California Dreamin’

You never know what you might see on a ballpark tour.

If you’re like us, and your ballpark tour is in southern California, you’ll experience everything Los Angeles has to offer. You’ll experience the joy of a long, sandy beach, and the misery of a long traffic jam. Above all, you’ll experience the bliss of sunshine day in and day out.

Head away from the city and you might experience some of the local wildlife. Midwesterners will be happy to see familiar squirrels, and excited to see new creatures like the small lizards that scurry about the rocks. Much to Brett’s relief, no snakes were spotted on our ballpark tour.

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Explore some of the local attractions and you might learn more about our nation’s history. You can witness the might of an aircraft carrier, better described as a floating city cum war machine in San Diego. You run the gamut of presidential libraries, from the crooked (Nixon) to the communicative (Reagan).

And the beer! Lagers and pilsners, West Coast IPAs and nitro stouts. Breweries in business parks, and breweries in buildings that look like the setting of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. There’s no shortages of hops in these parts.

You’ll meet a host of characters that would make Hollywood jealous. There’s the die-hard Rancho Cucamonga Quakes fan who attends every game, always giving recommendations about which players he’d promote and–more often–which one’s he’d demote. Or the helpful bartender who offers advice on the best breweries in San Diego, advised by her favorite drunk regular in the peanut gallery. Then there’s the washed-up high school baseball star, telling stories of the future big-leaguers he went to high school with, and the high baseball acumen of his own son, yet never fulfilling his dream of tracing his own path to the Show. Finally, there’s the lucky ones, the Rookies of the Year, the Cy Youngs and MVPs, who wandered into Dodger Stadium as we toured the facilities.

Oh, yes–and the baseball. Beautiful, glorious baseball. Walk-offs and wild pitches, lefty side-arm relievers and switch-pitchers, the Next Babe Ruth and the Baseball Jesus. Organists playing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and vendors hawking Dodger Dogs, foul balls careening through the stands and the taunts of baseball veterans slithering into the dugouts. For a traditional, supposedly staid game, baseball keeps giving new experiences each and every day.

If you’re lucky enough, you might meet kind-hearted souls like the Walshes, who were gracious enough to host Brett and I for the duration of our tour. In addition to providing us with a base camp, they gave us recommendations for the best places to eat and–more importantly–drink.

But the best part of a ballpark tour is the person you share it with. This past week Brett and I traveled across southern California drinking beer, exploring the local attractions, and watching baseball. It can be challenging to maintain friendships after graduation, but running this blog and exploring ballpark after ballpark has allowed us to keep in touch and share our mutual love of America’s pastime.

Whether that pastime is beer, baseball, history, travel, or camaraderie–well, I’ll let you be the judge.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting the highlights of our trip, including ballpark reviews, brewery tours, and the items you need to purchase at every team store in southern California. Keep following along as we relive our experiences from the past week–hopefully without the hangover.

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