Planning a 30 ballpark trip begins with deciding you want to do it at all. I started thinking of it several years ago as a retirement-years objective. In 2015, I read a book by two young guys who accomplished the feat in 30 days. The book was fun to read and encouraging. But an endurance contest wasn’t what I wanted—and I’d likely be doing it mostly by myself because my wife isn’t that big a fan.
I decided to do a planning exercise with the 2016 MLB schedule when it was released in late 2015. Then a family trip evolved for a grandson’s college graduation in Arizona. Lo and behold, the timing was perfect for efficiently taking in games in Phoenix and Southern California. So, I started looking in more detail to see if 2016 was a realistic possibility. I’m still working fulltime, so available days off were an additional—and important—planning issue.
To best visualize the schedule, I set up a spreadsheet with each day a separate row and each team a separate column listing its home games, game time and opponent. I grouped the teams geographically, not by league or division. I divided the schedule by weeks.
Then I looked for clusters of games around weekends in each regional group. Time between cities and mode of transportation became a factor at this point. I wound up with a blend of planes, trains and automobiles (both my Jeep and rentals).
I avoided Midwest cold-belt cities in April, and scheduled to complete the trip by the day after Labor Day so that I’d have September available for any missed games caused by weather or other cause. I didn’t schedule close-at-hand Washington and Baltimore as they are easy mid-week targets of opportunity. I split Pittsburgh and Cincinnati off from my original region with Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis to reduce weekdays.
When all was said and done, the schedule came together more easily than I expected.