Extra Innings: Matt & Tom Burns’ Epic Baseball Roadtrip Tradition

In this episode of Extra Innings, we welcome back father-son duo Matt and Tom Burns. We primarily discuss their 2023 summer baseball trip through the Mid Atlantic, where they saw 20 games in 21 days. You’ll hear from Matt and Tom how the pair makes sure to hit the cultural hot spots and local institutions of every town they pass through. They also share their advice for how to make your own baseball trip a success!

Follow along on Matt’s Twitter as the pair embarks on their next adventure this weekend. They’re traveling through the Eastern Midwest, hitting 23 ballparks in 23 days.

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Read the full transcript

[00:00:00] Tom: We’re going to fly from San Francisco to Chicago, we land and we go to a game.

[00:00:06] Tom: On the last day of our trip, we go to a game and then go to O’Hare and fly back. but along the way, we get to see games with these team names, Mudhens, Lugnuts, Skycarp, River Bandits, Loons, Leprechauns. Pit Spitters, Tin Caps, Storm Chasers, Sea Wolves, Rubber Ducks, Corn Belters, Lucky Horseshoes, Chinooks, Mallard Kingfish, and Timber Rattlers.

[00:00:42] Tom: How can you go wrong? 

[00:00:46] Anna: What’s up Bucketheads? Thanks for tuning in and welcome to another episode of extra innings on the baseball bucket list podcast. I’m your host Anna DiTommaso, and in the extra inning series, I catch up with former podcast guests to discuss bucket-list events and other important topics. On this episode, I’m joined by father and son duo, Matt and Tom Burns. 

[00:01:04] Anna: Matt and Tom were originally on the show in August of 2022, where they recapped their Pacific Northwest baseball trip, featuring 16 games in 17 days. I had such a blast chatting with them, following that trip. They do such a good job of sharing the unique features of each ballpark and town they traveled to. 

[00:01:21] Anna: On this episode, we primarily discuss their 2023 summer baseball trip through the mid Atlantic, where they saw 20 games in 21 days. You’d guess by their schedule that they really only have time to focus on baseball, but that’s simply not true. You’ll hear from Matt and Tom, how the pair makes sure to hit the cultural hotspots and local institutions of every town they pass through. And it’s all documented on Matt’s Twitter account and website mapping the path.com. 

[00:01:47] Anna: The duo isn’t done yet, either starting this week and they embarked on an Eastern Midwest trip featuring 23 ballparks in 23 days. We chat about their plans for the upcoming trip and the father and son’s advice for making your own baseball trip, a success. 

[00:02:02] Anna: This one was a blast, it has me itching for a baseball road trip. So let’s get started. Now without further ado. Sit back, relax and enjoy some extra baseball banter with Matt and Tom Burns. 

[00:02:13] Anna: Matt and Tom, thank y’all so much for coming back. For an episode of Extra Innings here, we’ve got a ton to cover, uh, but I am, uh, just thrilled to, to be chatting with you guys again.

[00:02:26] Anna: So Matt, tell us how you are and then Tom, tell us how you are.

[00:02:31] Matt: Oh, I’m doing great. I’m, uh, deep, deep, deep in planning right now for our next big trip, which will, I’m sure we’ll go over with the, uh, to the Eastern Midwest. Uh, and, uh, we’ve got 23 ballparks in 23 days for that trip, uh, which is the, uh, sort of craziest stunt baseball trip that we’ve done yet. Um, and we’ve done some big ones.

[00:02:52] Matt: and, uh, so I’m just doing tons and tons of planning for that. I’ve got a huge to do list of stuff to get ready. Uh, You know, get phones ready, get video ready, uh, get some more information ready, some research that I’m doing, that sort of thing.

[00:03:06] Anna: Yeah, I can imagine there’s a lot to do. Tom, what’s your, what’s your role in this? Are you like me? Like, when we go on trips, I’m basically just along for the ride.

[00:03:15] Tom: uh, to a large extent, that’s true. However, in the planning of it, I must say that, we talk to each other by email almost every day. And along the way, Matt researches the logistics and the rural routes and the museums and all the sites we’re going to see, historical and otherwise, and our food options.

[00:03:41] Tom: And then, We, we kind of react back and forth about what we would like to do and which we would prefer to do. It’s a very much mutual effort. so, uh, when we are doing the actual trip, I’m riding shotgun and, uh, most everything that we do. And this. Trip coming up in the Midwest is, is going to be truly, truly interesting.

[00:04:10] Anna: Yeah, I could not agree with you more. I mean, there’s so much to dive into. We’ve really got kind of three things to cover, so for folks who haven’t listened to Matt and Tom’s first interview, um, the last time we spoke on the show was August of 2022. They were fresh off of their Pacific Northwest trip. I mean, at the time I remember hearing that it was a whirlwind of a trip and I thought, you know, it’d be difficult to kind of go bigger and better than that.

[00:04:39] Anna: But. You know, you guys basically said, just, just sit back and watch this. So the, the August trip of 22, the Pacific Northwest, it was 17 games in 16 days. And, um, man, we had a great conversation about that last summer. I followed along on Twitter, your next marathon of a trip, which was 20 ballparks in 21 days.

[00:05:05] Anna: And that was. Pennsylvania and Virginia. I think you guys called it the Mid Atlantic road trip. So when we were speaking at the tail end of that interview, you know, my question was what’s left on the baseball bucket list? And you guys both kind of had the same answer of we want to do more things like this And so what I’d like to do is talk about last summer’s trip And then we’ll lead into kind of what’s to come this year.

[00:05:34] Anna: So, Matt, do you want to give us an overview as to kind of what these, um, you don’t have to list all 21, uh, 20 ballparks. Yeah, I’m sure you could have straight off the top of your head too, but just kind of give listeners, uh, you know, an overview as to kind of where you were and what you did and what levels of ball you saw and all that good stuff.

[00:05:55] Matt: Sure. Well, uh, last year’s trip was, uh, 20 ballparks in 21 days, as you said, in the Mid Atlantic region. And, uh, that included. 15 ballparks that were minor league ballparks. Also one, uh, the former minor league, Frederick Keys, that is now MLB draft league. When we saw them, it was an independent, uh, there’s part of the independent part of their season.

[00:06:20] Matt: They play the first part of their season as a collegiate league. Um, and then we have four, uh, also, uh, major League teams on our schedule. It’s not what we normally do, but when we have an open day, we will throw in some major league teams. And I know that sounds like the reverse of what you would want to do for, for most people, but for us it’s, it’s, uh, the experience is much better to mind league ballpark.

[00:06:40] Matt: It’s easier for, um, both of us to get around and, and, uh, and see everything. And just that, that’s why we’re here is really the minor leagues is, is, uh, our priority when we’re doing this.

[00:06:50] Anna: Tom, the last time we spoke, you mentioned just like your son said that The minor league parks just had a different feel about them. The community was different. The people in the ballpark were different. Are you sticking to that story now, even after you, you’ve been to a handful of major league ballparks in the same trip?

[00:07:11] ,

[00:07:11] Tom: Absolutely. The minor league games are, you know, what happens between innings is almost as much fun as the game itself with the spinning bat where the guys end up wobbling off in every different direction. And these big inflated balloons bouncing off each other and the game just goes on and on with all of that.

[00:07:38] Tom: And that’s why minor league is, is way more fun. One of the games we went to on the trip last year was Yankee Stadium. And I’m sure a lot of people say, Ooh, Yankee Stadium. First of all, we had to stand in line for 30 minutes. To wait to go through the security checkpoint 30 minutes. And they had two machines to go through.

[00:08:05] Tom: Then we’re sitting out in the left field bleachers. We were so far removed from the action. You could barely hear the crack of the bat. Uh, it was like there was a video going on a silent movie. It was terrible. The complete opposite of minor league games.

[00:08:26] Matt: But we did see somebody get kind of hauled away by the police in like the second inning. So I felt like I was getting an authentic experience in the left field bleachers.

[00:08:36] Anna: exactly, exactly. Oh man, you guys are a duo. I love this because it’s such a throwback to, you know, you have the radio duo or the TV duo where you kind of have the play by play guy and then like the color commentator who weaves in the stories and you guys are, just innately good at that. I, I love that we’re getting a little bit of, you know, bits and pieces of the logistical side along with, the, the story of actually being at the game.

[00:09:01] Anna: Cause. I, I close my eyes, I’m right there with you in the, in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. So uh, Matt, mappingthepath. com, that is your website where you’re basically writing a book. I mean, I don’t know how else to say it. It’s got to be hundreds of thousands of words by this point, recapping each of these trips that y’all have taken.

[00:09:23] Anna: Tom mentioned when we, when we started today, that you do a lot of stuff outside of baseball and, a lot of that’s covered in these, these blog posts where you’re kind of breaking the trip down day by day, but why don’t you tell us some of the things that you got into, uh, Outside of baseball.

[00:09:41] Matt: Absolutely. Well, you’re right. It is, uh, an incredible number of words, uh, so far on this trip alone, I think I wrote 37 chapters and 50, 000 words, which is like a 200 page book. Um, and I did it in two and a half months, which is the most intense writing I’ve ever done. I have a journalism background. So I, That’s why I’m doing this actually is to kind of get back into writing.

[00:10:05] Matt: but, uh, yes, I mean, aside from talking about all the different, you know, fun experiences and stories that we’ve had at the ballparks and some of the history of the teams and, and, uh, and the region, um, we get to see a lot of sites. We went to, um, you know, in New York city, we saw the statue of Liberty. Uh, we went to Ellis Island, we went to the top of the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial.

[00:10:27] Matt: Um, then all the way out to Coney Island for our Brooklyn Cyclones game. Um, you know, we saw lots and lots of art and history museums. That’s kind of our, our main thing. And then if we see it, if we get to a town and they’ve got, you know, an interesting museum, that’s unique to that area. So, you know, we went and boarded the USS Wisconsin and Norfolk and toured that, you know, something that is really, um, indicative of that region.

[00:10:51] Matt: Um, then that will definitely fill those things in. Um, we went to Coney Island. Cooperstown and Williamsport on this, so still baseball associated, but two shrines of baseball that we were able to add into the trip. and then like in, you know, Philadelphia, we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and went to the Museum of Art there, which is a really absolutely incredible museum.

[00:11:12] Matt: Um, so and the Met in New York and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. So these are things that we’re mixing in all along the way because we’re really interested in those things as well. And during the day, that’s what we do. We see the sites that the city has to offer in the time that we can allow. And then at night we go to the ballgame.

[00:11:31] Anna: I love it. It’s a life well lived. I think, you know, I, anybody listening to this is listening and nodding their head and saying like, yeah, that sounds pretty good. Tom, I know you plan some of the kind of external outside of baseball things. I know that food is a really big deal for you. So I want to hear.

[00:11:53] Anna: Like, what your favorite dining experience was either at a ballpark or outside last summer.

[00:12:00] Tom: was, uh, in fact, it was our, our second night and, um, gosh, his name is going out of my head right now.

[00:12:11] Matt: Chef Jose Andres.

[00:12:13] Tom: pardon me.

[00:12:14] Matt: Chef Jose Andres.

[00:12:15] Tom: Yes, that’s Zatinya. It was the most incredible meal. The place was jam packed and they just keep, kept bringing us these small, great little dishes with, it must’ve been six or eight of them during the meal and each one was better than the previous, and it was just, I mean, I’ve been to a lot of great restaurants, but that was just on a whole other level.

[00:12:47] Tom: That’s for sure.

[00:12:49] Matt: That’s in Washington, D. C. and it’s a Mediterranean place is Bon Appetit’s

[00:12:52] Tom: Yes,

[00:12:53] Anna: Okay. So it’s like tapas type thing. Oh yeah.

[00:12:57] Matt: good.

[00:12:58] Tom: yes,

[00:12:59] Anna: Yeah, that sounds incredible.

[00:13:01] Matt: We don’t get a lot of opportunities to have dinner, right? So most of the nights we’re having dinner at the ballpark, but then when the Sunday game, then we can throw in a little dinner and find something fun to do for those nights. Sure.

[00:13:12] Anna: that’s exciting. That’s, um, when you can sit down for a good meal, it just somehow makes the, the entire trip seem that much better. So, that’s good to hear. I wanna back up because you mentioned, you know, you spent some time up in New York, obviously. The Brooklyn Cyclones is a ballpark that I have not had a chance to go to, but one that I am probably most excited about, and so I’d love to hear first kind of the experience of what that game in particular was like, and then I’ve got a follow up question, but I’ll ask one at a time.

[00:13:44] Matt: Well, um, it, that was definitely one of the big ballparks on the list for me going into the trip. You’ve got the roller coaster going off in left field and some of the old, um, Coney Island things that are, that are not necessarily still operational, but still around the ballpark. Um, and it was, uh, it was, uh, they were having Christmas in July promotion, so it was a little unusual there.

[00:14:07] Matt: We had a lot of Christmas music playing, uh, in the middle of July, um, but it’s just, it’s got a very festive boardwalk, you know, feel to it. There’s all this neon lighting in the concourse, um, that, uh, just feels like you’re at, you’re at a carnival. and it’s, it’s, they really do a nice job of, uh, pulling that feeling through.

[00:14:25] Matt: Um, That night it was the, so we were dodging weather this entire trip for sure. And that night there was a little bit of rain and it, there was a period where the storm was coming through and it looked like a sandstorm. You could barely see what was happening on the field. It wasn’t like it was raining that hard, but it was just this really weird gray thing.

[00:14:43] Matt: And then by the end of the night, there was a rainbow going over the field, like ending right on Coney Island. And it just like, could not have been more like, you know, perfect as a, as a unique experience.

[00:14:54] Tom: when I was thinking of the, uh, ballparks on the last year’s trip, the Brooklyn Cyclones Maimonides Park was the one that I chose. And it was because of the, the roller coaster and the other amusement park rides constantly going on behind the outfield fence, it wasn’t a distraction. It was just really very interesting.

[00:15:20] Tom: And, uh, as Matt. Mentioned they were celebrating Christmas on that day and the on field announcer was dressed in a red suit. He was, uh, he was very fun. But the weirdest thing was that storm. The cloud came in and I’m not talking about being way high over the field. It came down and it was like this gray.

[00:15:48] Tom: Sandstorm 15 feet off the surface. It was totally bizarre and it lasted maybe eight minutes and then it was gone. And then as Matt pointed out at the end of the game, there was a rainbow. It was a totally unique ballpark experience.

[00:16:10] Anna: it’s one of those ones that I just. It seems so special just based on, you know, what I’ve seen from photos and to hear people talk about it, but, you know, just a unique backdrop. You, you see, a lot of times you see skylines from cities or mountains, you know, depending on which part of the country you’re in, but very few have.

[00:16:30] Anna: Uh, man made attractions out in the outfield. So it’s, it’s definitely high up on my list, which brings me to my next question, which is, obviously that ballpark seemed to be one that both of you were very excited about, and it sounds like it might’ve lived up to the expectations that you had in your heads.

[00:16:49] Anna: Were there any that were either, Way cooler than you were expecting or maybe a little bit of a letdown You know just a the opposite of kind of what you thought you were gonna see going in.

[00:17:01] Matt: Well, I didn’t think any of the ballparks we went to were let down. I, we rarely come away feeling like, you know, we got a bad experience from a minor league game. Um, everything is each ballpark is, is unique. I think that, you know, we had a lot of what made the trip amazing for us were some of the experiences that we had at the ballpark.

[00:17:20] Matt: So, you know, in Somerset seeing the Somerset Patriots, we were invited onto the field to do a chipping contest. Um, and, uh, Dad was a little dizzy. We had not, we had forgotten he’d lunch that day. and, uh, so when we got on the field and he said, okay, I can go through with it. And he’s got an excuse for losing the chipping contest, at least.

[00:17:38] Matt: Um, but, uh, then, and I got him an Italian ice right afterwards and he perked right up. So, um, but, uh, You know, that was really a fun, fun time, and I really appreciated the Patriots doing that for us in Reading. We were invited. We were on a local news program, so they wanted to cover the trip and what we were doing.

[00:17:58] Matt: We had a cameraman following us around for a couple of innings, and we were on the local news, and that was that was super fun. Uh, in Jersey Shore, uh, we, you know, that’s an amazing ballpark because you’ve got the, the miniature golf, uh, in, in, in right field. And then you’ve got, uh, the boardwalk games out in center field at night.

[00:18:16] Matt: It’s really kind of a fun, uh, boardwalk atmosphere. Uh, we got to throw out the first pitch that night. And when I say we, we are kind of a dual team here. So. I go on the mound. I threw out the pitch. Dad gets behind the catcher, and he calls a robust strike no matter where I threw that ball, uh, and I think it was a little inside that night, but I really appreciated this strike call, uh, and, uh, and so they were really nice to us, and then we went on the air in the second inning and talked to Greg Giambarese, who’s their broadcaster and communications VP, and, um, he, uh, chatted with us for an inning about our trip and what we’d seen along the Jersey shore and all that stuff.

[00:18:53] Matt: So I think it’s a lot of those kinds of experiences that really make everything, not just people doing things for us, but just the interesting, unique aspects of the ballpark uh, that, that make those experiences for us.

[00:19:03] Anna: Yeah, definitely I mean, I think that that’s that’s the theme we hear again and again, and it’s it’s true And it’s just you know, I love those types of stories Tom is there anything coming to your mind to add to what Matt said, you know any particular kind of moment That’s stuck out about last year’s trip

[00:19:22] Tom: it’s amazing how when he, when Matt begins speaking, he keeps picking off the, the ones that I was going to mention. You know, among other things, the miniature golf was, you know, it wasn’t Mickey Mouse, it was a legitimate uh, miniature golf course. And there were carousels and other rides.

[00:19:44] Tom: things provided to keep the kiddies involved. You know, I’m sure that the kids, when mom and dad said, you want to go to a game tonight? They would say, yeah, they didn’t care about the game because it was a total amusement park environment. And then as he mentioned, uh, Throwing out the first pitch. Anytime he throws it, it looks good to me.

[00:20:07] Tom: And then being interviewed on the, on the radio and in the score booth, uh, and then on TV, uh, the cameraman interviewed both of us. And then as Matt mentioned, he began following us around the park and it was definitely bizarre after the game. Go back to the hotel room, turn on the channel and there you are. Speaking about the game. It was, you know, it’s just so much fun

[00:20:41] Anna: Yeah.

[00:20:42] Matt: And I would say aside from like, from those kinds of, of experiences, like, We also met a lot of people. So there were people who were following us before the trip who met up with us at the ballparks in, you know, in Redding and, uh, uh, in, uh, Hudson Valley and other places where, you know, they are ballpark travelers too.

[00:21:01] Matt: And so they were fired up to meet us and introduce us to their ballpark. Um, you know, we, in, um. In Harrisburg, we went and got we met a guy who Joseph George who introduced us to the spot dog, which is an institution there in Harrisburg. And one of the very best things concessions we ate on the whole trip.

[00:21:22] Matt: I had a let’s see. It’s called the hot mess with spicy beef. Uh, barbecue sauce, shredded cheddar jack and onion straws, uh, on a dog. And, uh, that is, was just like mind blowing. Great. So having those kinds of people introduce us to, to experiences as well, uh, was really a part of the specialness. And then we had a couple of instances where we had, um, you know, minor league prospects, hot, hot minor league prospects that we got to see, we saw Jackson holiday.

[00:21:50] Matt: On our first game, um, in Bowie and, uh, then we saw Dylan Cruz, who was the LSU star make, he was the number two pick in the draft, just like a month before we saw him. And it was making his professional debut, uh, you know, in, uh,

[00:22:04] Tom: and what happened

[00:22:06] Matt: Well, so it was, I was kind of embarrassing. So it was his Uh, you know, his first game as a pro, um, it was Superman night.

[00:22:13] Matt: So they’re all wearing Superman jerseys. And, uh, he had a runner on first, when he got to the plate, he hit a sharp ball to third. He could see it was, it was going to be a double play. He ran as hard as he could to first and he fell face first, uh, like just stumbled and fell face first, almost outstretched like Superman, uh, and slid halfway between home and first, it was a inauspicious start to his pro career, but definitely picked it up since then.

[00:22:39] Anna: Uh,

[00:22:40] Tom: to say the least.

[00:22:41] Anna: yeah.

[00:22:41] Tom: I, speaking of things that happened during games, I can’t remember specifically, it might’ve been Delmarva, but in any case, one team, uh, uh, was being successful offensively and in about the fifth or sixth inning, they hit a grand slam. And to take a seven to nothing lead. So they go into the bottom of the ninth.

[00:23:06] Tom: We’re sticking around because we have to do a wrap up after the game, but it’s seven to nothing. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the home team hit a grand slam to tie the game at seven to seven. How weird is that? Two Grand Slams. Well, how weird? In the top of the 10th, the other team that hit the first Grand Slam hit another Grand Slam to win 11 7 or whatever.

[00:23:32] Tom: Craziness. Crazy.

[00:23:35] Anna: That’s wild. You saw more grand slams than some people see, you know, in their entire life inside of one night. So that’s fun. we were talking about last year how both of you had said that basically your baseball bucket list items are to do this on a bigger and better scale. Obviously, last year’s trip was a step above the prior year, and here, and later this summer, really just in a matter of a few weeks, you guys are turning your sights to the eastern Midwest of the U. S., where, I think you’re gonna up the ante even more, right? I 23 parks in 23 days, which is just amazing. My brain can’t really even begin to comprehend that but why don’t you talk a little bit about the You obviously again, don’t have to name all 23, although I know you could, you know, kind of the, the hotspots that y’all are going to hit later on this summer.

[00:24:31] Matt: sure. Well, we have, uh, we’re going to see all 14 minor league teams in the five states that are east of the Mississippi in the Midwest. So Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Um, and that was not easy to make the schedule that would hit all of those guys with our 6 game homestands and such. Um, but, uh, I did some fun planning this year.

[00:24:52] Matt: I put, uh, I put each week’s schedule into layers in Google Maps, uh, in my maps. And so I could turn on and off layers and kind of see patterns of where all the teams were, uh, for those weeks. Um, so that was, that was, uh, fun planning that. I suppose an AI could probably do that now. I just feed the schedules into an AI, but that’s like, you know, telling an AI to, uh, to do a puzzle for you.

[00:25:15] Matt: And it’s like, okay, well it’s done, but it didn’t, it wasn’t very much fun getting there. But in any case, this is all those teams. And then we also have four independent teams from two different leagues, the American Association and the Frontier League. And then we also have four collegiate league games in the Northwoods League and the Prospects League.

[00:25:37] Matt: Um, so we the imperative always is to see as many minor league ballparks as possible. And then where we have say, mondays that are open that other teams might be playing on or where there’s a gap that things don’t quite work out. We can, we can add some of these other teams there. for my part, the things I’m interested in seeing dad’s been to Wrigley Field.

[00:25:55] Matt: I’ve not been to Wrigley Field. That’s our one major league game for this trip. Um, so I’m very excited about that. Um, our first night is with the Chicago dogs. Um, Who are, uh, you know, an independent pro team. They get great turnout. It’s going to be a Saturday night. we’re going to, I’m going to have my first Chicago dog there.

[00:26:12] Matt: Uh, and, uh, it’s going to be Mardi Gras night. Uh, we’re going to get to meet, uh, Mike Trippi and Kelly Robinson and Kelly does the minor league nerd podcast on this network. And, so that’s going to be a blast. Uh, I’m also really excited about the Toledo Mudhens. I learned about minor league baseball from watching MASH.

[00:26:30] Matt: I didn’t know it existed until I saw Klinger wearing Toledo Mudhens stuff, uh, when I was a kid and it was, I was obsessed with that show. Um, so those are some of the ones that I’m, I’m really excited about

[00:26:41] Anna: Tom, what about you? Are, are you looking forward to being back at Wrigley and this time with your son?

[00:26:47] Tom: You know, when I went to Wrigley in 93, I was wearing shorts and a t shirt because it was like 74 degrees. It was wonderful afternoon game. And, uh, between the second and the fifth inning, uh, they announced this on the news at night. They had a weird temperature inversion where the temperature, I was sitting behind third base in the sun.

[00:27:12] Tom: Temperature dropped 18 degrees and the crowd either left or everybody moved over to the first base side where there was still sun. I left and went home. Anyway, I’ll be hoping to see a full game at Wrigley. But other things in Chicago, of course, have changed. The Art Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry, looking forward to that.

[00:27:36] Tom: But also, later on, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, can’t go wrong there. We’re going to the Baseball Heritage Museum. I’ve never even heard of that, so looking forward to that. Also, To the Bobblehead Hall of Fame. Now, if you think about 23 games in 23 days, you should understand that means we’re going to fly from San Francisco to Chicago, we land and we go to a game.

[00:28:09] Tom: On the last day of our trip, we go to a game and then go to O’Hare and fly back. So games on the day we arrive and depart, but along the way, we get to see games with these team names, Mudhens, Lugnuts, Skycarp, River Bandits, Loons, Leprechauns. Pit Spitters, Tin Caps, Storm Chasers, Sea Wolves, Rubber Ducks, Corn Belters, Lucky Horseshoes, Chinooks, Mallard Kingfish, and Timber Rattlers.

[00:28:49] Tom: How can you go wrong?

[00:28:54] Anna: Oh, Good old Minor League Baseball giving us those gems. Um, yeah, those, I’m just so happy to see this trend of more and more teams adopting their own identities because it just tickles me. It just, you know, makes me happy that these, these teams have their own thing. They’re not just the Cubs or the Braves or, you know, whatever it may be.

[00:29:19] Matt: Especially when they put enough thought into it that it ties to something that that is, you know, known to the community there, you know, some aspect of the community, you know, rubber ducks, for example, just seems like a silly thing to say, but they’ve got, you know, obviously, the tire industry is

[00:29:34] Tom: It’s Akron!

[00:29:35] Matt: Right, exactly. And you’ve got that. And then there’s a, they play a canal park right next to a canal. There’s lots of ducks there. Um, so it all kinds of ties in. And so that’s, that’s what makes it meaningful to us. Is it just, you see how this connects to the community. I should mention to one thing I’m really excited about for this trip is that my son is joining us for the first four games as well.

[00:29:55] Matt: So, um, he’s flying out with us to Chicago and we have four games in the Chicago area. Um, and he’s going to be with us for those, including Father’s Day on our second night with the Schaumburg boomers or second day. So we’re gonna play some catch on the field before the game and all that kind of stuff on Father’s Day.

[00:30:11] Matt: We have three generations there. And he does all the music and video, uh, you know, the animation and motion graphics that I use for my video series as well. So it’d be great having the whole gang there.

[00:30:23] Anna: Yeah, that’s gonna be really special. Something to really look forward to. I’m, I’m glad that that’s in the cards for this summer. And, um, you know, I can’t wait to follow along with you guys on social media as I always do. It’s always just, um, I don’t know if I’m jealous or, you know, living vicariously through you or maybe a little bit of both, but it just makes me happy to kind of tag along.

[00:30:46] Anna: Both of you, a question for each of you is, You know, let’s say that someone is listening and they’ve always had this dream of doing a baseball trip and maybe they’re not going to try to hit 23 and 23, but maybe they’re toying with the idea of doing a couple in a long weekend. Matt, I feel like you could give some logistical insight as a, the easiest way to plan that.

[00:31:10] Anna: And then Tom, I’d like for you to just add on kind of. What you would instruct people to kind of focus on and spend time on

[00:31:19] Matt: Yeah. I think that, uh, you know, logistically, um, obviously you’ve got to get schedules out. It’s good to see when they were, there’s great promotions happening, that’s going to make it a lot more fun. Um, you know, uh, Friday and Saturday nights are going to be the big nights where there’s great promotions, big crowds that tends to add a lot of energy.

[00:31:37] Matt: It can be pretty quiet on a Tuesday night and in some remote places. So, that’s that’s definitely where I would start. And then I, I would personally, I love to do the research about the team and the background, what concessions they have there. We end up making a concession strategy document. Uh, out of this trip.

[00:31:55] Matt: So I kind of see what they have on offer. And then we kind of take the best of the maybe the craziest concoctions or the things that are regionally appropriate and added it to a separate document. And we so we can kind of plan that out. And so we don’t have hot dogs 7 nights in a row, for example. So I think, you know, just looking into the, the teams a little bit and, uh, and getting an idea of what kinds of, of fun and history they have there is, will make it a lot more rewarding experience.

[00:32:21] Anna: definitely great advice

[00:32:23] Tom: I would suggest a couple of things. First of all, look around and see what sites and places of interest are in the town that you’re going to so you can do something in the daytime. You don’t want to sit in your hotel room and, you know, wait for the game. Go out and learn about the culture of the area. and then the second thing I would advise is Matt, uh, has always planned this.

[00:32:52] Tom: We always arrive at least an hour before the game so that we can get a sense of the whole ballpark, what’s going on. and, uh, although Matt figures out the food strategy. So if you’re looking for pulled pork, you don’t. wander around the whole concourse looking for it. You know it’s in left field, in the left field corner, in the booth named so and so.

[00:33:19] Tom: So that’s helpful too. So plan ahead and go ahead and you’ll have a great time, that’s for sure.

[00:33:29] Anna: Yeah, great advice from both of you. I love that you have a concessions strategy document You know Each moment is, is precious now, especially with the, the way they’ve sped up the game with some of the rule changes and things like that. But, um, you know, I’m, I’m sitting here, bowling league starts in a few weeks and I feel like concessions strategy is a pretty good team name possibility.

[00:33:58] Matt: You know, the point is you don’t like, I do all this research because we don’t want to waste time and, uh, everything, even like when we’re driving around town, like I’m figuring out, okay, I’ll drop dad off here. I’ll go to the parking garage over here. Like all that stuff, just to like maximize our time on these trips.

[00:34:12] Matt: And then we can also set aside some time to rest too, because we’ve got to do that each day.

[00:34:16] Anna: Yeah, definitely. With 23 games in 23 days, it’s a, it’s a marathon. That’s for sure. so obviously what’s next? The easy answer is in June you will do this 23 23 trip, but I mean, you’re kind of running out of parks and pockets of, of the country, right? Do you have an inkling as to what might be the, uh, I guess it would be 2025 version?


[00:34:40] Anna: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:34:41] Matt: Well, we don’t know for sure. I by the end of this trip, I will have been to 59 minor league ballparks. So just halfway there. Really? there’s some regions that we have not covered at all. So the Western Midwest would be the obvious sort of next trip, I think. And that’s it’s a lot of territory to cover in the seven states that are west of the Mississippi.

[00:35:00] Matt: Um, but a lot of minor league teams and former minor league teams there. Um, Um, we have, uh, like Texarkana region. We haven’t done. I think that would be a good trip, a southern. I’ve thought of a southern trip that kind of starts in Louisville and goes down to the Gulf Coast. and then I don’t know if I would connect that with Florida.

[00:35:18] Matt: Florida could be kind of its own trip. Maybe when we don’t feel like getting on the road quite so much because there’s a lot of teams in a pretty compact space. We can have a lot of nights in one hotel, which is always nice. And then I think, uh, the mountain region is another one that, uh, we haven’t really hit a lot of former minor league teams out there as well that I, you know, would love to see.

[00:35:36] Matt: Um, and, and obviously beautiful country to travel in. And we’ve got some pockets of things that we’ve missed, uh, new England and, and, and the far north up by the Great Lakes. And, you know, from Binghamton up to Buffalo and, and all that area, um, we have not really hit, so we’ve got a few good years of, of trips in front of us.

[00:35:53] Anna: lots of possibilities. It sounds like still to come, which is always exciting. But, let’s say folks are, this is their first time they’re, you know, meeting up with you digitally. Where is the best place to send them to follow along with this trip? And then we should also say that if you are planning on, you know, Creating your own baseball trip and you are looking at any of the regions that Matt and Tom have been to.

[00:36:20] Anna: Matt’s website is a wealth of knowledge to, um, help yourself plan kind of, you know, where you should go, what you should do, things to look at outside of the ballpark too. But Matt, why don’t you tell us where, where they can follow along?

[00:36:35] Matt: Yes. So the best place is at mapping the path on Twitter, which I’m still calling Twitter. Uh, and, uh, it’s, uh, I will be posting probably, uh, 6 to 10 posts a day. Probably. Uh, so from the time in the morning, when you get up to talk about what’s coming up in the day, and then some of the sites we’re seeing along the way.

[00:36:52] Matt: And then as we get to the ballpark and, and through the game, um, so it’s, uh, it’s, it’s a lot of stuff during the day. Um, and it’s a great, like, as you say, a great way to follow along with the trip and kind of live vicariously through it.

[00:37:04] Tom: sometimes When you say something so frequently, habit, uh, forces you to race through it. You need to slow down on the plug. It’s mapping the path. com, mapping. Yep.

[00:37:25] Matt: Yes. Nice and nice and slow. Thanks dad.

[00:37:28] Anna: definitely still your dad, that’s for sure.

[00:37:31] Matt: Well, he’s a, he was a, he’s a theater guy. And when I was in theater, my biggest note always was slow down. I’m working on it.

[00:37:43] Anna: Tom, last we spoke, baseball bucket list was more of the same, you know, uh, I just want to keep doing trips with my son. I want to do bigger and better things and go explore different parts of the country. Is that still the number one item or are you, are you hoping for a game with four grand slams?

[00:37:59] Tom: I’m not hoping for anything specific. That’s the point. You, you sit down and the game just happens, you know, you see a first round draft pick in his first game and you’re all excited for him and he gets halfway to first and falls flat on his face. You see another first round pick, uh, Holiday.

[00:38:22] Tom: First pitch, singles to right field. Boom, just like that. He’s back in the minors now. He hasn’t, they rushed him pretty much too, too much. But beyond that, you, you know, you might see a no hitter. You see baseball in its myriad of variations. And that works for me.

[00:38:44] Anna: I love that you guys are an inspiration. I think it’s so fun to see you guys out there each summer and thank you for sharing. not only the trip that you guys are on, but the details for other people to kind of use and, and planning their own trips and inspiring them to get out there and do some things that maybe they, they thought were out of reach or they were a little too nervous to, to just jump into.

[00:39:09] Anna: But when, when you see other people actually making it happen, it becomes a lot less daunting. And, um, that’s one of my favorite things about this community is we’re just super supportive and helpful. And, um, I know that anybody who wants to reach out to you, Matt, you will be happy to help them with any, any information that you are able to, to send their way.

[00:39:32] Anna: But, I can’t thank you guys enough. I mean, I, I just, I’m so excited for y’all and, uh, I love following along on these trips and just really, really appreciate the time.

[00:39:42] Matt: Thank you so much for having us, Anna. This has been fantastic.

[00:39:45] Tom: It’s great.

[00:39:46] Anna: And that will wrap up this episode of extra innings, special things to both Matt and Tom burns for joining us again and sharing those stories and memories. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, if you think you might like to be a guest or a repeat guest on the show, head to baseball bucket-list dot com slash podcast and fill out an application and absolutely love to hear from you while you’re there. 

[00:40:05] Anna: Take some time to check out the site, build your own baseball bucket list, track your ballpark visits and connect with other fans. 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. It goes such a long way in helping us find new listeners for the show. And I would really, really appreciate it. That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you. Next episode.

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