Although the item has appeared on plenty of bucket lists, precious few dreamers have been able to check it off.
Little wonder. In this case, the quest took 10 years.
As of July 24, all four members of a Wadsworth family can say they have visited every ballpark in the Major Leagues.
That's 30 stadiums, most of which are a long, long way from Northeast Ohio.
Meet the parents: Steve Webb, 47, an elementary-school gym teacher at Wadsworth, and his wife, Lynn, 46, an eighth-grade science teacher at Buchtel in Akron.
Meet the kids: Austin, 19, a sophomore at Westminster College, and J.D., 17, a senior at Wadsworth.
The adventure didn't start out as a bucket-list entry. The Webbs just sort of backed into it.
In 2009, they were visiting Lynn's old college roommate in San Diego. They did all the typical So Cal tourist stuff — San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Disneyland — then at one point said: “Hey, there are three teams in this area. Let go watch 'em.”
Check off the Padres, Dodgers and Angels.
This year they knocked off the final four. First, Texas, Houston and Milwaukee. Ballpark No. 30 was Minnesota, where they watched the Twins lose to the Yankees.
Although both parents are teachers and have summers off, scheduling all of this was harder than striking out Wee Willie Keeler.
Says Steve: “We had to work around summer travel baseball and Boy Scout camp — they're both Eagle Scouts, so we always had to make Scout camp a priority — and they also both ran cross country in high school. Well, that starts the first week in August. Baseball ends in late July. So some years we only had a week.”
Beyond that, they had to make sure the targeted teams were playing at home on the dates the family could travel.
One year they didn't get to a single ballpark.
A key to completing the quest, they say, was not being a one-trick pony.
“It isn't just about going straight to the baseball games,” says Lynn. “It's about planning a vacation around it.
“We spent 21 days out west. We flew into Denver and watched the Rockies, then rented a car and went all the way up to the Dakotas, saw Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower. We did Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Pikes Peak, Bryce and Zion [national parks]. ...
Steve adds to the list: “We've walked the Freedom Trail, we've been up in the arch in St. Louis, the Space Needle in Seattle, to San Diego's beaches, to the Alamo. It's taken us all over. We haven't missed much.”
Only once did they make a trip solely to see a ballpark, and it was a one-day Chicago two-fer: a Cubs game in the afternoon and the White Sox in the evening.
“We used about every mode of transportation possible,” says Steve, laughing. “We flew, we took buses, took boats, took trains, we Ubered, we rented cars. We rode horses sometimes. A lot of it was, 'How can we see the sights?' and a lot of it was, 'How do we make it more affordable?'
“We stayed with relatives when we could — her brother in D.C., her roommate in San Diego, my uncle in Colorado, a friend of the family in Arizona.”
The baseball emphasis made sense because all four were avid fans. Steve played ball at Walsh Jesuit High School and has coached ever since. He currently is an assistant coach for the Wadsworth varsity.
Baseball is in his blood — literally. His great-great grandfather was Earl Webb, who in 1931, while playing for the Red Sox, set a Major League record for doubles (67) that somehow still stands.
Lynn, a native of North Olmsted, is a lifelong athlete who played softball as a kid and swam intercollegiately at Baldwin-Wallace.
Both of the boys played youth baseball. These days Austin is an infielder at Westminster, where he was a starter for most of the games as a freshman. Younger brother J.D. has lost a bit of his enthusiasm for the sport, but in the last few years would get fired up about other aspects of the trips, particularly sampling various foods.
“We would try whatever local fare they're known for,” says the dad. “We got some barbecue in St. Louis and Kansas City, steaks in Texas, Mexican food down by the border. We tried to get a true sample of the different regions in the country.”
Steve's top three favorite ballparks: San Diego (“Really nice how it's built into the city”), San Francisco (“It was cold. Middle of August and we're drinking hot chocolate”) and their last stop, the new Target Field.
Worst park? No contest. Oakland.
“The team shop was a tent!” he exclaims. “It's all scaffolding under the stands, and there's this white tent that they're pumping air conditioning into.”
The Webbs hit every team shop, the boys picking out mini-bats and the parents coming home with programs, pens, pins and photos of the family in the parks.
Remarkably, they ran into only one rain delay, in Pittsburgh.
Lynn was struck by the difference between some cities' reputations and their reality.
“I didn't really want to go to Milwaukee and Minneapolis,” she says. “There was nothing in those cities that I wanted to see. But we ended up loving both Milwaukee and Minnesota and very likely will go back there.”
She was particularly fond of Milwaukee, which she says was clean, attractive and friendly.
Lynn has assembled elaborate scrapbooks and Steve has constructed display boxes for the tickets, programs and photos, five stadiums per frame.
One of their favorite stadiums in those frames is the closest to their house.
“We don't realize how lucky we are in Cleveland,” says Steve. “It's such a beautiful park. You go to all of them, and Jacobs Field is still in my top five.”
We laugh at the outdated reference, which, truth be told, still sounds infinitely better than “Progressive Field.”
“Probably the best part about doing this was doing it with the boys,” says Steve. “Just spending time with them — unplugged.”
Says Lynn, “To me it's about the memories that we made and all the other things that we did on these trips.”
But let us not forget they hit for the cycle.
Because baseball is all about stats, we will leave you with this: The record book will show that, counting four leap years and their four days beyond 10 years, the Webbs' quest took 3,658 days.
Which, as you probably know, is 785 more days than Babe Ruth had hits.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31