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Mapping Your Baseball Road Trip: 5 Constraints that Impact Your Route

Heather 1

From team schedules to travel times, mapping out a baseball road trip is full of constraints. Particularly when you are trying to pack 30 games in 30 stadiums into 1 season!

This blog posts talks about the constraints we have juggled in pulling together our route. In my next post, I’ll tell you about the planning process.

Baseball Road Trip Constraint 1: Distances between Stadiums

The first constraint is the distance between stadiums. MLB stadiums are located all over the United States (and in Canada). They aren’t evenly distributed, and the routes between them aren’t always easy.

If you plan to visit all 30 stadiums in one trip, you will be driving at least 9,380 miles. That’s if you simply drive from one park to the next based on the shortest distance. Jonathan Hacohen came up with the distance-optimized approach in this article. Since he used stadium names and many have changed since his article was published, I’ve reprinted it below using city names.

San Francisco806.2
LA Dodgers365.2
LA Angels31.5
San Diego94.6
Kansas City608.7
Chicago Cubs90.2
Chicago White Sox10.4
St. Louis294.8
NY Mets203.4
NY Yankees10
Washington DC38.2
Total Distance9380.1

If you have a whole season and can stay for long stretches of time in any city, this schedule might work for you. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for us because we don’t have unlimited time. This brings me to the second of my five baseball road trip constraints.

Baseball Road Trip Constraint 2: The Length of your Trip

We are trying to sandwich this trip between the last of Ryan’s select-season baseball tournament and the beginning of school. We are willing to let him miss the first three days of school, if necessary, but that’s it. This means we have about 52 days in which to complete our Baseball Fan Grand Slam.

Upon hearing the timeframe, more than a few people have suggested that this will be an impossible task … or at least an unpleasant one! And they might be right. One of the schedules we are considering has us travelling over 18,000 miles in 52 days, an average of 7 hours of driving every day. Yikes!

So, if you have more time to make this trip, by all means take it!

On the other hand, an even shorter trip is possible. Some diehard fans have completed the Baseball Fan Grand Slam in 30 days. You can find out more about their stories here:

Baseball Road Trip Constraint 3: Game Schedules

The most challenging of the five baseball road trip constraints is the game schedule.

Every team plays both at home and away. That means you need to plot a route that takes you to a stadium during the days when there is a home game. And home games run in stretches, which means if you miss a stretch by a day, it will probably be a week or two before the team comes home.

When there are two teams in one city, they rarely play on the same day. They might play one day apart several times during the season, but that’s as close as they get. This means you either have to time your travel to be in that city when the teams are playing just a day or two apart, or you have to backtrack at some point. This impacts San Francisco and Oakland, the two Los Angeles teams, and the two New York City teams, the two Chicago teams.

On top of all of this, there are evening games and mid-day games. Just about the time you think you have your schedule in place, you realize that you can’t drive for twelve hours from one location to the other, because the game start time is mid-day.

The MLB publishes its schedule in August, but it can change. This year, they issued an updated schedule in January. You can find the schedules here.

Baseball Road Trip Constraint 4: Personal Preferences and Other Stops

We want to see four additional baseball sites during our trip: The Field of Dreams, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Each of these locations has hours and days they are open, and hours and days they are closed. Fortunately, they are open more consistently than the teams play on their home fields! That will help.

I also have some travel preferences. For example, I don’t want to drive all night long. While I’m happy to get up at 4:00 a.m., I’m not interested in driving until the wee hours of the morning.

We’ll also be towing an Airstream trailer with us. This means we need to allow enough time to drop the trailer at our overnight location before heading to the ballpark. While Brad doesn’t cringe at the thought of towing our Airstream through downtown New York, the very idea makes my hands sweat.

I’m also hoping to connect with friends around the country and have time before or after the game to tour the ballparks we visit.

Baseball Road Trip Constraint 5: Expecting the Unexpected

The more time constrained your trip is, the more challenging an unexpected delay is likely to be. As it is, driving calculations don’t take into account unexpected traffic or parking challenges, or the possibility of a rain delay.

If you have the flexibility and time, consider planning for possible game delays or other issues by allowing extra time to retrace your route or change your schedule. In our case, that won’t work because of school and work commitments.

We know we don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate a game that is cancelled due to weather. And if something happens, like a car accident or other delay, we’ll just have to play it by ear. If we are short one or two games, we may be able to fly out to a game over a September weekend after our return. That’s what makes this such a grand adventure!

Follow Our Road Trip

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  1. Stewy Stewy

    This definitely sounds like an adventure! I am glad that you have considered there will be some unexpected challenges but I know you guys will have fun on this!

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