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Running the bases

West Linn family aims to see all 30 major league ballparks


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: JIM SCHAUB - Jim Schaub, right, and his son, Scott, checked Camden Yards in Baltimore off their list in 2008.For a long time, throughout his entire childhood in St. Louis, Mo., Jim Schaub only saw one professional baseball field.

That was Busch Stadium, home of his family’s beloved Cardinals. Schaub’s father took him and his six siblings to home games whenever possible, but to follow his team on the road, Schaub could only rely on newspapers or the transistor radio parked next to his bed.

The concept of attending road games in person, or even watching on television, was still years away from permeating American baseball culture.

Schaub — who now lives in West Linn — couldn’t have known that one day, decades later, he would begin a quest with his then teenaged son, Scott, to see not one but all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums across the country — from the glistening bay outside of San Francisco’s AT&T Park to the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston, and everything in between.

It started with a trip to the Bay Area when Scott was in middle school.

“After seeing the Bay Area, it was just a natural gravitation,” Jim Schaub said. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we see other stadiums?’”

Over the years, the father and son have checked stadiums off the list in spurts, planning trips around three-game series that often featured their beloved Cardinals. Their most recent East Coast swing in September brought the total number of parks they’ve seen to 20.

Perhaps the most memorable trip took place when Scott was 16, and the Schaubs embarked on an 1,800-mile-road trip during 11 days along the East Coast — starting in New York and charging through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

The highlights were many: sitting in the famous right field bleachers when the Yankees played the Red Sox in one of the very last games at the old Yankee Stadium; soaking in the intimate, historic atmosphere at Fenway Park; deciding on a whim to drive from D.C. to New York a day early — and catching another Yankee game — when Scott found himself bored with the capitol’s tourist options.

Most of all, it was a rare chance for Schaub to spend one-on-one time with his son.

“It’s been a lot of fun just from the perspective of spending time with your kid one-on-one,” Schaub said. “I try to make a point of that, because although my childhood was great — we never lacked for entertainment — the one-on-one time was not there as much.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: JIM SCHAUB - The Schaubs prepare to board the subway in New York after watching the last Red Sox-Yankees game at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008. The new Yankee Stadium is in the background.

For Scott, the trips also provided a golden opportunity to travel the country and see far more than freshly cut baseball diamonds.

“That was one of my favorite parts for sure,” Scott said. “Just getting a chance to see a city that I probably wouldn’t otherwise get to.”

“I travel a lot for a living,” Jim Schaub said. “The one thing that’s really helped is for Scott to be able to see these cities. He’s seen a fair amount of the U.S. now and seen a lot of diversity out there.”

After their last trip in early September — which included visits to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis — the Schaubs still have a number of stadiums left to check off the list. They’ll need to make a trip to Texas at some point to hit stadiums in Houston and Arlington. Atlanta, Miami and Tampa also beckon, along with Kansas City, Toronto, Minnesota and Detroit.

At each future stop, as they’ve always done, the Schaubs will challenge each other to find one interesting feature of the ballpark that distinguishes it from the rest — even at what Scott calls the “cookie-cutter” stadiums that at first glance lack any sort of character.

“Some of them aren’t great,” Scott said. “But we always look for one unique feature.”

They hesitate to name names when it comes to the less impressive parks, but the best of the bunch made distinct impressions.

“One that I admire more than anything is Fenway Park,” Jim Schaub said. “How quaint it is, how unique, and they’ve done an outstanding job of renovating where it’s pristine inside and outside it’s unassuming.”

With Scott beginning his senior year at Oregon State this week, neither father nor son knows exactly when the next trip might take place. After graduating, Scott intends to study in Europe.

“I’m not sure when the next trip will be,” Jim Schaub said. “Maybe next year, but the trips might be more abbreviated.”

Life will get in the way, as it always does, but the Schaubs are intent to finish what they started.

“I want to get to all of them,” Scott said. “For sure.”

Patrick Malee can be reached at pmalee@westlinntidings.com and 503-636-1281, ext. 106. Follow him on Twitter, @pmalee_wl

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