Growing up near Wrigley Field and attending St. Andrew’s Grade School less than a mile from the park, Joanna Besser was drawn to the Chicago Cubs.
“We had field trips that revolved around Wrigley a lot,” Besser said. “That’s where (my love of baseball stadiums) started. As I grew up, baseball stadiums were kind of like home to me.”
Now as an adult, Besser still likes to spend time at baseball stadiums.
She’s on a quest to see every Major League Baseball park, and if she can, she tries to see the Cubs on the road.
“I have a couple friends who are big baseball people too so we just decided that we were going to start going to every stadium so we can enjoy it and take it in,” said Besser, who lives in La Salle.
Besser has been to 12 MLB parks so far, including PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see the Cubs play last week.
“I prefer to see the Cubs, but that’s hard to do since they don’t play all the teams,” Besser said. “I’ve seen the Cubs in nine parks.
“I love seeing Cubbie blue everywhere. You’d be surprised how many Cubs fans show up to away games. It’s actually kind of crazy.”
She has a trip planned to see Citi Field in New York in August.
So far, her top four parks are Fenway Park in Boston, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Miller Park in Milwaukee and Coors Field in Denver.
“Fenway is amazing because it’s old school,” Besser said. “The Great American Ballpark is just set up nicely. The football stadium is real close and it’s surrounded by restaurants and bars so when you leave the game it’s always busy and just fun. At Coors Field, the game got hailed out, but they were smart about it. Since they delayed the game, they lowered the price of beer and everything to try to keep everyone in the stadium. The fans were awesome. It ended up still being a lot of fun even though we didn’t get to see a game. Miller Park is just a beautiful park and the fans are awesome.”
When Besser takes a trip to see a new stadium, she tries to see as many games in the series as she can.
She also tries to take in the area surrounding the parks.
“I try to go to as many games as I can, but I definitely check out the area,” Besser said. “I usually Google the top 10 things to see and if it interests me, I’ll go see it.
“I have a few friends who love Pittsburgh, so they gave me hints of where I should go and restaurants where I should eat.”
Besser, who prefers the architecture of the older stadiums, said she tries to find deals for her baseball trips.
“I’m kind of thrifty so sometimes I book the hotel last minute,” she said. “For game tickets, a lot of times you can buy them the same day and get good prices. I keep checking them. A lot of stadiums I’ve been to have been close enough to drive, but if I can find cheap airfare, I’ll fly. I use the Hopper app for following airfare. You put the dates you want to go and it will tell you when you should book.
“(My advice for baseball trips is) just do it.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.