Episode 138 — Gary Livingston: College Baseball Radio, the Inner Workings of the Texas League, & The Campaign to Bring Back Bat Night!

Gary Livingston is a Chicago Cubs fan living near San Antonio, Texas. We dive into Gary’s love for the game, rooted in his Chicago upbringing and fueled by memorable experiences like attending his first game at Wrigley Field on bat night.

Gary shares his experiences working in minor league baseball, covering everything from college radio to interning with the Texas Rangers, and working in the Double-A Texas League. He also shares stories of memorable moments with rising stars like Adam Jones and Felix Hernandez during his time with the San Antonio Missions and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the sport.

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Read the full transcript

[00:00:43] Anna: What’s up bucketheads? Thanks for tuning in and welcome to episode number 138 of the Baseball Bucket List Podcast. I’m your host, Anna DiTommaso, and each week on the show I speak with a different baseball fan about their favorite memories, what’s left on their baseball bucket list, and what the game of baseball means to them.

[00:00:59] Anna: This week, I sat down with Gary Livingston from just outside of San Antonio, TX. Gary is a life-time Cubs fan thanks to his Chicago up brining and the memorable experience of attending his first game at Wrigley Field on bat night. 

[00:01:12] Anna: Gary shares his experiences working various jobs related to baseball. Everything from college radio to interning in the ticket office with the Texas Rangers, to working in the Double-A Texas League, and running some game ops for the minor league San Antonio Missions. 

[00:01:27] Anna: He’s also just 4 stops shy of hitting all 30 MLB active parks, so we touch on his best tips for enjoying ballparks and cities along the way. 

[00:01:35] Anna: Gary was a ton of fun and this interview was a good one, so let’s jump straight in. Now, without further ado, sit back, relax, and enjoy some baseball banter with Gary Livingston.

[00:01:46] Anna: Gary, thank you so much for joining us today on the Baseball Bucket List. How are things just outside of San Antonio a little down south?

[00:01:53] Gary: Yeah. Down South. And it is a cold here. We don’t, we don’t get this weather that much, but last week it was in like the thirties and twenties and this week it’s warmed up a little, but it’s so rainy. Just rain every day so far. So it’s, uh, it’s been interesting. My dogs don’t like it at all. They’ve been keeping me up.

[00:02:11] Anna: Ours either like they, uh, they kind of refuse to go outside if the ground is wet, you know. They’re like allergic to water or something like that. But yeah, I’m with you. Like we’re not used to this cold rainy season and it’s been brutal the

[00:02:26] Gary: not at all.

[00:02:26] Anna: Yeah, it’s been bad.

[00:02:28] Gary: Were you here three years ago when it snowed and like everything was shut down? Yeah. So I’m originally from Chicago, so I’m used or I’m not used to it, but I know about it. And when it snows here, it’s just, it’s a mess. People don’t want to drive. Don’t want to do anything.

[00:02:44] Anna: exactly. Yeah, it’s, uh, I imagine the Northerners and the Midwesterners are laughing at all of us, but, uh, we handle the heat a little better. So, you know, the first question I’m going to ask you is how is it that you fell in love with the game of baseball?

[00:03:01] Gary: Uh, yeah. So it’s, you know, baseball is just one of those, like. magical sports. It’s just, it’s so fun to watch. It’s so fun to be a part of. And I guess it’s because, like I just said, I’m from Chicago and I, I was born in the perfect year, I think. I was born in 1980. So not only did I have a decade of awesome music and awesome movies, but, uh, the Chicago teams were really good, you know.

[00:03:25] Gary: Between like 85 and 2016, so, you know, just over 30 years, all five of the big sports teams won a championship. And so, if you were born around the age I was, you saw the Bears win. You know, you saw the Bulls with their dynasty, the Blackhawks with their dynasty. And then, whether you’re White Sox or Cubs, and I’m full Cubs.

[00:03:44] Gary: Um, you know, you saw them win as well. So, you know, when I was little. Would play baseball with my dad, you know, go outside and have a catch. I played tee ball. I played little league and, you know, in the late eighties, the Cubs were, they were really good and had some really good players. And so I wanted to play baseball so badly.

[00:04:03] Gary: And this is kind of a cool story, but my parents, for whatever reason, they didn’t buy me a baseball bat. And I couldn’t understand. I was like, go buy me a bat, you know, let’s, let’s play baseball, but they wouldn’t. And I even got so desperate. My dad was doing yard work one day and he was cutting down some limbs from the trees and I like made a bat out of one of the branches, you know, like a, like Willie Mays in the 1950s, you know, you see those pictures of him in New York playing.

[00:04:26] Gary: And, uh, so I didn’t understand why. And then it didn’t take long, but we, uh, I went to my first game at Wrigley. I forgot if I was seven or eight. And it was, uh, it was bat night at Wrigley and so that’s why they hadn’t bought me a baseball bat. So my first baseball game was at Wrigley. It was bat night. I got my first baseball bat.

[00:04:45] Gary: And, um, you know, I don’t remember much else from that game except, um. Whenever Andre Dawson come, came up to bat, the place just, no matter what you were doing, you froze and you watched the great Dawson, you know, it was just so electric in the stadium and been, uh, been hooked ever since. So that’s, you know, it’s, it’s just been a big part of my life as a teenager.

[00:05:08] Gary: So many great things happened in the nineties with baseball. I’m a voracious reader, so I just read as much as I could about all the greats from the. Twenties and thirties, you know, up to the fifties and stuff and doing research for this and trying to get prepared to answer your questions. I realized, wow, baseball’s been really involved in my life.

[00:05:25] Gary: Like I was, I was shocked. Like, oh my God, like almost everything in my life, I could pinpoint to something with, uh, with the game.

[00:05:32] Anna: That’s really neat. I think, uh, you know, when it becomes ingrained in your day to day life, you don’t necessarily wrap your head around that, but to take a step back and be like, Oh yeah, there it was there and there and there is pretty neat. But you mentioned bat day. And first of all, I think it’s really cool that your parents like stuck to.

[00:05:50] Anna: Not getting you a bat so that the first baseball bat you ever owned came from Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. And, uh, you know, I remember being a kid and going to bat day at, uh, what was the ballpark in Arlington at the time and how incredible it was to get like a Louisville slugger from, uh, You know, when you walk in the gate and everything and that’s something they stopped doing I guess for safety reasons 

[00:06:13] Anna: I don’t really know but the last year I was at Globe Life they they did Bat Day again So I got a Cory Seeger like replica bat walking through the gate 

[00:06:21] Anna: and I felt felt like I was about six years old again

[00:06:25] Gary: Yeah. I was going to ask, do they even do it anymore? It’s seems, seems kind of insane nowadays to think that 20, 000 kids are running around a stadium with a baseball bat. That

[00:06:34] Anna: Yeah

[00:06:35] Gary: not have been the greatest idea, you know, but, um, yeah, but I, I also have a Rangers bat because we moved to Dallas when I was 10.

[00:06:41] Gary: And so we went to the, uh, the old Arlington stadium a lot. And so I have a Rangers baseball bat from there as well. So I hope they still have it. If any, um, GMs or executives are listening, bring back Bat Day. The kids love it. Just give it to the kids though. Don’t give it to the

[00:06:55] Anna: Yeah. Well, they handed it to, they were, they did it last year and I know Chuck Morgan, the, the PA man for the Rangers who’s been with the organization for basically its entire existence except for one season, I think was the one, you know, he’s on the board for the team and he kind of spearheaded it because of what you’re saying.

[00:07:12] Anna: Like, that being such a big part of the, the early years of the franchise. But yeah, they gave it to folks when we walked inside, which I was shocked by. I was expecting to be handed something on the way out of the park, but we, we just carried 

[00:07:26] Anna: them around all day. Yeah.

[00:07:29] Gary: Glad to, glad to see some parks still do

[00:07:31] Anna: Yeah. It’s a cool giveaway for sure.

[00:07:32] Anna: For sure. So the second question I always ask is what your favorite team is, but I think we got our answer there. So you’re. living outside of San Antonio, it’s uh, you must watch MLB TV or?

[00:07:49] Gary: Yeah. Um, so luckily the past few years, uh, T Mobile is my carrier and they offer the, the package for free. You, you get like 5 days or something, you know, if you sign up for it. Um, but yeah, if I can, if I could afford it, I’ll, I’ll get the baseball package or I try to catch it as, as much as I can. I miss the days of, um, WGN though, you know, I miss the days where I came home from work or school or whatever.

[00:08:12] Gary: And I just turn on WGN. I know the Cubs would have their day game and, and yeah, kick, kick, My afternoon by watching them, but, uh, I find my ways.

[00:08:21] Anna: That’s fun. do you get to Wrigley much anymore or will you try to make an effort to see them when they’re maybe in Houston or, or, you know, up here in Arlington?

[00:08:31] Gary: Yeah. So between, um, 2000 and 2014, I managed to go almost every other year, every 3 years, you know, I went about 7 times up to Wrigley, uh, for various things in 2000. We had a family reunion. So when we went up there, it was actually my first trip to Wrigley since I was a kid. So that was special, uh, because like I said, we had moved to Texas, I’d lived in, uh, Dallas and then we moved to Houston and, you know, then I went to college, um, and actually I caught a ball while we were there.

[00:09:01] Gary: That’s one of, uh, my big memories. I caught a, a ball at Wrigley, got it signed by Sandy Alomar and, uh, Joe Girardi. So that was cool. yeah, so it, you know, been a bunch of times and haven’t been back since 2000. 14, uh, we went up there. I wanted to take my kids there for the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.

[00:09:21] Gary: And that was magical. We had a really good time there. Um, so we’re definitely want to get back. Haven’t been back since the championship, which is crazy, right? Like, I haven’t seen the trophy or the banners or the flags or anything. Um, so I definitely want to go back soon. And next year is my 40 or 2025 is my, uh, 45th birthday and my daughter’s 18th birthday.

[00:09:43] Gary: And so I’ve been telling her we’ll, we’ll go up there and, yeah. And have, uh, have a good time.

[00:09:48] Anna: Yeah, That sounds like a good plan. I mean, even I have been there after the championship. So, um, that’s,

[00:09:55] Gary: no, you’re rubbing it in now. You’re making me jealous.

[00:09:58] Anna: I’ve only been there one time though. So that’s, that’s all right. you’ve alluded to, I mean, I know you spent some time in the Dallas area as a kid, you said, but, um, you got a little more history with, with Texas and the Rangers in particular. So can we dig in a little bit to this internship that you had with the team?

[00:10:16] Anna: Yeah.

[00:10:17] Gary: Yeah, so, um, I went to Texas A& M and, um, worked at a radio station while I was there. Shout out to Louie and Chip, if you guys, uh, are listening. And out of college, I majored in journalism. So out of college, I was just trying to get on board with any team, any way I could. And I had a friend who worked, she managed to get hired in the ticketing department.

[00:10:39] Gary: And passed my resume along. And so for the entire 2003 season, I worked as an intern and helped in like the season ticket department. So it wasn’t, you know, PR or anything like that, but I still had a blast. I still got to help out season ticket holders. And one of the perks was on, on we had games, we would open the box, box office and, uh, help the customers as needed, but around the fourth or fifth inning, when things were dying down, they would then let us leave and we could go.

[00:11:08] Gary: Sit in the stands and, and watch the games and stuff. So I probably saw, uh, 60, 70 games at least. I don’t think I saw all 81, but I, I was definitely there for the majority of them. And, uh, probably the highlight that year, one of my big baseball memories was, that was the year Palmeiro was, uh, going for his 500th home run.

[00:11:26] Gary: And so every time he came up to bat, I would run from the box office and just run to the nearest section. And sure enough, when he hit his 500th, it landed about 10 rows. In front of me, and I was thinking, I was like, okay, I’m an employee of the Rangers. If I actually caught this thing, would they let me keep it or, you know, would I be allowed to get some money off of it or would I have to give it back?

[00:11:45] Gary: But luckily I didn’t have to make that decision. But yeah, that’s, uh, that’s about as close to real baseball history as I’ve seen and been a part of.

[00:11:53] Anna: that’s awesome. We were, we were living in Texas at the time. And, um, my dad and I had tickets to a game. I want to say he did that like sometime in the middle of the summer and we had picked our tickets ahead of, you know, we had no idea what kind of cadence he was on or what the trajectory was for him to hit number 500.

[00:12:13] Anna: But I remember it was like. Fairly close to happening at a game that we went to, but instead we were like a week late and that’s one of the bats I got is the replica Louisville slugger that said Raphael Palmeiro 500 home runs. So yeah, pretty 

[00:12:29] Gary: Awesome. We’re closer in our history than we thought,

[00:12:33] Anna: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So the internship with the Rangers, that’s not really your only foray kind of into the baseball world. You’ve had some other roles in minor league ball, right? Do you want to dive into those a bit?

[00:12:48] Gary: Yeah. Well, um, going back to college. Um, so when I started at the, uh, the radio station and it was a pretty big station to its WTAW was like one of the first am stations west of the Mississippi. And when I started in college, they actually, they split into 2 stations. So 1 was like an all sports station and 1 was.

[00:13:06] Gary: Your, your common am station and I worked for two guys again, Louie and chip and they had their own shows. And so I would board out for them or report for them. They would send me on assignments, you know, especially like astros and, uh, actually Dallas stars games too. I got to go to a few of those and, um, I just worked my way up to where.

[00:13:24] Gary: My last couple of years in college, I, I had a baseball show and we covered Aggie baseball. So I got to see some really cool moments with the, with the Aggie team and you know, we would interview various players and they were more than happy to be a part of it. Cause as you know, in the South football kind of gets, you know, everything.

[00:13:42] Gary: So, uh, they were, they were more than willing to help out and it was, it was really fun. Going to that. Um, so then after my internship in 03 with the Rangers, had a pretty good resume and I went to the baseball winter meetings, which were held in New Orleans that year and I met Tom Kaiser, who was the president of the Texas League.

[00:14:02] Gary: Uh, the Texas League is a double A. League and they at the time they had eight teams. I’m not sure about now and he brought me on to be his intern. So I worked right under the president and basically, you know did what needed to be done. I was kind of, I don’t want to say I was like a secretary, but I, I, I helped out and did the day to day stuff to, to help the league run, you know, like every Monday I was responsible for the, the webpage and I would have to write up stories about the, the big things that occurred.

[00:14:31] Gary: During that week with the teams and we would pick a player of the week and a pitcher of the week and I would have to go and get the trophies and mail them off. I would have to if the umps. Uh, kicked people out. I would actually be the one who sent the, uh, the fines to the players and the managers and, and stuff like that, you know, so it was, uh, it was fun, but that’s what brought me to San Antonio and part of the job was not only would I work with, uh, Mr.

[00:14:55] Gary: Kaiser, but then whenever our local baseball team, uh, the San Antonio missions, whenever they had a home game, I would then help out with them to doing game ops stuff. And so I worked, Right next to, uh, you know, I was the full board and stuff. Like I, I, I helped run the scoreboard. My buddy next to me named Jeff, he would do the sound.

[00:15:13] Gary: We had the PA guy on the other end, Stan. And Stan also did the PA for the Spurs. So it was, it was a big deal, you know, like it was, it was us. And we, uh, we, we just had a blast so much so that I, um, even after I got a normal job and stuff, I would still, for about three or four years, I still worked with the missions and did game stuff with them.

[00:15:33] Gary: And. Ran the scoreboard or did cameras or on field entertainment stuff and just had fun. Like I said, I, I went back and looked, I was like, oh my God, baseball’s been around me a long time. Like I’m, I’m surprised how much, uh, my life has been centered around the game.

[00:15:49] Anna: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you got like a really good close look at the inner workings of what it takes to run a league and, uh, you know, double A is a very. competitive level. That’s where I think a lot of players kind of, it becomes obvious who’s going to make it and who’s not, you know? So, 

[00:16:07] Gary: yeah.

[00:16:09] Anna: any cool stories kind of pop into mind about that time in your life?

[00:16:13] Gary: let’s see. I mean. There were some players you just knew were going to make it big, like, um, Adam Jones played for the Spurs, uh, not the Spurs, the Missions for a little while. Um, do you remember Uneski Betancourt? He played for Seattle. He was a really good shortstop.

[00:16:30] Gary: but probably the biggest, because of the Missions, they were the affiliate of the Mariners for about four years. They’re with the Padres now. And so I, I really worked with them when they were with the Mariners. So I saw, you know, Bettencourt and Jones who got traded to Baltimore. Um, but the big one would be, uh, King Felix, of course, you know, Felix Hernandez, the, uh, Cy Young pitcher.

[00:16:49] Gary: And, uh, he was only there for like two months. Like everyone knew he was, he was going up and, uh, there is a definite electricity every time he was starting. And that was cool to see some of those, those players.

[00:17:03] Anna: I can imagine when a guy like Felix Hernandez comes through that, like the moment he’s in town, everybody is scrambling because they know they’ve got maybe like four shots to see him play. And then, uh, you know, was it, was it like watching basically like a, you know, high school kid pitching to some little leaguers?

[00:17:23] Anna: Mm hmm.

[00:17:25] Gary: Oh yeah, he totally dominated and whenever he came in, you know, like, uh, the top scouts would come in too. So you would, you’d get to meet scouts from, from all over baseball. And even like, um, I remember, um, Harold Reynolds from, uh, ESPN, you know, the baseball tonight, he came in one time we got to meet him.

[00:17:43] Gary: Uh, I just thought of it. One of the biggest thrills was Ozzie Smith came to one of our games. And so we got to meet Ozzie Smith and I got to get his autograph and, and things like that. So it was. You know, the, the missions, unfortunately, they don’t have the best stadium and stuff, but it’s, it’s still double A baseball.

[00:17:58] Gary: And, you know, there, there’s still a lot of cool memories from that time. And, um, now it looks like, I think they’re up to triple a now, and it looks like San Antonio is about to build them a ballpark and actually make it more like centrally located downtown. So that’ll be really fun when they do that.

[00:18:13] Anna: Yeah, that’ll be exciting to see. Last question about that little part of your life there is, you know, looking back on, I know they were two majorly different roles, but looking back on your time with the Rangers as a major league organization and then the missions in Double-A, Was there one setting that, you know, you enjoyed more, like the, the overall culture or vibe of it?

[00:18:37] Anna: Or were they just so different that, you know, they were kind of each their own?

[00:18:41] Gary: Yeah. Um, good question, I guess, because I was interning in the ticket office and not really like a game. Or with, um, PR, if I would have done that, maybe I would have, I would say the Rangers, but the, uh, the people I met working with the missions I talked to this day, uh, Jeff’s a Longhorn and I’m an Aggie.

[00:19:03] Gary: So we, uh, you would almost think we’re enemies sometimes, you know, um, but yeah, it was, it was more fun, definitely being in the game control center and having all that equipment in front of you and, you know, like. Hitting the knobs and and stuff say cheer for you know, everyone cheer and then like they do it and you’re like, wow I just control that I made 3, 000 people get on their feet, you know So it’s I would say my time with the missions a little is a little more memorable But I did enjoy my time with the Rangers

[00:19:29] Anna: Yeah, that’s cool. I can imagine that that must be a very powerful feeling of, you know, making the crowd do what you want it to do. It’s pretty cool.

[00:19:37] Gary: Yeah,

[00:19:38] Anna: I want to pivot to ballpark travel a little bit because I know that you kind of have this new rule where you’re trying to get to at least one new park a year, but, , , you’re gonna kind of run out of them here pretty soon, aren’t you?

[00:19:50] Anna: Cause aren’t you sitting at 26 active and then you got a couple of defunct ones, you know, to your claim too.

[00:19:57] Gary: Yeah. That’s been another fun thing, uh, that I’ve done over the years. And, um, yeah, I’m at 26, um, current ones and then nine that have closed down, but it have in 2028. They’re talking, uh, like there might be three new stadiums, so I, I think it’ll always, there’s always going to be new ones and it’s, it’s kind of weird to think about because I remember in the 90s, the explosion of all the new stadiums, you know, starting with Camden and, and you just thought they would last forever, but I’m sure that’s what the people in the 60s thought.

[00:20:28] Gary: When all those multi purpose stadiums were built, you know, these don’t last forever and then they only lasted 30 years and here we are, we’re coming up on 30 years of, and it’s like, no, I want to hit 30. Um, but yeah, so I, um, I started from the time when I was like an adult. Started going, so I, 99 is the year I conserved my first year, and a buddy, a fraternity brother, me and him, his name is Matt, we went out to Arizona for a convention, and uh, they took us to the, the Diamondbacks, and then, so it kind of happened organically, you know, like I had always said, yeah, I want to hit all 30, and But I didn’t really like, when you’re young, you say things, you know, you don’t, you don’t really know what’s going to happen.

[00:21:09] Gary: But, but between like 99 and 07, I just took different trips, whether it was with my friends or, uh, with work, uh, with my wife, her and I, we went up to New York. It was like our first trip together by ourselves. And so we went to Yankee Stadium and we took the train up and went to Fenway. And, um, I had a buddy, Chad, he moved up to DC and I took big time advantage of that.

[00:21:31] Gary: I went and saw him a lot and, You know, like I’m a history nerd too. So we, I took full advantage of him being up there and we went and saw civil war sites and revolution sites. But one cool trip I did with him was we, we went up there. I had never been a Philly. So we drove from DC to Philly, saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, ran up the Rocky steps, of course.

[00:21:51] Gary: Uh, and then we caught a Philly’s game at noon, drove down to Baltimore, saw a Baltimore game at six and then drove back. so like, it, it kind of just happened organically, you know, I wanted to travel to the U S whenever I went. Saw a stadium and by the time I was like 25, 26, I’d been to about a third of them, you know, about 8 to 10 of them.

[00:22:09] Gary: And then after kids and taking a few years break, then I started planning it to where, okay, I’m now traveling specifically to see these stadiums and I’ll, the city will be like kind of the backdrop to it and, and still do cool things in the cities. But now the purpose is let’s start knocking these things out and um.

[00:22:29] Gary: You know, um, and I also found a couple of friends as well, um, in the San Antonio area who are big baseball fans and wanted to do it too. So like in oh nine, for instance, uh, my buddies, Jay and Steve and I, we drove up to Kansas city. Ate some barbecue, saw a Royals game, drove over to St. Louis, ate some barbecue, saw a Cardinals game, went to the Budweiser, uh, brewery, and then drove back through Dallas, saw a Rangers game and, and then came home, you know, and so anyone thinking of doing it, that’s my kind of like big recommendations is travel to like certain regions and hit like three or At a time, um, you know, 2013 did a Southern Cap where we did Padres, Dodgers, Angels, like three games and four nights in 2017.

[00:23:16] Gary: I did, um. It started out in Cleveland, saw the Indians, drove up to Detroit, saw the Tigers, with a stop at Michigan Stadium, by the way, and saw, uh, the University of Michigan play that day, saw the Tigers, then drove down to Cincinnati, you know, so just doing games like that has been, it’s been really fun, and, uh, this past year I went to both Oakland and San Francisco, finally saw Oracle, and wow, what a stadium, and yeah, so now I’m at 26, and just got four more to go.

[00:23:43] Anna: I think that’s such good advice to, to try to like kind of cluster them or group them together because that gives you the opportunity to kind of spread the trip out over a couple of days. Right. And so like, sounds like you and I are kind of in agreement that like. Baseball is a great way to see the country, and so you want to make sure that you’re leaving yourself enough room, enough time to actually appreciate everything outside of the ballpark, because, you know, these, these places are built where they are for a reason, and so taking some time to kind of experience the history that’s around them in certain cases and the, uh, the different cultural offerings is, uh, I think that should be a big part of everybody’s kind of ballpark travel.

[00:24:27] Gary: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Like, um, I think there’s a lot of cities in the U. S. I might not have seen if it wasn’t for baseball, you know, so when I I do go to them. I try to, again, the history nerd in me, I try to find historical places or, um, you know, the, the best food to eat, things like that. And, you know, I remember in Cleveland, just going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you know, and just, just seeing that and, and taking part in that.

[00:24:52] Gary: And, um, walking around the, I love getting to the stadium early and just walking around and seeing what’s in the area and, and trying the local foods and stuff, trying the local beers and just hanging out.

[00:25:04] Anna: Yeah. It’s a good time. It always is. What are the four left, the, the four active ones left?

[00:25:11] Gary: So one, I’m kind of embarrassed about because I’ve, I’ve been to this city a few times. Um, so I’m a teacher now and I do a student trips, , with my kiddos. And so one of the parks is Washington DC or the Washington Nationals. And I’ve been to DC so many times with my students, but it just, it hasn’t worked out the schedule wise or, or, you know, whatever.

[00:25:34] Gary: Um, and I’ve been. To a Nationals game. I saw him at RFK because again, my buddy Chad had moved up there. And so we went and saw RFK, but I haven’t been to the new Nationals. And it seems so easy with all those East coast stadiums so close to each other. So that’s actually one I’m probably going to knock out this year.

[00:25:49] Gary: Um, I’ve already looked at the dates and they’re actually playing the Cubs in September. And then the next day, the Orioles are playing the White Sox. So I think I’m going to do a little trip out of that. Um, after that though, it’s the tough ones because from where I’m located, it’s the three furthest from San Antonio.

[00:26:04] Gary: It’s Seattle. You know, way up there, , Toronto, way the other way, and then, uh, Minnesota. And I’ll probably do another quick trip for Minnesota. I have a friend up there who says, come up anytime, you know, I could stay with him. But Seattle and Toronto will be a little more difficult because my wife and I, we haven’t been there.

[00:26:23] Gary: And, uh, I don’t know. I don’t want to do like a quick trip there, you know, I want to go there and take in the cities and and make the most of it like see Niagara Falls when I go to Toronto and maybe go to Vancouver when I go to Seattle side. Those will be a little more expensive and a little more time consuming, but I’m hoping if I could do 1 per year.

[00:26:42] Gary: I’m hoping to finish by 2027. so I could have my 30 and then 2028. When Vegas, Kansas City, and your team Tampa open their new ones, it’ll drop down to 27, but then I’ll, I’ll have reason to, uh, to go back to those cities

[00:26:56] Anna: Yeah. That’s when the, uh, the continuing education part of it starts where you just have to, you have to keep your status. Yeah.

[00:27:04] Gary: know, I only tried two or three barbecue places the first time in Kansas City, so now, now I guess I gotta try some other ones when I go there. And, and Tampa, it was just a quick stop. We were, uh, we were doing a family trip in Florida. So we quickly drove to Tampa to see the game. So I didn’t really see the city.

[00:27:20] Gary: I just saw, you know, the stadium. So I’d like to see more of that.

[00:27:24] Anna: yeah. It’s a fun place to be. It’ll be a good trip when you, when, uh, They build that new 

[00:27:29] Gary: So are you excited about the new stadium? Being a

[00:27:32] Gary: Rays fan, are you, are you looking forward to it? Or do you have a connection to the, the Trop?

[00:27:38] Anna: man. I am, like, 50 50 split on it. Like, if I’m being completely honest. Because, one, thrilled to death that the organization is staying in the area. Obviously, that is, you know, the best news. Also concerned about the The logistical issues of how difficult it is to get to The Trop and that being a major component in why the attendance is the way it is.

[00:28:06] Anna: So, uh, my biggest fear is that it will be a situation that plays out very similarly to the Miami ballpark where they got this nice, new, beautiful ballpark and it is still empty. And, uh, I don’t know, like it’s just wait and see, but I’m, I’m already seeing some opposition and. You know push back from the community as it is right now.

[00:28:27] Anna: So we’ll see if it if it gets that far I hope so. I really do but uh, I’ve waffled

[00:28:33] Gary: I

[00:28:33] Gary: remember 

[00:28:34] Anna: forth. 

[00:28:35] Gary: the drive there was so painful.

[00:28:37] Gary: Like, it just took so long. And, you know, of course we pulled up our apps. We’re like, Oh, look, no traffic, no traffic. And then. I’ll sign it. And we’re stuck on this bridge for like 30 minutes, we missed the start of the game. And, um, I’ll tell you what, the, the ushers were some of the nicest I’d ever seen.

[00:28:56] Gary: Like they were going all out to help you because they wanted you to still have a good experience. And, you know, they helped point us where the, the tanks were so we could pet the rays. And, you know, where various things were and recommending food. So I, I, I got to give it to the ushers. They, they definitely love their job.

[00:29:12] Gary: Definitely wanted to accommodate us, but man, it was, it’s brutal getting to that stadium.

[00:29:16] Anna: Yeah. And they’re putting it right where it is now, basically. So, you know, that, that aspect of it does not look as though it will improve, but, , I can tell you there will be an absolute riot in the Tampa Bay area if the rays, as in the actual, physical rays out in the outfield do not make it to the new ballpark.

[00:29:34] Anna: So,

[00:29:37] Gary: Awesome. My kids loved it. I think that’s the only thing they remember from that stadium. So

[00:29:42] Anna: Yeah. I love it too. I still, I still go see him every time I’m there.

[00:29:45] Gary: yeah, it’s very unique. It’s very cool that they, that they have that.

[00:29:49] Anna: what comes to mind if I ask you what your favorite baseball memory is?

[00:29:53] Gary: Oh, so again, I knew this question was coming and I jotted down some and I was like, wow, there’s so many. So I’m going to go through a few. And if you need to like, cut me off just to let me know, because, uh. You know, all these trips I’ve done and all these stadiums I’ve seen, it’s just been, been so, such a blessing, you know, and so fun.

[00:30:16] Gary: So, obviously the number one has to be 2016, has to be down three games to one, and then we come back and end 108 years of, of misery. Like, it’s just, it’s so hard to put into words what that meant to, to everyone, you know, and It’s literally like there was hardly anyone on earth who had ever, who was alive in 1908, who got to see it again, you know, so it was like something the world had never seen and to do it the way we did, of course, it’s going to go extra innings.

[00:30:47] Gary: Of course, there’s going to be a rain delay, you know, and, uh, probably lost like five years of my life watching that, that series or that whole playoffs, but it was, it was so worth it. So obviously, um, yeah. And as my wife knows, the amount of money I spent on championship shirts and memorabilia and autographs, you know, so 2016 will always be incredibly special to. Definitely Cubs fans, but I think even baseball fans. I think a lot of people appreciated that we finally ended that curse, just like when the Red Sox, you know, finally did it in 04, I think, uh, I think a lot of people watched and were happy with it. I talked about it earlier, but in 2014, took my daughters to Wrigley for the hundredth anniversary.

[00:31:29] Gary: That was really special. Um, we got there early, you know, took sign, took pictures in front of the red sign, went in, got some great pictures right behind home plate, and we were kind of hanging out by the dugout and. I didn’t even know this was happening. I didn’t even see it. They just, I just wanted some pictures of my girls and one of the workers for the Cubs walked right up to them and gave them each a baseball, you know, it’s like, Oh my God, how cool is this?

[00:31:53] Gary: Like their first Cubs game. So we went and got their certificates. And so now we have like this little display with the, the baseball and the certificates that say my first game at Wrigley and I’m a little collage of all the pictures. So that was special,

[00:32:08] Gary: let’s see. So I did a cool road trip in 03. , it was with, uh, a buddy of mine, Andrew and two other Robin, uh, Jason, we, um, all Cubs fans and the, the Cubs in 03, they won the division. It was the first time they had won the division since 89 and it, um, We, we stayed up and, you know, we, we tried our best to get tickets back.

[00:32:32] Gary: The first round back then was best of five and we ended up getting tickets. They were playing the Braves and we ended up getting tickets for game four. All right. So the Cubs win game one and we’re like, yeah, all right, go. And then they lost game two, which was kind of sad, but then it was like, well. Now, now we get to go and maybe they’ll, they’ll win the, the playoffs, you know, with, with us there.

[00:32:53] Gary: And so we drove all night. , we, I lived in Dallas at the time. I was a, you know, intern with the Rangers. So we drove all night. , and we listened to game three on the way there. We were going through like Missouri, or I don’t even know where we were at Missouri, Southern Illinois. And, and the Cubs won. So now we’re like really excited ’cause we’re like, we’re gonna be there for game four, we’re gonna gonna see them win.

[00:33:10] Gary: You know, so we, we get to Chicago, we hang out, do a few touristy things. We go to the game that night and of course they lose. Uh, and it was, it was just heartbreaking. I was like, Oh no, here we go again. So now we have to drive back to Texas and we’re listening to game five on the way and the, the Cubs pull it out and we’re just all happy.

[00:33:30] Gary: My friend, Andrew, who’s driving, he let. He can’t even concentrate. We had to pull over and we’re all screaming and yelling because, believe it or not, that 03 win when we beat the Braves to advance to the NLCS, that was the first, um, playoff series. The Cubs had won since 1908, you know, because there weren’t playoffs up until 1969.

[00:33:50] Gary: You just, you win the AL, you win the NL, boom, you go to the World Series, you know? And so, and then up until the mid nineties, when they created three divisions with the one wild card, it was. You know, the winner of the two divisions play each other in the NLCS or ALCS. And so the Cubs lost in 84, they lost in 89, uh, they lost the wildcard in 98.

[00:34:09] Gary: So they had never won a playoff series until 03. And it’s too bad they couldn’t do it in game four. But we got to hear it on the road. I forgot where we were again, like somewhere in Arkansas. We’re all around this side of the road, just celebrating, uh, let’s see, uh, my 30th birthday. My buddies and I and my dad actually went up to Chicago for my 30th birthday and got to see a Blackhawk playoff game.

[00:34:33] Gary: Um, and that’s the year they went on to win their first cup, so that was cool. Went to Wrigley, of course, for that one. And then I would say another one, um, doesn’t involve Wrigley, okay, non Wrigley story here, folks. , this one is Yankee Stadium. We, uh, took my daughters up to, to New York in 2015 and they were playing the Red Sox.

[00:34:54] Gary: And somehow we managed to get tickets in the outfield. So we’re in the bleachers. And I don’t know if every section in the outfield does this, but the section we were in, but, like, when the first inning starts, everyone in the stands claps the name. Of the Yankee position players, you know, and they go around and they’ll, you know, like Jeter, Jeter, Jeter until, and they shout it until Jeter looks at the stands and acknowledge, you know, like, okay, okay, guys.

[00:35:19] Gary: Okay. You know, so, so we were in that section and they’re doing it. And of course, the, the. Red Sox suck tear starts and my daughter who was only like, you know, 10 at that. No, not even 10. She’s eight at the time. Starts getting into it, you know, Red Sox suck, Red Sox suck. So sorry to the Boston fans listening, but it was cute.

[00:35:35] Gary: It was a, you know, a little eight year old and um, Sandoval was on the Red Sox. And so they were making fun of him. You know, they started to eat a salad cheer. And again, my daughter. Getting involved in this, it’s like, it was great. It was so great watching, uh, watching those two get into it. And another cool part of the game was, they were about to put some people up on the Jumbotron and one of the ushers ran over, saw my daughters and said, Hey, can I take them down here?

[00:36:01] Gary: The cameras down here, we’re about to be on the Jumbotron. And we’re like, yeah, absolutely. You know, take them down. So luckily it was. An actual usher, not someone to describe the kids, right? So they, uh, they took my two daughters to the front row, and sure enough, next inning, boom, the camera’s right in their face, and my daughters, I got a picture of it, I took it out of the Jumbotron.

[00:36:19] Gary: They’re like, dead center, middle of the Jumbotron, Yankee Stadium, you know, cheering and stuff. So, uh, yeah, so that’s a great memory. Um, I could go on and on, but those, those really, uh, those are the ones that really, come to mind when, When I think about baseball and the memories and stuff,

[00:36:37] Anna: Yeah. They kind of run the gamut there, and I like how, uh, you know, they’re not all Cubs memories, and they’ve all got, it sounds like, , you know, different people involved from kind of different phases of your life, which is, again, one of the most beautiful things about the game is the way it just kind of weaves itself In and out of our relationships and things like that. So, what’s left on the baseball bucket list then, you know, what’s the, what’s the top thing?

[00:37:02] Gary: It’s funny you ask this because I just listened to your podcast from last week with Steve and how he had been traveling and in doing, uh, Japan and South Korea. So, um, again, I do student trips, so I’m, I’m doing a trip to Japan this summer. I have, uh, about 40 people that I’m taking and high, high up there is to try to see a game in, in Tokyo or, you know, Outskirts, wherever, and somewhere in Japan, but definitely, um, I’ll be looking into that, and I’m glad I listened to that one because I thought I could just walk up and buy a ticket, but according to Steve from last week, I can’t do that, and I know there’s like five, five or six teams just in the Tokyo area, so I would love to see a game there.

[00:37:44] Gary: I’m also thinking of, um, from Japan, kind of staying on my own and traveling a little bit, and I’m thinking of going to South Korea, and if I do that, I’ll definitely try to catch a game in Seoul. And yeah, so I’d say those, those are my immediate ones, you know, try to get the next four stadiums before they build the new ones, uh, try to see some international games.

[00:38:06] Gary: And, um, like I said earlier, maybe my daughter and I can celebrate our birthdays in April of 25. And, uh, and catch Wrigley again. It’s been too long. It’s been 11 years. Or 10 years now, but 11 at that time. So I need to, I need to get up there.

[00:38:19] Anna: Yeah, for sure. For sure. You do some major changes too. And, um, you know, I think international baseball is, it’s like, it’s something that’s at the very top of my list now, which was not always that way. But after chatting with, you know, so many different folks about it and hearing the, the accounts of being there firsthand.

[00:38:38] Anna: It’s definitely something that I got to do too. So totally relatable.

[00:38:43] Gary: Yeah, yeah. Maybe, um, Caribbean games too. You know, there’s such a hotbed for, for baseball talent. It would be pretty fun to, to see some games down there. And not a bad vacation

[00:38:54] Anna: no, not at all 

[00:38:55] Anna: Not 

[00:38:56] Gary: out on the beach and, and, and, and see it, yeah.

[00:38:59] Anna: Gary where should we send people to follow you online? Is there anywhere that that you kind of post your your ballpark travels?

[00:39:06] Gary: Yeah, I’m, I’m kind of lame. Yeah, I don’t I don’t really have a blog or a YouTube channel or anything like that, but I do love helping people. I do love connecting. Um, I’ve heard your other guys talk about it, but I am on baseball, that uh, that baseball park chasers group. They say I’m a top contributor, who knows, I think. I don’t know how you get that moniker, but, um, if, if people want to reach out to me, I would love to help you. Um, you know, I, I’d love to travel. I’ve been all over the world with my student trips and stuff. And I, that’s one thing I really excel in. So if anyone needs any tips or hints. What to do some history stuff to do along the way, just reach out to me on, on that app, or, I mean, you can look for me on Facebook.

[00:39:49] Gary: I I’m wearing my cub stuff and I’m at Wrigley in my picture surprise, surprise. Right? But, uh, I’m, I’m not hard to find if, if anyone wants to reach out and have any, uh, hints or tips. And if you guys could offer any, I’d, I’d love to hear it as well.

[00:40:03] Anna: Awesome. Gary, I’ve really enjoyed this. I can’t thank you enough for making time and sharing your stories and I look forward to hearing about, uh, you know, those last couple of parks and your 2025 journey to, uh, to Wrigley and all that good

[00:40:18] Gary: I’ll book a date with you in, uh, I’ll book a date with you in 27 when I do all 30 and I’ll come back and talk about all, all 30 of them.

[00:40:25] Anna: Yeah. We’ll do an extra innings episode. That sounds awesome. . 

[00:40:28] Gary: Thanks, 

[00:40:29] Anna: And that will wrap up this episode of the Baseball Bucket List Podcast. Special thanks to Gary Livingston for joining us to share those stories and memories. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, if you think you might like to be a guest on the show, head to baseballbucketlist.com/podcast and fill out an application. I’d absolutely love to hear from you. And if you find yourself enjoying the show each week, please take a moment to rate and review it in the podcast app of your choice. That really goes a long way in helping share the goodness of baseball by getting the show in front of new listeners. And, I would really appreciate it. That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you next episode.

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