LMT Stop #8: Lakeland, FL

Excellent Adventure Day # 50

In League With America

Big Hearted Fans in Lakeland

Sometime in the next few months I hope to finally be successful at doing something I’ve been trying to do for the better part of three decades…finishing a book about “Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure.”

For a long time I’ve planned to call the book In League with America (thanks and due credit to Brenda Rigby for the name) and the story of our stop in Lakeland, Florida at the end of May explains why.

The Lakeland Tigers were hosting the Miami Miracle in a doubleheader that Tuesday evening and, after reading a story that we were running out of money on the trip, the front office staff took up a collection for us in the stands.

It was a typically-small midweek Florida State League crowd at Joker Marchant Stadium, but the team managed to collect $61 for us anyway and along with a generous donation from the Baseball City Royals booster club two days earlier, it kept our gas tank full and our spirits up for several more weeks until we got some sponsorship help. I am grateful to this day.

Those experiences helped us understand something that we felt increasingly throughout the rest of the trip…this ballpark quest wasn’t about Bill Craib or Sue Easler anymore, it was about “Bill & Sue” who were merely stand-ins for a nation of would-be ballpark adventurers that were living this dream vicariously through us.

The Tigers swept the Miami Miracle that night and we left the Florida State League behind after 11 days of small crowds with big hearts.

The Trip

The Video

Mostly we had very good success with our video equipment during the course of the summer of 1991 but we did have some trouble with the external mic on the camera. That caused us to lose the audio for a the first game of our doubleheader. We tried to recap, though, when we got the mic working again later in the evening and I dubbed in some audio from Sue talking about the story of a retiree she met while he was coloring baseballs. George was an amazing artist.

Baseball Art in Lakeland

…”Give me Just a Little More Time

There aren’t many things to regret about our magical 1991 season but I do wish we had a chance to see more of each town we visited. Quite often the only glimpse of the surrounding area was from our seats. I hope to go back some day and once tourist sites are safely reopened here are a few sites I’d check out if I had a whole day or better yet a week!

Until We Meet Again

Who knows how long it will be until we can collectively be taken out to the ballgame again but in the meantime here is an important page where you can do some good, find some important content and help us all get to the other side of this difficult season.

In the On Deck Circle: The Augusta Pirates

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