As you can tell from this article, writer Paul Ruschmann is a certified beer traveler and a certifiable baseball nut—but he’s not alone in those twin passions. In an excerpt from a 2005 online review originally posted on his web site, Ruschmann took stock of the ramblings of two other ballpark nomads, as documented in The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip, authored by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O’Connell.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip weighs in at 544 pages, and it’s aimed at serious baseball pilgrims. But it’s anything but dry. The authors keep it light and lively, yet resist the temptation to play comedian. And they did their homework. You’ll find all the basics, starting with know-before-you-go details like what you’ll find in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park and the significance of those Morse Code symbols on Fenway Park’s scoreboard. There’s the history of each ballpark and, for cities with brand-new parks, a look at where the home team used to play. Park descriptions include quirky features like the vegetable gardens in the Mets’ bullpen, and get-a-life ballpark characters like Oakland’s “anti-fan,” who roots for whoever the Athletics are playing.
They also provide essential game-day information. Their directions to the park are not just for drivers but also for those who use public transportation―indispensable in those cities where having a car reduces mobility. They offer a section-by-section review of the seating, complete with warnings about “sunburn sections,” overhangs and pillars, and seats targeted by pigeons; and they pinpoint the best places to snag batting practice homers and get autographs. They even found out—presumably, not through personal experience―what’s the easiest park to get ejected from. My favorite piece of advice concerns seat-hopping protocol: “Load your arms with food and drink, then stumble toward an open seat while pretending to study your ticket stub.” I wonder if the ushers have wised up to this one.
Putting their book to the ultimate test, I compared the authors’ notes against those from my recent ballpark trips. They found the celebrities in the crowd mural at Tropicana Field, spotted the roaming newspaper vendors at PNC Park, and noticed that the tigers’ eyes light up on the Comerica Park scoreboard after home runs. They even got the recipe for Cincinnati chili right. Well done.
On a strikeout-to-home run scale, The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip earns a solid triple. Here’s hoping plans are in the works for a second edition. If they are, Pahigian and O’Connell have a standing offer for a beer the next time they’re in Detroit.