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Taking a trip to the East Coast

Last week the Coastline Pilot ran an account of a dream vacation

for Laguna residents Mark and Jackson Christy. The father and son

took a tour of America traveling to 10 ballparks, cheering for the

hometeam and partaking in as much local charm as they could. The duo

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had just left Cleveland and were headed for Comisky Park and Wrigley

Field.

Now the quick 400-mile jaunt to Chicago to watch the White Sox

take on the Royals at Comisky Park. The Sox won the contest that day,

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but to be honest, and in Jackson’s own words, “It’s all about Wrigley

in Chicago.” Chicago, despite its gruff reputation, is a very

friendly place. The subway the following day to Wrigley was filled

with anticipation for both of us. Here I was, 30 years later, and my

own son was saying, “Dad, how cool is this? Your dream, our dream, is

finally coming true.”

A quick high-five and a giggle, man, life is good! The locals in

Chicago think of Wrigley as the Holy Grail of ballparks, and for good

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reason. The dogs were awesome, Slammin’ Sammy Sosa knocked a frozen

rope over the ivy in centerfield, and the Cubbies and their home

field were everything I had hoped they would be. But for me, the

coolest thing about Wrigley is actually not in Wrigley itself. It is

the dozen or so ancient brick buildings across the street in right

and left field where they have erected all varieties of bleachers on

the roofs to watch the action for free. If I ever get back to

Wrigley, I want to somehow arrange watching from that rooftop. Now

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THAT is local flavor.

It was back into the four-door meat-locker on wheels and off to

Cincinnati for a pair of Reds games. Now we had a problem. Before

embarking on our trip, we had decided to sport local colors and

support the home teams. But the Reds were playing the Dodgers, and I

have been bleeding Dodger blue from the first time I uttered, “Strike

the bum out” more than three decades ago. So we compromised. Jackson

wore a Reds cap, and I donned my LA blue. I took some friendly fire

for my attire from the Reds fans, but they laughed when they realized

even my own son was on my case for cheering the visitors.

Well the first of our two games happened to be the night game in

which Dodger closer Eric Gagne was tossed from the contest in the

ninth for throwing what the ump felt was an intentional bean ball to

a Reds hitter. (A side-note; I still remember the first time I ever

heard my own father use some “colorful” language, albeit relatively

mild, when he was cut off on the roadway in his Corvair). There is

little doubt that Jackson will forget my own creative use of the verb

for “to draw into one’s mouth as with a straw” in a discussion with

the umpire from our front row seats in response to his call. The

Dodgers ended up dropping the game in 13 innings.

We piled back into the car for the 600 miles to Philadelphia to

see the Dodgers try again for a “W” on the road. This time even

Jackson felt bad and put on his Sean Green jersey and Dodger cap.

They call Philly the “City of Brotherly Love,” that is, unless, you

are rooting for the visiting team at a Phillies game. We’ll leave it

at that! We sat front row behind the Dodgers’ dugout. We cheered the

boys in blue till our faces matched their caps. Alas, to no avail.

The lads from L.A. dropped their third in a row. In the race for the

wildcard playoff berth, the Dodger’s seemed to be running in the

wrong direction.

Then, on the scoreboard in Philly, they announced that the

evening’s Mets game in New York against the Diamondbacks had been

rained out by a freak thunderstorm and that there would be a rare

daytime double header the following day at Shea. Jackson pointed out

that we had tickets to see the Mets take on Arizona the next day,

what luck!

A jolt of Starbucks (which back East they refer to as

“four-bucks”) and back into our trusty four-wheeled steed for the

easy run up the coast from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, N.Y.

To make a long-story short, we were there nearly nine hours,

consumed half a dozen dogs and an estimated 20 bottles of

$3.50/bottle water. But we saw the Diamondbacks sweep the day, some

phenomenal baseball, and sat, once again, in the front row for the

duration of the two games. It was long, it was hot, it was great

baseball and we’ll treasure every moment. The following day, we were

bumped from our flight, but re-scheduled for a later flight and were

given travel vouchers and seats for the replacement flight in

first-class. We weren’t on the plane 90 seconds when I heard a small

voice yell “FIRST CLASS RULES.” I didn’t need to look. That cheering

voice had become quite familiar to me over the last 16 days of 24/7.

It was a lucky and fitting desert for our fortnight plus of America’s

Favorite Pastime. But indeed it was time to head home and back to

reality. But without a doubt, this had been the trip of a lifetime

for a father and son.

* MARK CHRISTY is a Laguna Beach resident and owner of Hobie

Sports.


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