Journal Regulars columnist Jim Wharton of Sioux City takes you along on a 14-day bus trip to 10 different Major League Baseball stadiums and games this month.
June 24 Chicago, Ill.
All good things must come to an end and that’s where I find myself this morning. As this note is written, our motor coach, a.k.a. “bus,” is rolling west just outside of Chicago. We are on the way home and I’m ready to get back to Sioux City. The last overnight stop wasn’t the best. My room in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said “no smoking,” but when you walk in and there are burn marks in the carpet and the place smells like the poker room at the old Argosy casino you know someone has broken the rules. The front desk guy just shrugged his shoulders.
The final game of our 10-game schedule took us to Wrigley Field and, yes, there was pigeon poop on some seats, but not mine. I’ve had so many friends chuckle about the pigeon poop comment from my Regulars column a few weeks ago that I feel compelled to tell you that the situation still exists.
As someone who grew up in central Illinois, I’ve never burned any daylight dwelling on the Young Bears. But it is time for me to admit that these guys have a pretty good team. In two days they have faced Kershaw and Greinke and come away with two wins. The game had some strange situations that you don’t see every day.
You probably have seen the catch a fan made of a foul ball near first base. The young man caught the ball in his right hand while holding and feeding a baby with his other arm. He was eventually charged with fan interference but the catch made the Top 10 highlight list on ESPN.
In the 10th inning, the Dodgers employed a five-man infield, but eventually lost 1-0. It was a great game and a good way to end the journey.
Enough of the Cubs.
Now, my final ranking of my experiences on this 14-day trip:
Best Ground Crew – Yankee Stadium and their YMCA routine
Best Local Brew – Iron City Light at PNC Park in Pittsburgh
Best Mascot – The Philly Phanatic
Best Mascot Race – The Sausage Race at Miller Park in Milwaukee
Best Scoreboard – Comerica Park in Detroit
Best Giveaway – Mike Hargrove jersey at Progressive Field in Cleveland
Best National Anthem – Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Most Unique Food – (tie) The Schmitter in Philadelphia and Hot Dog Stuffed with pierogi in Cleveland
Best Bargain Concessions – Progressive Field in Cleveland
Best Customer Service – (tie) Progressive Field in Cleveland and Nationals Park in Washington
Best Vendors – Citi Field in New York
Jacked-Up Fan Award – (tie) Citi Field in New York and Wrigley Field in Chicago
Best Hot Dog – the Charred Dog in Cleveland
The Best Game – Max Scherzer’s no hitter
Most Picturesque – PNC Park in Pittsburgh
As I close this series of blogs, it’s important I mention a few folks.
Our bus driver Bruce – great job. Driving a motor coach, a.k.a. bus, in New York City and Chicago is no easy task. You are the best.
Tour director Steve Crawford from WNAX. Radio guys get it. Steve was the perfect leader.
One of our good friends who left with us on June 11 but did not return with us on June 24 is Ray Isaacson. Ray and his wife Pat were part of our original group of 42, but Ray became critically ill on the trip and remains in a New York City hospital. I speak for our whole group when I say we are all praying for Ray and his family.
In closing, my thanks to Mike Gors and the Sioux City Journal for allowing me to share my stories with you. The response I have received is humbling and I appreciate all of the kind comments you have shared with me (other than the nasty one I received from Milwaukee).
I hope you have enjoyed the journey.
See you at the ball park!