​                             ******* BALLPARKS FOR 2017 ********
NATIONALS PARK
 -  WASHINGTON NATIONALS - (BRAVES) JUNE 14 2017
ORIOLE PARK -  BALTIMORE ORIOLES - (CARDINALS) JUNE 16 2017
CITIZENS BANK PARK -  PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - (D-BACKS) JUNE 17 2017
CITI FIELD -  NEW YORK METS  - (NATIONALS) JUNE 18 2017
YANKEE STADIUM -  NEW YORK YANKEES - (ANGELS) JUNE 20 2017
FENWAY PARK -  BOSTON RED SOX - (ANGELS) JUNE 24 2017
HALL OF FAME - COOPERSTOWN NY - JUNE 27 2017
ROGERS CENTRE - TORONTO BLUE JAYS - (ORIOLES) JUNE 28 2017
COMERICA PARK - DETROIT TIGERS - (INDIANS) JUNE 30 2017
SUNTRUST PARK - ATLANTA BRAVES - (ASTROS) JULY 4 2017

DAY 1: THURSDAY - JUNE 8 2017 

Today marks the start of the third summer in traveling from ballpark to ballpark to scatter a pinch of Johnny's remains at each. Tommy and I already visited four ballparks in 2015, eleven in 2016 and are on our way to visit nine more this season. Our travels will bring us to DC, Baltimore, Philly, NY (2), Boston, Toronto, Detroit and Atlanta.

We left the driveway at 7 a.m. but had one very important stop to make first....the last day of school for Tommy. The day started with a bang as my trusty thermal coffee tumbler literally flung itself off of the roof upon exiting the driveway. No real damage except for the roughed up mouthpiece. We pulled into the school lot unscathed and on time and the boy scurried off to 3rd grade for the last time. 

Each grade is systematically recognized for academic achievement and seemingly the entire student body did well in reading, writing and arithmetic as the names were called. Parents snapped photos and the kids showed off their certificates of brainiacary. One spontaneously stated " the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side". Oh the little geniuses.

The school also recognized a special student, one who was well-rounded, kind, studious and school spirited. They call it the “Johnny Award” in honor of my son. Ms.DeVaughn the principal spoke so eloquently of Johnny and I was asked to present the award to a very deserving Shawn Moriarty. His mom Jodi and dad Patrick were there too, beaming with pride. Fighting back tears, I managed to say congratulations Shawn, that Johnny loved his school, dreamt big and was going to change the world; now all you have to do, all of you, is go out and do it.

I was happy for the kids. Parents were very supportive and after a lot of hugs, Tommy slung his bag over his shoulder and we headed out the door towards the bus.

According to Tommy, vacation doesn't begin until crossing the threshold. We hit first gear to officially start the trip 9:30 a.m. with 6,765 miles on the odometer.

Is it just me or does it seem like the longest stretch of time occurs during the first three miles? A stop at Dunky's, Pep Boys, the bank and we finally got on the road towards points north.  The bulk of the day was a smooth, cool, rainy ride with some sunny stretches covering exactly 250 miles. We stopped in New Smyrna Beach for the night at Sugar Mill Ruins Travel Park and Campground, space #106-B after a quick cruise through town and a light dinner. Tommy hit the pool which is shaped like the state of Florida and I must say, he knows the general geography of major cities. Do any other people use every opportunity to teach, test or point out this kind of stuff?

Tomorrow morning we plan to drive on the boilerplate hard sands of the beach and take a dip, weather permitting. Now, it is time to rest. Day one. Check.

DAY 2: FRIDAY JUNE 9 2017
Last night called for passing showers and whenever possible, keeping the pop-top lowered and the canvas dry is a wise choice. It did not rain and Tommy and I shared the large lower bed, which is only slightly wider than a horizontal phone booth, but camping is cozy and family is family. The boy has a jimmy-leg. Tonight, the top is going up come the torrents of Noah or not.

We left the campground at 9 a.m. to cruise the beach and claim a spot of the Atlantic waters mere feet from our ride, but the high tide and a nice parking attendant said otherwise. I've been to NSB three times now; the first getting stuck in the loose sand, the second having known better and it was blissful and today-the third time being shutout altogether. No biggie. Living in Fort Lauderdale and having the beach so close by regularly softened the blow.

We grabbed some breakfast and parked on the main drag in front of a surf shop to fuel ourselves up for the days trek. A surfer dude, which is to say everyone in this awesome little haven, popped his head in the passenger window and said 'cool bus man'. After the requisite exchange of Q&A about the year, did I do the restoration, is it original, is it factory, all of which is always welcomed, was done, he went on his way. Moments later his face was in my window inches from my check asking if he could take a photo for his shop. Jeez-Louise, sure. This happens, alot. Nice guy. I too stepped out and snapped a pic of Sweet Pea, the 4,874 such photo.

We left town after fueling up and headed north on 95 until the 12.5 gallons were consumed, some 165 miles away. This vehicle is averaging about 14 MPG and i try to do 175 mile runs, give or take. Cooler Temps and clear skies ahead were a nice treat as several motorists tooted their horns or waved a pleasant hello. One guy zoomed up close behind to pass us at the last second between the bumper and a semi and the trucker shook the ground with his thunderous air horn for a good five seconds. Thanks flatbed. It happens sometimes.

Last year, PB&J sandwiches were the norm for the boy wonder but he now prefers 'Fluffernutters'. If someone can share secrets on how to get this stubborn eater to try ANYTHING else, I will be in your debt. He munched one down in the shade with a side of pretzels and a chocolate milk after a refueling, and as I topped off the oil and wiped a rust splooge mess alongside the rear quarter panel from a WD-40 sliding door treatment performed during the previous pitstop. She glides open and shut effortlessly now.

We cruised on.

So I used my handy app to find a campground for the night thinking Savannah Georgia would be a fun place to explore in the morning and presto, we found a KOA only 60 miles north for $31.50 a night, including tax. We travel anywhere from 55 to 65 mph on these flat stretches of asphalt so I asked Tommy if we need to travel 60 miles at a rate of 60 MPH, how long will it take us? He said, 'dad, school ended yesterday' before answering 60 minutes, duh. Glad to know some of what my dad would ask me is being passed on, albeit with a bit of sarcasm I dared not try. Will never try.

We pulled into the Savannah South KOA after a fun-filled easy day covering 235 miles and set up our camp. The pop-top was raised and we set up the AC unit that vents out of the window. The boy has chores and he helps. He is a great camper. Next up, the pool was cannon-balled with flair and after an hour of swatting away gnats, we hit the showers. Light fare was just enjoyed for dinner and he's getting in some screen time on the old iPad, as in first generation old, without a good WIFI connection; but things could be worse. We could be stuck watching TV. 
Tomorrow calls for some southern charm in a great little city so we are turning in early. Thus far, no swearing or anything.

DAY 3: SATURDAY JUNE 10 2017
I was freezing at 4 a.m. with the A/C blasting at my feet. The outdoor temperature had dropped to 60 chilly degrees overnight so it wasn't even needed anyway, but I'm an air conditioned gypsy and trying to generate heat under a thin sheet and fleece blanket is far better a situation to be in than trying to cool off during a heat wave. Eventually I just bolted upright, hit the switch and dove back under in one clumsy maneuver. Tonight, the remote control will be handy, heaven forbid being unprepared again.

We rose at 7am, opened the sliding door and the sunshine peered through the trees to squint our eyes shut. Forty-five minutes later we stepped outside to properly greet the day. Tommy scampered off to the bathroom as I packed up the beds and snapped back the privacy curtains. Camp was easy to break down today. Tommy does his part to help out and I am teaching him everything so that someday he can show another a thing or two.

There are no Dunkin' Donuts in Savannah nor should there be, ever. This amazing slice of history is perfect the way it is, or was. We cruised for almost an hour checking out sights and happened upon another bus, this one orange. We will come back for a visit someday, one that lasts longer than a spin around the blocks.

Goodbye Georgia, hello South Carolina. Two hundred easy miles were spent playing 'I spy with my little eye something blue'. I actually preferred the endless questions of 'who would win a fight; Jaws or the T-Rex from Jurassic Park? Or, 'Who would win a race, a sloth or tortoise? We fueled up again, checked the oil and noticed that another wire wiggled loose off of the coil (was fuel pump in 2016). I asked Tommy to look at the coil and tell me what's wrong. The kid nailed it. Pretty cool. Simple pinch and off we went. I'm guessing that the lower price of fuel in SC might be due to fewer funds being allocated to road repair? Maybe it was just a loose connection.

Hello North Carolina. We actually 'voted for Pedro' and veered off just South of the Border for gas and a cooldown. This Kitsch, cheeseball, carnival money-pit tourist trap is a can't miss. No literally, the 80 plus miles of roadside billboards reminding us every 45 seconds that Pedro is 'caliente', come and pet the gators, fireworks-fireworks-FIREWORKS, you cannot miss it if you tried. We stopped of course. Here's four bucks take us to the top of the Sombrero in the sky. Tommy spotted the on property campground. I whipped out my handy app and booked a night’s stay 14 miles to the north at the Lumberton KOA.

And here we are. Rested, fed, showered, a load of laundry completed and talking about Johnny and how he would have lobbied more to stay and enjoy the spectacle a bit further south. He loved carnivals and fireworks too. Day three is done and so are we, for now.

DAY 4: SUNDAY JUNE 11 2O17
8:45 a.m. came too early. Tommy was awake and playing contently on the upper bed. The sun was flooding through the gaps in the curtains and I could hear other campers milling about. Within five minutes the beds were stowed and breakfast was on the picnic table outside. Normally pancakes are done on Sunday mornings but the mix was missing from the list and we both went cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs instead. Tommy did the dishes and several people stopped by to see how we squeeze into the bus. Guys nod, ladies shudder. The boy ran over to the bathhouse and I packed up the remaining items, shut the top and talked with a staff member. He said he saw me in Seffner, FL before and we chatted for a while. He grew up not far from where I did and was happy to hear of our plan to go through Boston and how we are honoring Johnny. He liked Florida but loves North Carolina. Tommy was playing on the jungle gym, setting the stage for a leisurely paced Sunday, so we left after a while. Camping brings kids together in ways hotel stays never can. It's hard to pull him away from that...

It was dry, hot and the sky was so blue. Cars were zooming past us frequently today and there were many big-rigs on the interstate too. Still, we hummed along. It appeared that NC repaved most of their highway as it was so smooth, unlike the 2015 trip of incessant microbumps.

We hit a grocery store for basic provisions, fueled up and then got right back at it. This quick continuation came at a cost as we were running hot; very hot and a rest area break was now needed. I gave the bus an hour to cool at the 'Virginia Welcome Center', fixed lunch and we sat in the shade. Sweet Pea started up though stubbornly so.

During the break, I found a nice family campground 14 miles away so we headed there for the night. Our shortened travel day netted 186 miles but even with a late start and early finish, we are still fine.

This campground is the Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp Resort located in Emporia, VA. The pool was perfect and after showering up I knocked off some emails while Tommy watched a movie in the clubhouse. The weather is clear and our sights are set for some fun in D.C. this week, and for the first ballpark on Wednesday. We will be staying with friends for a few nights too which according to Tommy is going to be great. Just being immersed with his charm and wit is my treat, one that I will always cherish. Off to bed.

DAY 5: MONDAY JUNE 12 2017
It all started out fairly typical today. 7:30 a.m. alarm, 8 a.m. up and at ‘em with packing underway. Breakfast, oil check, general walk around to ensure all cords were disconnected and belongings accounted for. Check, check and check. Turned the key to get started and that began perhaps the most memorable day of all of our travels.

A modern alarm system was installed in this bus three years ago and it included an auto start feature never needed or used. When things go haywire with an old school air-cooled vehicle, check the tech. The system went nuts three months ago, fired up the engine all on its own and would not stop trying to start the engine until the starter motor burned out. Water had fried the brain and the system was taken out until the water leak was repaired. The new system was put in a week ago and all seemed normal, until this morning when the gremlin reappeared. The install guy did not cut the wire for the remote start feature and even without a water-inspired malfunction, we had an issue. Luckily he answered the phone and walked me through the process to bypass the wiring harness and we got underway after a 250 foot tow from the campground owner. The strap I purchased after being stuck in the sands of New Smyrna Beach circa 2014 came in handy today.

So we shifted gears after the hour delay, left Emporia, VA on a beautiful weather day with sights on D.C. some 180 miles north. Have you ever shifted a stick and found the gears were not easily sliding into position? 1st and 3rd just felt off, even popping out of gear into neutral which as far as I can tell isn't normal. 2nd and 4th gear were just fine however so I figured let me get somewhere near metropolis to have a look or perhaps have a shop inspect the undercarriage. In circumstances like this I would normally call Mike Bradley who can envision the problem and offer spot on advice but I'm saving that call for something really juicy. We exited 95 to fuel up and when pumping gas, a piece of insulation foam the size of a Snicker's bar rolled out from under the bus. I had thought perhaps that something jammed itself into the linkage. Well, I'm no mechanic but I must say my father is and something he taught me over the years in our driveway paid off. That, and owning more $100 cars than the other guys, breaking down regularly as a teen and having to tinker a bit roadside gave me the confidence that, well, it might just 'fix itself'. Again, I was right and off we went, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, yahoo; grinning like a dope.

Have you ever owned a VW? Have you ever seen the movie "Heartbreak Ridge"? What they have in common is they both make an unusual sound, especially when firing at you. Today's trifecta of fun came about a mile before a rest area in the form of what only be described as a wildly obnoxious bus fart. We pulled in, dumped some trash, stretched our legs, enjoyed some AC of the building and looked at the muffler after it cooled down a bit. To say there was a hole in it that wasn't there yesterday would be one way of describing the debacle. I didn't do it. Tommy didn't do it either. Must have been 'not me' again. Here is where my MacGyver skills do in fact kick in. We drove to Walmart and I found a guy in the auto parts department and instead of over-complicating things, I said, "I have a hole in my muffler". He gave me a package of salvation and we are now going to get busy doing an auto repair at the campsite, a no-no folks, after a good swim. Like wrapping a plaster cast around a patient's arm, Dr. Dave will repair the hole and tomorrow we'll see how my skills work out. I do have a dime to make a call if needed.

From Walmart, we had pressed on 30 miles to this really cool spot in Dumfries, VA known as 'Prince William Travel Trailer Campground'. Situated amongst old oaks and other, well, big green leafy trees. We have a great spot beside the crystal clear pool and spotless bathhouse. I cannot imagine being anywhere else tonight more fun than here, with Tommy. I called my dad today and we chatted about the first two hiccups, things he taught me how to fix at least a dozen times. I loved that for it is what I told Tommy today that happens in life as it does on a simple trip and how you handle situations like this give you practical experience, to which he replied, "cannonball". Still smiling.

Copyright  Dave MacDougall. All rights reserved.

 

2017 TRIP       30 DAYS - 4,035 MILES

THE PLAN IN 2017 WAS TO COVER THE EAST COAST BALLPARKS FROM THE D.C. AREA, THROUGH PHILLY, NEW YORK, BOSTON, OUT WEST TO TORONTO, THEN OVER TO DETROIT AND BACK SOUTH AGAIN THROUGH ATLANTA.  LUCKILY, WE HAD FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO BUNK WITH WHICH MADE THE TRIP MORE AFFORDABLE.  THE DRIVE COVERED 4,035 MILES THROUGH 16 STATES, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND CANADA TOO.  THERE WERE SOME MECHANICAL HICCUPS, ONE TOW TRUCK EPISODE, ONE RAIN OUT GAME, BUT A THOUSAND SMILES, STORIES AND MEMORIES TO SHARE AND RECALL FOREVER.  ENJOY.

DAY 6: TUESDAY JUNE 13 2017
The Dr. is out. We packed up this morning, fired up the bus and took off out of the Prince William Campground with a newly fastened patch over the hole in the muffler. The ideal way to do the job is to continuously wrap the fiberglass membrane around the muffler but it was not possible, so strips were applied. They did work and cut the sound to a normal rumble and off we went for 1/2 mile before POW, the patch was blown off. I considered that the powerful exhaust thrusted the band-aid off and onto the highway with extreme prejudice because when we fueled up a mile away, only one piece of the fix was intact. Tomorrow I will find a muffler shop for a simple welding job that will take care of it.

We rumbled into Washington D.C. and easily found a spot across from the Federal Reserve at 2000 Constitution Ave. The Mall was at our doorstep and our three hour maximum time limit had us moving rather faster than normal speed. I packed a full backpack of water, granola, apples, solar cell charger, battery cell charger and napkins and we hit the pavement.

The first stop was the Lincoln Memorial. Tommy was keeping pace and we climbed the steps rather quickly. He had been here once before albeit in a stroller and had no recollection. This time, he let the monument splash over him, or was it the sweat from his brow as it was 97 degrees today. The place was packed with tourists snapping selfies and fanning themselves. We took a couple of photos and then headed to the reflecting pool. The path alongside this national treasure is lined with park benches and shaded with old trees and those shadows seemingly cut the pain in two. We trudged along towards the 555' obelisk better known as the Washington Monument and he ran over to touch the side as I took a few photos. He was given the choice of walking near the White House or through the Air and Space Museum and he chose the latter, for the better.

The walk was long and hot. We finally did manage a whirlwind tour of bi-planes, WWII fighters, primitive spacecraft and a replica of the Wright Brothers glider. We loved this but before long, we had to leave, get a taxi and head back. The boy had his fill and off we rode to the bus. There is no way to see D.C. in 3 hours but we are here for 3 full days and will be back before too long.

For the next three nights, we will be staying at a friend’s gorgeous ginormous house in Edgewater (Annapolis). We pulled into the driveway at 3:30 today and hit the pool followed by showers all before 5pm. I'm enjoying a large bedroom and Tommy has a pullout couch in the game room. We are grateful to Mary Lou and Brian Bach for their hospitality as well as the patience and assistance of their son Tim in helping us feel at home.

We only drove 61 miles today but aside from the final four miles, the bulk of the trek was typical D.C. bumper to bumper shenanigans.

Tomorrow marks the first ballgame on this seasons trip between the Nationals and the Braves. This should be a fun game and ballpark. It was here that Johnny and I made a pact to see all of the ballparks and we will remember and honor him by leaving just a pinch of him behind forever. The first pitch is at 4:05 and we will be there to pay tribute to a boy who loved the game.

DAY 7: WEDNESDAY JUNE 14 2017
Happy Flag Day. We are in the D.C. area and enjoying the comforts of home at Bach Manor. Rose early and did some email work, heard the news about that politically motivated senseless shooting and formulated a plan for the afternoon.

Mary Lou is a saint. She made Tommy breakfast as I enjoyed coffee and cinnamon buns while doing some laptop work. We had a 4pm ballgame today but needed to visit a shop to diagnose a repair for the hole in the muffler.

Most shops use a cut and paste approach; off with the old, on with the new. This vintage model does not afford that luxury as the specification is 41 years old and it is not a stock item. The first shop employee could not be bothered with getting off of his stool to even look at the vehicle; the second shop kept calling the bus a bug and would not consider a welding job or patch at all. I can understand this, but I would prefer a patch and do a new system back in FLA from a guy with some know-how anyway. We left and headed across the road to pick up some stainless steel hose clamps at an auto parts store and then drove into D.C. with some minor back pressure issues and a louder than normal rumble. Tommy loved that it sounded a lot like Sebulba's Pod Racer from Star Wars- The Phantom Menace. We rode in using route guidance and a Bluetooth headset directly into Nationals Park for the 4pm game vs. The Atlanta Braves.

Parking at a swanky garage at the ballpark would allow a patch repair later, after a cool down. We bought some tickets on the first base side and went in for a walk around. Our routine is typical: window decal for the bus, souvenir free refillable soda cup and a complete walk around of the ballpark. 
We watched the National anthem performed and then took our seats on a cooler afternoon than yesterday for the start of the game. 1st pitch a bit inside for a ball.

A bag of peanuts, free refill on the soda, a slice of pizza, a Nats Dog, more soda and we were content albeit the cadence of the game was as slow as most non-fans dread. The Braves were in control and the home team was losing, badly.

Tommy did well given the fact that the sun had come out and it got steamy warm. We watched the game and did the wave, my sportscaster interview shtick with the boy, and finally the 7th inning. The top half of the inning lasted for a kid eternity...6 runs and a pitching change, all with two outs. The lead swelled to 12-2 by the end of the top frame, but then with a ground out to third, we had our moment, the reason why we are here, the 7th inning stretch to honor Johnny. A pinch of my oldest son now is part of Nationals Park, section 317, Row C, Seats 3 and 4. These seats were approximately the 1st base equivalent of Johnny's 3rd base side game that we shared 7 years ago, the genesis of traveling around to see them all. The prolonged top half of today's 7th inning gave me more time to remember that night vs. the Mets, but I recall that game like most games, with clarity. You just never know what you'll see at a ballgame, or how a single decision can impact your life. That game stands out and will always be one I am glad we attended; just like today's snoozer with Tommy.

We left after the sprinkling was done today and headed to the parking garage. I wanted to test my hose clamp idea out and with me working under the bumper and Tommy holding the flashlight, I turned into my dad and Tommy into me when I was a kid, all over again. We rode back to Annapolis quieter and with a sense of accomplishment. Game one of nine is in the books.

DAY 8: THURSDAY JUNE 15 2017
Tommy and I spent the morning visiting my uncle Danny and aunt Suzanne in Alexandria, VA. Spry, engaging and ever so entertaining are terms that do not seem to measure up to these MacDougall's. We talked about baseball, family heritage, our trip, and of Johnny of course but it was Tommy who held center stage. That boy is so precious and earnest. Our visit was a highlight and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a supportive and sound family.

The goodbye was slow and deliberate and this visit likely will be the last time I ever see either one again, but it was so good to feel the presence of family. Tommy was told that we are but shadows of our forefathers until we carry on the torch of tomorrow. He replied 'meow' which can mean that he gets it completely or he just really liked the cat Bentley. I for one was glad that we reconnected today, even if only for a few hours.

Later, we drove by the US Capitol with a plan of making a visit but the local streets were blockaded and the skies were graying up so we headed east on Rt. 50 back to Mary Lou's for our final night.

We picked up some step flashing to more fully repair the dang muffler from Home Depot and with a 2 minute tweak secured a more suitable band-aid for the duration of the trip. Light provisions from a local grocery store rounded out our days errands and we pulled into the driveway for the final time around 4pm.

Tomorrow we leave for Baltimore for the second game of this trip but could not be more thankful to the generosity of our friends in Edgewater, MD (Mary Lou, Brian and Tim Bach).

Thank you for hosting us. We will never forget this trip.

DAY 9: FRIDAY JUNE 16 2017
We slept a bit late today knowing that we'd be leaving the comfort of Bach Manor and getting back on the road. The travel time to Baltimore was only about an hour so we took our time loading up, checking the oil, and saying goodbye. We intended hitting first gear but the starter was sticky so we skipped it and popped the clutch in second to get going down the impressive driveway. So is life in a bus. Thanks Mary Lou! We are so thankful for your hospitality. Tommy asked her "can you please bring Tim to Florida on your next visit?" Tommy liked Tim quite a bit.

A nice tour of old Annapolis and the general US Naval Academy was in order as we headed out of town. It was so quaint, like Harvard Square without the crowds. We cruised around here for an hour but made our way to I-97 and eventually into Mob Town aka Charm City across a tapestry patchwork of pothole imperfection the likes of which I have never seen and certainly never driven. Any lose parts were lost for sure so RIP.

We really love camping and sleeping in the bus, but some environs do not mesh well with this utopian plan, so we checked into camp Holiday Inn across the street from 'Oriole Park at Camden Yards' with secure parking.

We walked over to the Inner Harbor for a looksee and a quick lunch before picking up tickets for tonight's game. A powernap, shower and change of clothes later found us in a familiar place, the ballpark for tonight's contest vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.

This is a really cool ballpark in its 25th season. I was here over Memorial Day circa the year 2000 for Big Jim's Bachelor Party Weekend vs. the A' with a bunch of friends, but this time around, Tommy and I took in the whole experience and actually walked the perimeter to see it all. The boy enjoyed a slice of Pizza, a souvenir soda (no free refills here) and later, cotton candy. I enjoyed watching him checking out the sight lines and noticing the brick warehouse in the outfield and the sea of orange jerseys sported by the loyal fan base. I told him that Card's fans are perhaps the most loyal road game travelers I have ever seen to which he replied, 'meow', but he did see a lot of red today at the hotel and in the stands. Every ballpark and/or fans have merit (even Oakland) and one of the gems of O's fans is during the National Anthem where while singing the line "Oh say can that Star spangled banner yet wave?" They REALLY emphasize the word 'Oh' to represent their team. You're welcome non-sports fans. The things you learn from these posts....

What I truly like about this ballpark is 'The Porch' area in right field, some 318 feet down the line but elevated like a mini green monster. Fans gather here to see the action, chase down home runs and generally enjoy the atmosphere. The game was great too by the way. The Cards were cruising and baseball boils down to solid pitching and timely hitting; things the O's just couldn't do tonight.

We watched the action from the third base side, section 346, row 15 seats 7 and 8 but because of the configuration of this really spectacular ballpark, we ventured over to the porch for the 7th inning stretch. As luck would not really have it, I missed a home run due to charging up the dang cellphone but we did not miss a choice spot along the railing when that time honored song was played between the top and bottom half of the 7th. Johnny is now at rest here, on the grass of Camden Yards. Tommy was happy to help and I tussled his hair, something I love to do. He has his mom's hair but my sophomoric sense of humor. This game, this night, this electric crowd, all combined into a perfect swirl of what this game was meant to be; fun and entertaining, things we are trying to do while paying tribute to an all star.

We purchased a window decal for the bus, high fived a couple of friendly staff and headed out of the ballpark completely satisfied. Two down, seven to go, and still smiling.

DAY 10: SATURDAY JUNE 17 2017
Standard hotel morning, breakfast with the flipping waffle machine, (it rotates, I'm not swearing yet), coffee, etc. We left Baltimore precisely at 9:35 heading north to Philadelphia for a 4:05 p.m. game against the Diamondbacks with a couple of easy breaks added in. Lost the turn signals, gas guage and stereo all at once about 4 miles from the ballpark, likely due to a blown fuse. Will diagnose later.

We parked, purchased $20 tickets in an obscure upper deck corner and entered the center field gate at 2:05. Tommy picked up a giveaway 'W.B. Mason' truck and we then purchased a "P" sticker for the bus, the 18th overall thus far. Will have to start scraping off some non-baseball stickers to allow for these badges.

The weather was iffy and a light rain fell on us for 15 minutes. Battling Practice was over and the infield tarp was unfurled to protect the diamond. I charged up my cell phone and a nice usher gave Tommy a baseball and 1st Time Visitor Certificate. Lots of swag before the game started.

We continued our tour of this ballpark, another one I had seen before some years ago. It offers great views from all areas.

The rain pushed first pitch back by 50 minutes, it was a ball, off plate. The pace ebbed and flowed today, but Tommy enjoyed some staples, a souvenir soda cup, slice of plain pizza and then later some C.C. We now call cotton candy C.C; after all baseball is rich with a shorthanded language.

Kristin Sloan's cousin Chris Flagg, a Philly resident, attended this game with some friends and peeled away for a couple of innings to hang with us. It's always nice to see familiar faces in strange places.

Tommy and I ventured out into straightaway center field and the boy scattered a pinch of his brother over the fence in homerun territory, right under the cameras.

We headed out shortly after this feat was accomplished as we had a 2 hour drive into New Jersey, where fuel is much cheaper and there is no self-service.. The ride was a bit cooler but very bumpy and dark. We are now spending the next couple of nights here due to NYC proximity. Thanks Ed Hughes for putting us up, or is it more like putting up with us?​