Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Completing All Active Minor League Parks

When I reached Club 122 back in 2014, I started to think about completing another stadium quest, one that had been on my mind for several years: all active minor league ballparks. There are 160 venues in 14 leagues across the country, and when the 2014 season began, I had been to 78 that were active (and 18 others that were no longer operating as minor league ballparks), leaving 82 to go. In 2014, I added only 6 to the total, and lost one of those when Huntsville moved to Biloxi. The following season I visited 25 new stadiums, though again lost one as the Savannah Sand Gnats left for Columbia. Last year I had the summer off and managed to add another 29 (including Biloxi and Columbia) to bring the total to 136. During this past offseason, three teams moved, so I had 27 left on the list as the 2017 campaign opened.

I was able to combine the Mississippi Braves with a Blue Jays trip to St. Louis, and added the Florida Fire Frogs, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and Peoria Chiefs when the Blue Jays were in Atlanta and Milwaukee. A quick trip to North Carolina for the newly added Buies Creek Astros and Down East Wood Ducks, and then a weekend in Hartford for the Yard Goats eliminated those pesky geographic outliers and brought the total to 140.

My Northwest jaunt last month added another 14 parks, leaving just 6 to go. All of these are in the Midwest League's Eastern Division, and as luck would have it, the Jays are in Wrigley this season, so I can combine those two trips. Even better, the remaining six clubs (Fort Wayne TinCaps, Dayton Dragons, Lake County Captains, Great Lakes Loons, Lansing Lugnuts, and West Michigan Whitecaps) are perfectly scheduled in geographic order, so I can hit them all without any backtracking. I'll add in a couple of other games when the schedule allows, including my first Toronto FC match as they are in Chicago on Saturday night after the Jays. A Toronto road DH! Can't get much better than that.

Here's the full trip:
Thu, Aug 17 Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs 13:20
Fri, Aug 18 Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs 13:20
Sat, Aug 19 Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs 13:20
Sat, Aug 19 Toronto FC at Chicago Fire 19:00
Sun, Aug 20 Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago Cubs 13:20
Mon, Aug 21 Great Lakes Loons at Fort Wayne TinCaps 19:05
Tue, Aug 22 Bowling Green Hot Rods at Dayton Dragons 19:00
Wed, Aug 23 Fort Wayne TinCaps at Lake County Captains 12:00
Wed, Aug 23 Columbus Clippers at Toledo Mud Hens 18:30
Thu, Aug 24 New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers 13:05
Thu, Aug 24 Lansing Lugnuts at Great Lakes Loons 19:05
Fri, Aug 25 Fort Wayne TinCaps at Lansing Lugnuts 19:05
Sat, Aug 26 Bowling Green Hot Rods at West Michigan Whitecaps 19:00
Of course, rainouts are always a concern, and should I miss a game, the quest will probably be postponed until 2018. Follow along starting next week to see what happens.



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