This is a map of the landscape of professional baseball in 1991. There were 26 Major League teams and 152 towns with teams in the affiliated Minor Leagues known then as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and now simply referred to as Minor League Baseball. Between April 9th of that year in Oakland and October 6th at Yankee Stadium we went to a game in each of these 178 parks. A few, as in any season, were rained out. One game was even relocated when the Montreal Expos were forced to play a home series at Wrigley Field in Chicago after the Olympic Stadium roof began to crumble. But 54,000 miles after leaving the Bay Area we made it and we shot video at each of the parks along the way.
In those days, only folks like Gordon Gecko used cell phones and even that beast didn’t shoot video or take pictures. Back then we lugged around a camera that looked like a miniature version of the ones professional camera people use and it shot the video directly onto a VHS tape…remember these? If you are under the age of 35 or so you may need to check your parents’ or grandparents’ basement.
Anyway, we sent that video back to New Jersey to be turned into a segment that became known as Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure” on Major League Baseball Magazine, which ran each on ESPN each week. But since then, up until this spring, those videotapes have been sitting in a box in my basement gathering dust, mold and a bunch of other stuff that is bad for videotapes. No longer.
I have been in the process of trying to convert those old tapes (and those from a later trip in 2003) to digital format and in a year in which I miss both travel and baseball, I’ve been thinking others might too. So I’m planning another tour…this time I am calling it the Low Mileage Tour and I am hoping you will come along.
Starting Memorial Day weekend I am hoping to produce a short video that recounts where we were on each day of the 1991 journey and a few of the highlights from that stop. I am also planning to re purpose my 435 Voices podcast into a series that visits with people in each of the towns we stopped in. These folks have memories from those parks that a one-night visitor, as Sue and I were, couldn’t hope to have and I look forward to connecting or reconnecting with players, fans, front-office staff, sportswriters and radio announcers all across the country.
We will begin where this dream season began. No, it wasn’t really in Oakland, though that is where we started in 1991. It really started five years earlier when I spent a season working for a class-A minor league team, the Macon Pirates in my first job out of college. It was at Luther Williams Field in Macon, Georgia where I first learned about Minor League Baseball and found out that there were teams, like that one, spread out in smaller cities and towns across North America.
This dream was born in the summer of 1986 when I looked out of the press box at Luther Williams field and saw not just Macon…but Madison and Midland and Medicine Hat too. We will fire up the virtual engine on Friday, May 22 in Macon then head for Savannah, Jacksonville and on into the Florida State League as Memorial Day weekend unfolds.
You can follow the journey by clicking subscribe on the Project to Find America You Tube channel and subscribe to the 435 Voices podcast via any of the links below…just choose your favorite player.
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Links to new posts will also be delivered on Twitter and there is a link to the Twitter feed on the right too. Finally, there is a new page devoted to the Low Mileage Tour on Facebook.
Pack up your sleeping bag and load up the cooler and snacks…the road trip of a lifetime starts again Memorial Day weekend.
About Bill Craib
Bill Craib has spent his career trying to first understand and then explain a variety of complex topics. A 1986 graduate of the S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a minor in Political Science, Craib spent the early part of his career working in small-market radio news. As the young News Director of a station in the early primary state of New Hampshire, Bill had occasion to interview most of the presidential candidates in the 1988 election cycle.
Later, Craib embarked on a journey that was meant to combine two passions – baseball and travel. In 1991, with traveling companion Sue Easler, Bill visited each of the 178 major and minor league professional baseball parks across the U.S. and Canada shooting video and narrative for a popular weekly ESPN segment entitled Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure. He did most of it again for a 2003 endeavor called The Extra Innings Tour and along the way penned daily updates from the road in a pretty early version of a travel blog.
But most of Bill Craib’s last two decades at work have been spent in business education. For the last 14 years, he has served in a variety of executive positions with the Human Capital Institute, a professional association that helps organizations improve their practices in strategic talent management. Most recently, as the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Learning, Bill has worked with HCI corporate clients to bring its training programs onsite and adapt to their specific needs and Craib continues as a senior member of HCI’s faculty. Prior to joining HCI, Craib was a founding member of AIRS – a recruitment training and services organization where he wrote much of the original curriculum and delivered training worldwide.
Bill Craib lives in beautiful Hartland, Vermont with his wife Elizabeth and 12-year old son Alistair.
Project to Find America
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