Results tagged ‘ Road Trip ’

Planning the Ultimate Minor League Baseball Road Trip: An Exercise in Patience

Yesterday, new Ben’s Biz Blog contributor Ashley Marshall introduced himself via a Pac-Man inspired tour of the Minor League landscape. Today, he really goes the extra mile with this “ultimate” Minor League Road Trip itinerary. Please keep in mind, however, that this “ultimate” itinerary is entirely theoretical. Neither I (Ben’s Biz) or Ashley or anyone else will actually be doing it. For my 2015 road trip itineraries, click HERE

By Ashley Marshall/MiLB.com

Happy Opening Day, baseball fans. From Vancouver to West Palm Beach, San Jose to Winooski, Vt, the Minor Leagues bring baseball to millions of fans in thousands of communities.

Each year, there are 160 Minor League teams playing more than 8,000 games in 42 continental US states and one Canadian province across 14 leagues and six levels from Triple-A down to rookie ball. All this happens in a five-month, 152-day window from Opening Day on April 9 to the regular season finales on Sept. 7.

That had me thinking. With fewer than 10 flights and relying otherwise only on car travel, is it possible to visit all 160 teams in one season? Also, how big does my suitcase need to be to fit five months’ worth of clothes into it?

I’ll try to answer the first question. I’ll leave the second one up to your own imagination. At the end of this article, I’ll also tell you what such a trip might cost. map While seeing every club play one home fixture during 2015 is possible, the logistics of planning such a schedule range somewhere from tricky to excruciatingly frustrating.

But with Ben unveiling his road trip itinerary Friday, I thought now would be as good a time as any to share with you one way such a mammoth, travel-intensive journey could take shape.

Call this whatever you want — a logistical crossword, a thought experiment, a lesson in tedium. But just to be clear, this is a ‘paper only’ experiment. Neither I nor anyone I know is undertaking this trip.

So, a few initial observations: While some states boast a high number of Minor League teams (Florida is home to 14; California, 12; Tennessee and North Carolina, nine each), eight other states and provinces are home to just one club. For those keeping score at home, they’re Vermont, New Hampshire, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Delaware and British Columbia.

There’s no way to tackle these except in isolation in the context of a bigger road trip. The need to schedule at least eight day-night twinbills of two games in two ballparks on one day is the very minimum requirement to make such an ambitious itinerary possible.

But factoring in days off (the Florida State League is off entirely on Mother’s Day, for example; the International and Pacific Coast Leagues are off July 13-15 for the Triple-A All-Star Game) homestands not always coinciding with the days you’re in that part of a state and the fact that the rookie-level and short-season leagues are at opposite ends of the country and only play for around the final 10 weeks of the year, it’s imperative to double up on games almost twice as many times.

These leagues are limited geographically from the northeast (New York-Penn League) and down the coast as far as the Carolinas (Appalachian League) on one side of America, and from the pacific northwest down into Montana and Colorado on the other. To make it at least somewhat cost-effective, I’ll limit airplane travel to 10 times during the season, most likely for cross-country journeys or picking off isolated teams that otherwise wouldn’t fit into a schedule.

***

I initially thought you could start in the Midwest around Omaha, head east through the Midwest League and then tackle the International League, Eastern League and South Atlantic League teams as you get to them. At that point, you could head south and west, starting with the New York-Penn League and Appy Leagues and going into Florida to wrap up the Florida State League in two weeks.

Next would be the Texas League and more eastern Pacific Coast League teams, the California League and finally the Northwest and Pioneer Leagues. Two potential problems with that plan.

  • One, the New York-Penn League doesn’t kick off until mid-June, meaning you’d need to hit around 65 teams before starting the NYPL schedule. There’s just not enough teams in the Midwest, International and Eastern Leagues to make that happen
  • Two, the weather is notoriously unpredictable in the spring in the east and Midwest, making rainouts more likely, even if exact postponements could never be foreseen that far in advance.

So instead, here’s how you could make it work. Start on the west coast. Head south and east through Texas, looping up through Florida, up the east coast (by which time the NYPL will be playing), then across the top of the country finishing back in the northwest with the two summer leagues there.

That should give you enough time to head back into California or toward Texas to mop up any teams you missed the first time through. Most of the day-night games have to be in the Florida State League or along the eastern seaboard where multiple teams are within a few hours’ drive of one another.

Even if, for example, Corpus Christi played an 11am game on the same day El Paso had a 7pm start, Texas is just too big to navigate between them to arrive at the second ballpark in time.

About one-third of the way into the planning of this fictitious trip that exists only on paper, I ran into another problem. Biloxi’s new stadium will not be ready until early summer, with the home opener scheduled for June 6. With that obstacle in mind, you can bypass the trio of Biloxi (and neighboring Mobile and Pensacola) for now, planning to return to them later in the year when all three teams are at home. The next time this happens is the third week of July. Biloxi has a homestand from July 15-21, Mobile from 15-19 and Pensacola from July 20-26. That gives you just enough of an overlap to make it possible, allowing you to return north to complete that leg of the trip.

With that in mind, I present to you the following schedule.

Date DH Home Away League Time
9-Apr Sacramento Salt Lake PCL 7:05
10-Apr Fresno Las Vegas PCL 7:05
11-Apr Visalia High Desert Cal 7:00
12-Apr Inland Empre Stockton CAL 2:05
13-Apr
14-Apr Lake Elsinore High Desert CAL 6:00
15-Apr 1 Bakersfield Modesto CAL 11:00
15-Apr 2 Lancaster Stockton CAL 6:30
16-Apr High Desert Lancaster CAL 6:35
17-Apr San Antonio Tulsa TEX 7:05
18-Apr Corpus Christi Springfield TEX 7:05
19-Apr Round Rock Memphis TEX 1:05
20-Apr Arkansas Midland TEX 7:10
21-Apr Mississippi Chattanooga SOU 7:00
22-Apr Jackson Tennessee SOU 7:05
23-Apr Springfield Arkansas TEX 7:05
24-Apr Tulsa Northwest Arkansas TEX 7:05
25-Apr Oklahoma City Omaha PCL 7:05
26-Apr Frisco Corpus Christi TEX 4:05
27-Apr Midland Corpus Chrisit TEX 6:30
28-Apr Memphis Round Rock PCL 7:05
29-Apr Northwest Arkansas Springfield TEX 11:05
30-Apr Brevard County Daytona FSL 6:35
1-May Dunedin Clearwater FSL 6:30
2-May Tampa Lakeland FSL 6:00
3-May 1 Clearwater Dunedin FSL 1:00
3-May 2 Daytona Brevard County FSL 5:35
4-May St. Lucie Palm Beach FSL 6:30
5-May Jupiter Charlotte FSL 6:35
6-May 1 Lakeland Daytona FSL 10:30
6-May 2 Bradenton Fort Myers FSL 6:30
7-May Palm Beach Bradenton FSL 6:35
8-May Charlotte St. Lucie FSL 6:30
9-May Fort Myers Jupiter FSL 6:05
10-May Montgomery Birmingham SOU 2:05
11-May Birmingham Chattanooga SOU 7:05
12-May New Orleans Oklahoma City PCL 7:05
13-May Jacksonville Pensacola SOU 11:05
14-May 1 Gwinnett Syracuse IL 10:35
14-May 2 Augusta Hickory SAL 7:05
15-May Savannah Lexington SAL 7:05
16-May Charleston Greenville SAL 6:05
17-May Charlotte Syracuse IL 2:05
18-May Kannapolis Asheville SAL 7:05
19-May Greenville Lexington SAL 7:05
20-May 1 Rome Charleston SAL 1:00
20-May 2 Chattanooga Montgomery SOU 7:15
21-May Myrtle Beach Frederick CAR 7:05
22-May Norfolk Rochester IL 7:05
23-May Richmond Bowie IL 6:05
24-May Lynchburg Frederick CAR 2:00
25-May 1 Salem Winston-Salem CAR 1:05
25-May 2 Greensboro Hagerstown SAL 7:00
26-May Hickory Delmarva SAL 6:00
27-May 1 Durham Rochester IL 1:05
27-May 2 Carolina Myrtle Beach SAL 7:00
28-May Winston-Salem Lynchburg SAL 7:00
29-May Asheville Augusta SAL 7:05
30-May Tennessee Mobile SOU 7:05
31-May Nashville Las Vegas PCL 2:05
1-Jun Bowling Green Great Lakes MWL 12:05
2-Jun West Virginia Greensboro SAL 7:05
3-Jun 1 Columbus Toledo IL 11:35
3-Jun 2 South Bend Cedar Rapids MWL 7:05
4-Jun West Michigan Quad Cities MWL 7:00
5-Jun Wisconsin Lake County MWL 7:05
6-Jun Beloit Lake County MWL 7:00
7-Jun Iowa Memphis PCL 1:08
8-Jun Omaha Colorado Springs PCL 7:05
9-Jun Toldedo Syracuse IL 7:00
10-Jun Cedar Rapids Great Lakes MWL 6:35
11-Jun Peoria West Michigan MWL 7:00
12-Jun Burlington South Bend MWL 6:30
13-Jun Quad Cities Great Lakes MWL 6:00
14-Jun Fort Wayne Clinton MWL 3:05
15-Jun Indianapolis Durham IL 7:05
16-Jun Louisville Gwinnett IL 7:05
17-Jun 1 Kane County Wisconsin MWL 12:00
17-Jun 2 Clinton Quad Cities MWL 6:30
18-Jun Great Lakes Lake County MWL 7:05
19-Jun Lansing Great Lakes MWL 7:05
20-Jun Akron Erie EL 7:05
21-Jun Lexington Rome SAL 6:05
22-Jun Dayton Lake County MWL 2:00
23-Jun Bluefield Elizabethton APPY 7:05
24-Jun Bristol Greeneville APPY 7:00
25-Jun Johnson City Kingsport APPY 7:00
26-Jun Greeneville Danville APPY 7:00
27-Jun Kingsport Bluefield APPY 7:00
28-Jun Elizabethton Pulaksi APPY 6:00
29-Jun Danville Kingsport APPY 7:00
30-Jun Burlington Bluefield APPY 7:00
1-Jul 1 Princeton Greeneville APPY 11:00
1-Jul 2 Pulaski Johnson City APPY 7:00
2-Jul Biloxi Mississippi SOU 7:10
3-Jul Pensacola Jacksonville SOU 6:30
4-Jul Mobile Pensacola SOU 7:05
5-Jul West Virginia Batavia NYPL 4:05
6-Jul Bowie Erie EL 7:05
7-Jul Wilmington Frederick CAR 6:35
8-Jul Hagerstown Delmarva SAL 7:05
9-Jul 1 Potomac Lynchburg SAL 12:05
9-Jul 2 Aberdeen Staten Island NYPL 7:05
10-Jul Frederick Salem CAR 7:00
11-Jul Harrisburg Erie EL 6:00
12-Jul Altoona Bowie EL 6:00
13-Jul 1 State College Tri-City NYPL 12:00
13-Jul 2 Williamsport Connecticut NYPL 7:05
14-Jul Delmarva Lexington SAL 7:05
15-Jul Staten Island Brooklyn NYPL 7:00
16-Jul Brooklyn Staten Island NYPL 7:00
17-Jul Reading New Britain EL 7:05
18-Jul Connecticut Hudson Valley NYPL 7:05
19-Jul New Hampshire Portland EL 1:35
20-Jul 1 Tri-City Aberdeen NYPL 11:00
20-Jul 2 New Britain Binghamton EL 7:05
21-Jul Lowell Tri-City NYPL 7:05
22-Jul Portland Trenton EL 12:00
23-Jul Vermont Auburn NYPL 7:05
24-Jul Pawtucket Buffalo IL 7:05
25-Jul Hudson Valley State College NYPL 7:05
26-Jul Lakewood Kannapolis SAL 1:05
27-Jul Trenton Portland EL 7:00
28-Jul Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley IL 7:05
29-Jul Lehigh Valley Scranton/Wilkes-Barre IL 7:05
30-Jul Auburn Aberdeen NYPL 7:05
31-Jul Rochester Syracuse IL 7:05
1-Aug Buffalo Pawtucket IL 7:05
2-Aug Lake County Great Lakes MWL 6:30
3-Aug Mahoning Valley Williamsport NYPL 7:05
4-Aug Batavia State College NYPL 7:05
5-Aug Syracuse Pawtucket IL 7:05
6-Aug Binghamton Bowie EL 6:35
7-Aug Erie Harrisburg EL 7:05
8-Aug
9-Aug
10-Aug Vancouver Everett NWL 7:05
11-Aug Spokane Tri-City NWL 6:30
12-Aug 1 Tacoma Sacramento PCL 11:34
12-Aug 2 Tri-City Boise NWL TBD
13-Aug
14-Aug Great Falls Orem PIO TBD
15-Aug Hillsboro Vancouver NWL 5:30
16-Aug Eugene Everett NWL 5:01
17-Aug Salem Keizer Hillsboro NWL 6:35
18-Aug Everett Spokane NWL 7:05
19-Aug Boise Eugene PIO 7:15
20-Aug Idaho Falls Billings PIO 7:15
21-Aug Salt Lake Iowa PCL 6:35
22-Aug Orem Ogden PIO 7:15
23-Aug Helena Great Falls PIO 1:05
24-Aug Billings Missoula PIO 7:05
25-Aug Missoula Helena PIO 7:05
26-Aug Ogden Idaho Falls PIO TBD
27-Aug Grand Junction Orem PIO TBD
28-Aug Albuquerque Colorado Springs PCL 7:05
29-Aug El Paso Oklahoma City PCL 7:05
30-Aug Modesto Visalia CAL 6:05
31-Aug Las Vegas El Paso PCL 7:05
1-Sep San Jose Modesto CAL 7:00
2-Sep
3-Sep
4-Sep Stockton Modesto CAL 7:10
5-Sep Reno El Paso PCL 7:05
6-Sep Rancho Cucamonga Inland Empire CAL 5:05
7-Sep Colorado Springs New Orleans PCL 1:35

This incorporates 15 dates with two games on the same day, and just six days out of 152 with no games scheduled.

***

Breaking it all down

  • This itinerary logs almost 40,000 miles, including almost 30,000 by road and nearly 10,000 on 10 trips through the air.
  • You’ll spend a little more than 500 hours driving and another 38 hours on an airplane. That’s nearly 24 full days.
  • The shortest leg of the trip is from Staten Island to Brooklyn, just 18 miles.
  • By contrast, the longest leg is going from Erie, Pa., to Vancouver. That’s a 40-hour, 2,600-mile trip by car, reduced to a seven hour, $500 multi-leg flight from Buffalo, Cleveland or Pittsburgh.
  • Other flights include Los Angeles (serving Adelanto) to San Antonio, Texas; Mobile, Alabama to Clarksburg (serving Granville, West Virginia); and Orange County (serving Rancho Cucamonga) to Colorado Springs.
  • Assuming your car gets 33 miles to the gallon and the average cost of a gallon of fuel nationwide is $2.50, you’ll spend around $2,272 on 1250 gallons of gas alone. Figure to spent another $3,000 on air fare.
  • There are 30 Triple-A teams, 30 Double-A teams, 60 Class A teams, 22 short-season teams and 18 rookie-level teams on the schedule. Based on the average prices published by MiLB least year, if you bought one ticket, a soda and a hot dog, a program and paid for car parking at each game, you’d spend $3,280 during the year.
  • The most expensive part of such a ludicrous trip would be hotels. Even at $75 a night, a place to crash after a ballgame would ring up an additional $12,000 over five months.
  • Then factoring in taking five months off work. With the average American making between $27,000 – $28,000, taking such a long period of time off work could lose you around $11,000 in wages.

These calculations don’t even take into account paying for breakfasts, lunches or dinners, doing laundry every week you’re on the road, the possible need to rent a vehicle assuming you don’t have access to one in each city you travel through, and just the general cost of living. Food alone could run upward of $5,000, and that’s only budgeting $30 a day.

So the real cost of this trip? It could very possibly cost you a cool $40,000.

***

How would your schedule look? Which way would you attack such a logistical nightmare? How would you save time, money or both? If you only traveled throughout one league, which one would you pick and why? Feel free to message me on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB or reply in the comments below. And if you have any MiLB travel plans this season, however small or large, I’d love to hear from you. Plan your own road trip here.

ashley.marshall@mlb.com

twitter.com/ashmarshallmlb

Don’t Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em

If you’ve got $5 burning a hole in your pocket, then there’s something wrong with your pants, the money, or both. But, should you be in Fresno at any point this season, then I nonetheless have a good suggestion as for how you should spend it.

Beginning last week and continuing through the end of the season, the Fresno Grizzlies are giving fans a chance to win nothing less than this, the most valuable baseball card of all time.

That’s the Honus Wagner T206, aka the holy grail of baseball cards. Estimates vary regarding how many were produced (between 60 and 200), and in recent years it has sold for upwards of $2.8 million dollars.

The Grizzlies are specifically raffling off a Wagner card, however. At this juncture I’ll give the floor to Grizzlies media relations coordinator Chris Kutz:

[W}e are raising money for our Grizzlies Community Fund through a raffle for an unopened, professionally-graded pack of 1909-11 Piedmont cigarettes….[T}his unopened pack of cigarettes could contain the “Holy Grail” of baseball cards depicting Honus Wagner, as a limited number of these cards are still potentially out in the public, somewhere to be found. While there is not a guarantee the Honus Wagner card is in the unopened pack, there very well may be other collectible cards from the T206 set inside the pack that are worth thousands of dollars as well.

Our raffle will run from now until September 3rd (Labor Day). We have our last regular season game on 9/3, and we will reveal the winner at the game, giving them the choice to open it there or hold off.

Raffle tickets are $5, and are available on the Chukchansi Stadium concourse during all Grizzlies home games. Proceeds benefit the Grizzlies Community Fund, whose various initiatives include the team’s Wild About Reading program and the Junior Grizzlies baseball league for youths with physical and mental disabilities.

And, as Kutz points out, the intrigue won’t end when a winner is named on September 3. Will he or she then open the pack in hopes of a Honus? Or would selling it untouched to the highest bidder be the wiser move? And, of course, there’s always the chance of some sort of KLF-inspired protest of the entire notion of commerce. 

Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, I am writing this post while on the cusp of my next road trip. Once again, the itinerary:

June 7 — Oklahoma City RedHawks

June 8 — Tulsa Drillers

June 9 — Northwest Arkansas Naturals

June 10 — Springfield Cardinals

June 11 — Travel (should be in Memphis that evening)

June 12 — Memphis Redbirds

June 13 — Jackson Generals

June 14 — Arkansas Travelers

Please get in touch if you have anything whatsoever to share about any of these locations. And, if you plan on being at any of the games, then please make sure to say hello. I enjoy meeting people (on the road and otherwise), and say yes to as many invitations and recommendations as I can.

Therefore, this will most likely be my final post until Monday. And, from that point on, expect another deluge of “On the Road” content — both here at the blog and over on MiLB.com. Good luck and Godspeed, me.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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