Travel from Atlanta to Fort Valley to Louisville and finally back to Denver. 8/4 - 8/7/19
The next day I made my way back down to Middle GA for only 2 nights. I was home able to sort of process the whole summer. I traveled the 6th up to Louisville to visit and tour the Slugger baseball bat factory and museum. If you’re a sports fan, then this place is worth it and amazing! The longest day of travel I had was 20 hours on the 7th. I left Louisville, KY at 4:30 AM EST. I stopped for a good amount of time in KC to see an old friend and grab things I left at my friends house after the Royals game back in early June. I didn’t arrive to my house in Denver till 10 PM Mountain TIme (Midnight EST).
Reds vs Braves 8/3/19
The Game: Boy, what a game it was to watch for the finale of my trip! Braves scored early in two different innings. The new rookie for the Reds that went off late in the season (Aquino) hit his first ever home run to tie the ball game up 3-3 later in the 7th. It was Trevor Bauer’s 1st ever game pitching for the Reds after he was traded from the Indians. It was also the 1st game with the newer Braves bullpen of Martin, Melancon, and Greene. Their reliever Lorenzen walked 3 straight players to allow the Braves to go up in the 8th, however Greene blew his 1st save opportunity for the Reds to tie it 4-4 in the 9th. I was able to witness Acuña Jr hit his 1st ever walk off hit. Man what a close game! Braves win 5-4!
My highlights: The whole day. It was sort of a dream. I got to see my cousins and their kids in the morning with one playing a high school softball game. David and I arrived in the early afternoon for a free tour of the stadium. I have a friend I grew up playing ball with back in my home town who happens to have a pretty good position in the Braves organization who really helped me out and treated me well. We got on-field batting practice access which allowed me to finally get a Braves player’s autograph...Charlie Culberson. It was so cool to finally for the first time ever be on the field for batting practice at an MLB game. We got tomahawks, I got a game used ball, and just absolutely loved the whole game. We even got to take pictures on the field after the game. My dad and old college roommate came up to attend the game with me! So fun...and absolutely relieved to finish the trip. Whew!
Finally on the road heading to Atlanta. I-95 SB was busy with traffic and construction but thankfully opened up and didn’t have any issues all the way to Atlanta. We got into Atlanta at a perfect time too because it was after all the rush hour traffic. We didn’t really stop anywhere because it was such a long distance. However, I did stop at a Total Wine liquor store in NC to buy local craft beer. Getting to stop at Waffle House and Chick-fil-a was nice too along the way back to GA. I made sure to stop by Orpheus and Sweetwater brewing on the way into town too.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Blue Jays vs Orioles 8/1/19
The Game: My cousin happened to be pitching for the Orioles for this game, but unfortunately the Blue Jays were really good...not just against him but the whole Oriole pitching crew. Lots of homers and doubles hit in this one. Vlad Jr was on fire in this game with 2 homers and a double. Final was Blue Jays over the Orioles 11-2.
My Highlights: The craziness of being able to be at this game with my cousin pitching is a miracle in itself. His last name is Wojciechowski and was originally playing for the AAA Columbus team under the Cleveland Indians. Around the beginning of July he was traded to the Orioles. He had a few rough games but still managed 2 fantastic games vs the Red Sox and Angels. His number happens to be #29 and this was my 29th stadium on my tour pitching the exact game I knew I would be attending a year ago. All I can do is scratch my head and say “wow”. He goes by “Wojo”, because that’s a lot easier than the 13 letter version and I was able to make and buy a black jersey with that on it. So happy! The community relations dept for the Orioles was able to bless David and I with free tours of the stadium too. It truly is an amazing ballpark, and everyone around the US told me how nice it would be. I wish I could have chatted and visited my cousin more at the game, but couldn’t since he was busy pitching and everything.
D.C. & Gettysburg
7/30 & 7/31/19
Since the next game was 3 days away and only up the road in Baltimore, David and I decided and planned for time to explore D.C. and Gettysburg. David was able to acquire a spot in a tour to visit the White House via a Georgia Senator. The White House was sort of dreamlike since it’s one of those places you always hear and see on the news (good or bad). You know it has history all around and throughout it. Getting to actually step foot on the grounds and inside and tour the WHITE HOUSE was extremely amazing and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to do it again! We did have a delay on the tour with a bunch of others in the line to due Marine One picking up the President. After the White House we walked a ton up and down the mall up to the Capitol building. It was pretty hot and we got a little worn out, so we headed back to my friends place.
Gettysburg is less than 2 hours from D.C. It’s another place that as a Southerner, you have always heard about it in context with the Civil War. It’s a massive place. The bus tour we booked and went on did a fantastic on explaining the lead up, during, after, and nitty gritty details of the battle at Gettysburg. If you had no clue about this place or the history of it...you can still sense that something happened there. There is a spiritual shift in the air around this town and battle ground that anyone can sense there was a large loss of life. I became pretty emotional and lost in thought while on and after the tour. Anyone can drive around, park at different spots, and read about the different landmarks of the battle there in Gettysburg. I would definitely hope to come back and visit this place again one day.
Braves vs Nationals 7/29/19
The Game: Fairly close and hard fought game on both sides. The only reason the Nationals won was because of a 6th inning Grand Slam by Rendon. Braves had some chances, but couldn’t make the Nationals pay for their 2 errors enough to overcome the run deficit. Final with Nationals beating the Braves 6-3.
My Highlights: David got to go downtown DC and explore the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. I stayed back at my friends place we were staying several nights in order to rest and gather my thoughts and plans for the upcoming and final days of the trip. Getting to sit behind the Braves bullpen and chat with some of them was a treat. :). I actually won a free* cruise with Diamond Resorts from those spinning wheel games at the entrance to the stadium. I was shocked at the deal...and the * does mean some $ was involved, but I’m getting a crazy good deal on a week long vacation in the US plus a free cruise. :)
David and I took a relaxed drive down to DC with a pit-stop in Delaware for specifically the Dogfish Head Brewing Company in Milton, DE. Nothing too exciting other than enjoying a nationwide known and well made craft beer. It’s been really interesting just to see the landscape and scenery along I-95 that I’ve heard so much about growing up and as a sports fan. I really liked the remoteness and closeness of Delaware. They have beaches, big A.F. Bases, minor league baseball teams, a good amount of agriculture, and really close to the capitol.
Citizens Bank Park
Braves at Phillies 7/27/19
The Game: Sorry Phillies, but yall didn’t show up to this game till it was over. There was so much scoring in this game first by the Braves and then later on by the Phillies. Inciarte and Acuña Jr both hit 2 run homers in the 2nd inning. Albies hit a grand slam in the 3rd inning. At one point the score was 14-1...yea. We almost thought it was going to be another Yankees vs Red Sox game we had seen just a few days ago, but Phillies had fun hitting the Braves battered bullpen around...as the trend was then. Final was Braves over the Phillies 15-7.
My Highlights: As a Braves fan, the whole game. :) I didn’t get too loud or show off type as the Braves were pouring on the runs, but man...it was hilarious. The Phillies fans are true to their uniqueness. They boo their own players, they try to start chants anti their head coach and then verbally argue with other Philly fans, they sing “Fly Eagles Fly” (a football chant) at least 10 times at a baseball game, and were basically done with Harper as a player this evening with him striking out 3 times. I did enjoy the stadium style and design. It was really cool to be there for the 1 game of the year where fans could go down and stand and shake hands/get autographs by nearly all the players of the team. Really cool idea and if they ever did that for the Braves, I wish I could go.
Pirates vs NY Mets 7/26/19
The Game: We didn’t get to the stadium/game till the 3rd inning due to traffic and distance. Thankfully we got there just in time to see McNeil hit a 3 run homer. Pirates had really good opportunities early in the game to score a bunch, but only able to get 1 run. Pirates were still struggling in the 2nd half of the season while this was the start of a really hot Mets team. The Mets committed 3 errors in the game and still managed to win due to key home runs. We even got to see Pete Alonso crush a homer, his 34th of the season. Another stat highlight was seeing Lugo get his 1st save for the season. Mets ran away with this game from the Pirates 6-3 final.
My Highlights: Really great side adventures up in Plymouth stopping to see historic landmarks in the city and region. National Landmark of our Forefathers, I highly recommend checking that out and learning more of our history as a Nation. I really enjoyed Citi Field and is definitely in my top 10. The layout of the stadium, the staff, parking, the field, and all was really nice. After the game David and I headed to explore and drive in manhattan down straight through Times Square at midnight while also seeing Ground Zero. Fun long day with enjoyable stops and game. This was the shortest game time wise of 2 hours and 20 minutes. So quick!
Yankees vs Red Sox 7/25/19
The Game: It’s a game I’ve been anticipating since I made the itinerary last August. Yankees vs Red Sox. Red Sox at the time are about 10 games back from NY, and it’s a pretty important series for them as a team of trying to make playoffs. They started off hot scoring 7 runs in the 1st inning off of Tanaka. They scored 5 more in the 4th with a total of 12 against him. It was a butt-whoopin all around. Bogaerts hit 2 homers, scoring the first and the last runs of the game. The first was a 451 footer mammoth shot over everything and everyone on the Green Monster in left field.
Final was 19-3 with Red Sox running circles around the Yankees in this 1 game.
The adventure of parking on certain sides of the street...is a headache in itself. After parking was figured out for the day, my friend David and I headed out for the Sam Adams Brewery tour at mid-day. The tour was pretty simple and relaxed. After that we headed over to the stadium for an early afternoon tour. We both enjoyed the tour very much. The temperature was quite high and afterwards we headed back to my friends place. We later headed back to the stadium and enjoyed the atmosphere of the park and the fans. Best moment of the night was in the 8th inning, the game is completely over. It’s 16-3. The fans are chanting the “Yankees Suck” chant, and all of a sudden Red Sox player Sandy Leon hits a bomb to right center field while stadium wide chant is going on. Timing couldn’t be any better for that.