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Baseball and Route 66 July 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Sports.
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Linda Campbell, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, offered interesting thoughts from her family’s trips over the years to see America by visiting baseball parks, large and small.

My family takes baseball road trips to towns that would never have made our radar screen were it not for a love of baking on the bleachers while kids racing much too quickly toward adulthood play a game that’s still just a game and not yet a job. […]

This year’s adventure in the southwestern-most corner of Missouri taught us that you can find fine sushi just five miles from an old-timey carousel and miniature golf park on the old Route 66 that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles before interstate highways connected the nation.

We concluded that this part of the country surely has more McDonald’s and fewer Starbucks per square mile than any other corner of the world.

I found myself talking with my daughter about wanderlust and the excitement of travel. About how some people never feel the urge to venture far from the place they were born. About towns that shrivel and die when all their young people move away and the old ones die off.

It was from a complete stranger at a Crowder College ladies room that I heard my husband’s high school had won last year’s Missouri state basketball championship. Who knew?

This trip was a reminder all over again that the leisurely pace of baseball that non-fans find excruciating makes for good visiting, that long miles in the car that teenagers find soooo borrrring provide priceless opportunities for insight that parents otherwise would miss.

And I think baseball’s long history or sense of family makes a nice match with Route 66, too. With the former, I’m reminded of that when I’m at a Tulsa Drillers minor-league game (professional baseball has been in Tulsa for more than 100 years). For the latter, I’m reminded of the time I briefly saw a Tee Ball game being played in Davenport, Okla., just off Route 66 and its brick Broadway street. It was small-town charm at its best.

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