This adventure really began with my 40th birthday a couple of years ago; but that's another story for another day.
In order to level-set, I'll start the story at Chapter One. In the Spring of 2008, my cousin Mike in Illinois told me about his summer plans: he and his brother were going to take a trip to the East Coast and back, stopping in various ballparks to enjoy baseball games along the way. I was immediately envious of the experience; several major league landmarks, great teams, exciting games, and some brotherly bonding time.
I was gripped by the possibility of doing this myself someday...but how? And with whom? The plan itself went to the back burner, until August 9, 2008.
A few words about my brother-in-law Mark. Without sounding too corny, Mark is awesome. His sense of humor and demeanor are astounding; I've only known him a few years but we get along as if we'd been pals for years ...our communication is very relaxed and...we really do have a brotherly connection. I trust him, I am overjoyed that my sister found him, and I'm completely glad he and his family are in our lives now. Besides that, he is 100% fun, appreciates the proper beer (Guinness!) and aside from our 'Chicago connection,' we have come to share a common appreciation for baseball. Definitely in different ways (I think Mark is primarily a soccer fan!), but it's a special connection for us.
OK, this is my brother-in-law Mark (on the right) - we're on the train after the Cardinals @ Cubs game August 9th, 2008. This is really the day my plan started to roll.
My family and I were in town to celebrate the baptism of Mark and my sister's son (I was his Godfather). Mark surprised me with Cubs tickets when we showed up (the Minister who performed the baptism had them and couldn't make the game, long story but he ended up giving them to Mark and I) and we were pretty much on our way to the game amongst the calamity of an already busy weekend.
We were at the game, and had such a great time - I didn't want it to end. Mark and I, some great folks from St. Louis (jeering at the Cubbies the whole time), a couple of beers, some nachos, wonderful weather...and truly FANTASTIC field box seats, right behind home plate. I was almost upset at the thought that the game would be over soon...and that this whole experience would be over.
Then I was seized by the jester of inspiration. "Mark, you know what...next summer we need to go on a baseball tour...you know hit a game a day for a week or so." he didn't even blink. We got on so well with the folks from St. Louis, they offered to treat us to a game if we were ever in STL during a weekday...when I proposed the tour to Mark, his immediate response was "...and we can go to St. Louis on a weekday."
We worked out an itinerary, played BINGO with team schedules (I can't believe Mark found a solid week of home games, right along the path we'd plotted out), planned, plotted, GOT PERMISSION FROM OUR WIVES, and thus, the Brother-In-Law (BIL) Baseball Tour 2009 is officially a GO for the last week of August.
The credit for this idea, again, goes to my cousin Mike. Coolest White Sox fan in the universe. Thanks to him for giving me the idea to do this.
Melissa, thank YOU so much for your part in this. Mark, you RULE for saying yes, this is going to be a BLAST. Good job both of you. No more corny stuff, now...on with the BASEBALL TOUR!!!!