There is something about going to a baseball game that makes it different from going to any other sporting event, and a lot of that has to do with the ballpark. Baseball is different from the other “big four” sports in that each venue is different, presenting its own atmosphere. Given their uniqueness, there are some people who strive to see a game in every park. They are called “ballpark chasers” and Chuck Booth is one of them.
Douglas “Chuck” Booth has been around baseball for most of his life. After growing up in Ladner, a small fisherman’s village on the outskirts of Vancouver, and playing competitive baseball, Booth was offered a scholarship to play Division I baseball at Liberty University. Unfortunately, post-concussion symptoms sustained from previous baseball and football injuries forced him to retire from the sport at the age of nineteen. However, nothing would keep Booth away from the sport.
“After I had to retire from baseball,” said Booth, “I watched the MLB on TV but I never went to games because I missed playing it so much. In 2005, I decided I wanted to make it my life mission to see all of the Parks. I saw 5 parks in 2005, another 2 in 2006. I followed that up by visiting 12 new park in 2007. Then I started to become a world class ballpark chaser by trying to be the ‘Fastest to See all 30 MLB Parks'”
Booth made good on his promise, setting a new World Record by visiting all 30 MLB parks (from “first pitch to last pitch”) in just 24 days, chronicling the journey in his book, The Fastest Thirty Games: All Ballpark Chasers World Record Story. Now, Booth is trying to outdo himself by visiting 30 parks in 20 days. Impossible you say? You can see how Booth plans to accomplish this goal here.
Of course, seeing every park means a trip to Citi Field, which Booth will be the sixth game in his journey (on only day 3) as the Mets take on the Nationals on Monday, April 9th at 7:05. The Mets-Nats contest won’t be the only park he visits that day; Booth will be at Citizens Bank Park watching the Phillies take on the Marlins at 1:05 that afternoon, followed by an Amtrak ride to Penn Station and 7-train journey to Citi.
Booth has already done his homework, interviewing lifelong Mets fan Lori Martini as his Citi Field Expert (Mets fans may recognize Martini’s song, “Believe” which was used as Justin Turner‘s walkup music last season during every-other at bat). Martini will be at the game with Booth as well as on Opening Day (which as of now is not part of the World Record attempt), when the pair will be interviewed on the field.
Watching games with other fans will be a new addition to the World Record attempt this time around. “In 2008 and 2009, I watched a lot of the games on my own for my record streak,” said Booth. “This year is far different. It is three years later, so with the development of social media and ballpark chasing groups my network of people in the baseball community is so much longer. I am seeing about 80% of these games with other ballpark chasers.”
When visiting and ranking parks, Booth takes many factors into consideration, including parking and accessibility, value, fan atmosphere, ticket affordability, food, park staff and sight-lines. He has visited Citi Field once before (in ’09), but was forced to leave quickly after the game to catch a train to Philadelphia. This year, Booth is looking forward to having Martini show him the ins and outs of Citi. “I want to soak in the entire fan experience this time around,” said Booth.
How Citi will stack up compared to the others remains to be seen. It’s fair to say Citi will probably wind up somewhere between Shea Stadium (which ranked low on Booth’s rankings-and who can blame him-although to be fair, he mentioned he only visited Shea during the ’07 and after) and AT&T Park (which Booth called “the best ballpark,” a statement corroborated by other ball park chasers).
Visiting thirty parks in twenty days is a daunting task, but Booth seems up for the challenge. Rising Apple wishes him the best of luck on his journey and hopes that both Citi Field and Mets fans make a good impression.
Booth can be followed on Twitter @ChuckBooth3024