasn’t annoying is that I have come to expect to get some heckling wearing my Cub stuff to various ballparks and I was really ready to get a lot of it at Busch Stadium. But to my surprise, we got very little heckling. Maybe it’s the fact that Cards’ fans have ultimate bragging rights being World Champs or that the NRA convention was in St. Louis and they thought we were packing or they are starting to feel sorry for Cub fans, especially this season because it is shaping up to be a long summer for the Cubs. But the good news is that there will be plenty of good seats available at Wrigley for way, way under face value. Case in point, I just scored bleacher tickets for 4/21 for $20 a ticket. The face value of bleacher tickets for this game is $55. As you can see, I am a true Cub fan – always looking for the silver lining.

So now we have our rings, had a beer and toasted the baseball Gods, navigated thru the crowd, heard hundreds of sad, sob stories trying to get our rings and finally got to a picnic area in the ballpark. Since the forecast for the day was for heavy storms that would most likely delay the game for 2 hours – we wanted an area to comfortably hang out. Thankfully we did as the weather geeks got this one right.

Most times rain delays really suck. You are stuck in an area with a bunch of people, can’t really do much other than just stand around waiting out the storm. But not this day – turns out that the ballpark traveling father and son, Ed and Jon, who I had met the previous week in Cleveland were at the game. As we were hanging out and actually enjoying the rain delay, it struck me that almost 3 years to the day on April 12, 2009; I was at Busch Stadium for my 4th ballpark that season on my way to all 30. On that day, I was at Busch Stadium by myself, kind of lost, trying to find my way. Now fast forward 3 years, I am at Busch Stadium, not alone, happily married with a great stepson, albeit a Cards fan. All of us hanging out, having a great time during a rain delay.  Very cool how things work.

The game itself for Cub fans was a dud with the Cubs losing 5 to 1. The Cubs had a few chances to make it a game but the Cards made a play when they needed to. I guess that is the difference between winning and losing, making a play when you need to. The Cubs are now 103 years of needing to make a play or two.

I have now been to two ballparks this season on my way to I have no idea how many. Charlie pointed when we were hanging with Ed and Jon that I will be living vicariously (wow, I spelled that correctly without spell check) them this season. My feeling is that by the end of the season I will make it to a dozen or so ballparks. 

This upcoming weekend will be a doozy. During my 2009 and 2010 Quest I never did 2 ballparks in one day. Charlie and I did a Bears game at noon followed by a Hawks game at night, but never 2 ballparks in 2 cities. My friend Chuck Booth is the Guinness World Record holder of attending a full MLB game at all 30 ballparks in 24 days. This season he is attempting to break his record and is currently on pace to do it in 23 days. On Saturday we are going to Wrigley for a noon game and then high tailing it to Milwaukee for a 6:05 start. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, no need to worry – Chuck is on a Mission with Bob.

I guess this about wraps it up, check back next week for all the exciting details of my weekend with Chuck. So for now this is so long and good bye where I am definitely not lost and I have surely found my way. And yes, I am keeping my ring! Man these people won’t give up. 

A quick update today to let everyone know of my new Twitter account that has been set up in conjunction with the SADS Foundation https://twitter.com/#!/wheres_bob I will be updating my where abouts this summer and share photos from the road of all the great people I will be meeting.

I will be posting a new blog in a day or so with the update from our great weekend in St. Louis.

Hope to see you on Twitter and  happy Tweeting all!

Imagine your 10 year old son says to you one day that he would like to go to all the MLB ballparks when he gets older. You, as a dad, say “sure one day we will do that.” Fast forward 12 years to April 7, 2012 and you are at Progressive Field with your now 22 year old son at the first of the 30 MLB parks you will get to this season, all while making a 10 year olds dream come true. Let me introduce Ed and Jon Burnham who are that father/son team that this season will get to all 30 MLB parks and whom I had the pleasure of meeting this past Saturday in Cleveland.

This season I have decided to renew my love affair with baseball. During the 2009 and 2010 MLB seasons I was downright married to baseball. Last season I was fortunate to get married for real and with all the exciting things that surround getting married, baseball was not one of them. I actually got to more NHL hockey arenas, 5, than I did MLB ballparks, 3.

The other contributor to my lack of baseball interest was that the Cubs were not a fun team to watch or be a fan of. I will always love the Cubs but last season I was not in love with the team. Too much drama, bad management both on the field and off led to not a fun season. 
This season the Cubs team appears to be fun again. They are not a contender for the playoffs, but they are fun even when they lose. They are a bunch of no name guys who are fighting to make their mark in MLB. I like manager Dale Svuem who seems to be a level headed guy who has a plan. The players like him and will hopefully play hard for him. Theo is running the front office and made some moves in the off season shedding players who needed to get out of town. There are some potential stars in the minors, so there is hope for the future. 

So with the renewed love of baseball, on a whim this past Saturday I decided to take in the Blue Jay – Indian afternoon game in Cleveland. I checked Stubhub for a ticket and lo and behold, a single ticket in the first row behind the Indian dugout was for sale way below face value. After buying the ticket I had a feeling this was the same seat I had for my
Progressive Field game on June 14, 2009. As it turned out, it was the same seat.  

Fate actually struck twice for this game, Ed had found my website while doing research for their ballpark journey this summer and had contacted me to let me know they will be in St. Louis on April 14, the same game Charlie and I are taking Brent to as part of his birthday celebration. Turns out we were both in Cleveland this past Saturday and made a point to meet up prior to the game. 

I don’t know who was more excited that Saturday was their first game of the journey, me or Ed and Jon. After second thought, I think it was Ed because well… sorry can’t say because what was said in the Progressive Field picnic area will stay in the Progressive Field picnic area. Kind of like what happens in LAX while stalking a former Vice President of the United States will stay in LAX, right Charlie!?!?

We ended up talking for about 40 minutes. Ed told me the idea came about 12 years ago to go to all 30 ballparks. Since Jon is graduating college this year, Ed thought this would be as good a time as any to do the journey. Their schedule is a lot like mine was in 2009 and 2010, taking weekend trips to knock off ballparks with one long trip getting all 5 California ballparks along with Seattle and Arizona in a 7 day stretch. They start on opening weekend of the MLB season and will finish up in NYC on September 22 or 23. They will add a few other cool things along the way, taking in the College World Series in Omaha as well as the Alabama – Michigan football game in Texas. All in all a very cool summer planned!

After chatting it was game time – they wanted to walk around the park and see all that there is to see at Progressive and I
headed to watch the game and we planned to meet up after the game. The game itself turned out to be great. Toronto pitcher Brandon Morrow and Indian pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez each took no-hitters into the 6th inning, actually Jimenez was perfect into the 6th. That’s when ESPN struck and started reporting that each had a no hitter and effectively put the whammy on the no hitters, Morrow giving his up in the 6th and Jimenez in the 7th.   

Now if you remember my Progressive game from 2009, sitting in that exact seat, and saw Cliff Lee take a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Cardinals (which you won’t because only I remember stuff like this but to refresh your memory here is my blog from that Indian game in 2009 – just hit the link and scroll down to the second blog on the page
http://30ballparks-in-1season.com/june-2009-blogs.html )

This is the 3rd time I have been at a game when a pitcher took a no hitter into the 7th inning and in all 3 they ended in the 7th or 8th. And in all 3 I blame the Worldwide Leader – you know ESPN – for broadcasting to everyone that so and so has a no no going and in effect jinxing the no-hitter. ESPN needs to come up with a code word for a no hitter or perfect game that is in the works and also, don’t use the code word until we are in the 8th inning. The broadcaster can say something like; Ubaldo Jimenez is playing duck, duck, goose with the Blue Jays today. Baseball fans will quickly learn that duck, duck, goose means turn on that game because something great is happening and you don’t want to miss it. So to you, my loyal readers – contact your local ESPN station and inform them of the new Bobby D duck, duck, goose code word for no-hitters, hopefully it will catch on and soon. 

Once the no-hitters were ruined by ESPN the game turned out to be a good one. The Blue Jays took a 3 – 2 lead into the bottom of the 9th when Assdroopall (using my sound out spelling technique) Cabrera hit a homer to tie the game. The
Jays ended up winning in the 12th inning which meant for their first of 30 games; Ed and Jon got some free baseball. 

In the top of the 10th I had sent Ed a text to let him know all the seats around me were empty (yes I showered before the game) and they should come on down which they quickly did. After each inning as the Indians were coming off the field, the player who caught the last out would flip the ball into the crowd around the dugout. Jon had just sat down and bammo, the ball was flipped to him. I had been sitting there all game and nothing flipped to me, only at me. Here Jon is, sitting in technically illegal seats, gets a ball. But not to worry, our hero, without hesitation, gets up and looks around and then flips the ball to a little kid around 10 years old. Very cool move, Jon. I think karma will repay you guys along the

With that ballpark one was in the books for our new traveling heroes and they were on to Detroit for the Sunday’s Tigers game against the Red Sox which also turned out to be an 11 inning classic, more free baseball. And get this, the other Cabrera, Miguel, hit a game tying 3 run homer in the bottom of the 9th and then Alex Avila hitting a walk off 2 run homer in the 11th. Luckily the Cardinals don’t have a Cabrera on their roster as next Saturday we see my beloved Cubs take on the Cardinals in St. Louis.

I guess that brings an end to the Cleveland blog. Next up will be St. Louis this upcoming weekend and World Series Ring Day where each of us in attendance will get a replica ring. You know I will be checking eBay to see how much these puppies will be going for. So for now this is so long and good bye where I wonder what will happen first, ESPN picks up the duck, duck, goose code word for no-hitters or the Cubs win the World Series. I think Vegas just set the odds on favorite as Neither.