Monday, July 14, 2008

From the baseball diamonds of the Pacific Northwest to the back yard and then on to the beaches of Mexico... in one post!

My conversation with Buck and his son Jacob this past Friday night had me reflecting on the journey that gave me the idea of ATV-60. The year was 2000 and my youngest son Chris had just turned 14 when I had completed my loop of the MLB ball parks. We had been in the Seattle area since 1992 and followed the Mariners at a more serious level than I care to admit to. That included their farm teams as well.

We lived 30+ miles north of the city in Snohomish County. Lake Stevens was the name of the community and the Aquasox (Single-A Northwest League) played just a few miles to the West of us in the big city of Everett. I want to say the date was Tuesday August 29TH, 2000. Christopher was nearing the age where teenagers become too cool to want to hang out with their Dads much longer so I started thinking.

The Northwest League has 8 teams that are spread out between 3 states and 2 countries. Three teams were located in Oregon- Portland, Eugene and Salem-Keizer while Washington also had three teams- Everett, Spokane and Yakima. The seventh and eighth teams were in Boise, Idaho and Vancouver, British Columbia so to pull this off would be a great challenge. Chris was not old enough to drive and most of the games were 150+ miles each way so there were few people interested in catching a ride. (20 mile loop to Game #1)

Park #2- Wednesday August 30TH- Our Aquasox were facing the Yakima Bears in one of the sharpest Class A parks I have ever seen. Yakima was/is 169 miles south east of Lake Stevens so the loop was 338 miles but once you get started!

Parks #3 & #4- Thursday August 31ST- Our first trip to Oregon was for a split twin bill. We headed down to Salem-Keizer first where Chris had his picture taken with the Volcano's' mascot before the game. We then headed to a special night back up in Portland. Civic Stadium was about to undergo a serious face lift as the Rose City was beginning the journey to try and move up the ladder of minor league baseball with the ultimate goal being to eventually have a MLB team.
The loop was 508 miles down and back and I had to work later that night so it was an incredibly long day but we were half way home.

Park #5- Friday September 1ST- Chris and I headed North of the Border on Friday after I had taken a nap. On the way up to the border crossing I placed a call to the Everett Herald to check and see if they had any interest in running a story about the adventure. A few minutes later my cell phone rang and it was Larry Henry from the Herald sports department. I read Larry's work most everyday and loved his writing style. After Larry confirmed what we were doing he asked if we would please give him a call if and when we made it back home.

We stopped at the Crossing long enough to throw a Frisbee thru the Peace Arch so that we could tell the story about throwing one from one country to the next! Despite having to cross over into Canada (normal for us to watch the Canucks play hockey) the drive was one of the shortest of the loop at 116 miles each way or 232 for the loop. Nat Bailey Stadium was a neat park and for $11.00 we were both able to sit behind home plate for the Eugene Emeralds vs. Vancouver Canadians game.

Park #6- Saturday September 2ND- We headed out early in the afternoon for the always tough drive across the state to Spokane. The Indians were playing at home against the Yakima Bears and we wanted to be there. 305 miles each way....uuuugggg... still hurts to think about it 8 years later. We looped 610 miles that day and there were papers to deal with once we got back to town. Avista Stadium was full of neat things including a radar gun to test your arm.

We couldn't stay until the end of the game but we enjoyed our time together that Saturday.

**** There was a day of rest on Sunday September 3RD which happened to be my 37TH birthday. It went something like this- Deliver papers, kiss wife, sleep it off and get back at it on Monday!

Park #7- Monday September 4TH- Our good friend John Collins made the trip down to Eugene with us so I had help driving down and back. John had made a few runs south with us to catch our basketball team (UW Huskies) play Oregon, Oregon State and Portland so he knew the routine. The visiting team for the Eugene Emeralds that day were the Portland Rockies. There was a special give-away that day at the park and I still have my Emeralds soft cooler from the day. It was 317 down and 317 back (634 miles) and I was very thankful that John was there to share in the driving on the way home! 7 Down and 1 to go but the season was ending soon and park #8 was the furthest away- Boise, Idaho. Boise is 531 miles EACH WAY (1,062).

Park #8- There was no way possible to drive to Boise and back in a day so we broke down and bought $39 tickets on Southwest Airlines with my birthday money. It was Wednesday September 6TH that we took a SWA flight at 2:50PM and arrived in Boise, Idaho at 5:05 PM after a stop over in Spokane. We crossed the time zone (Mountain ) so the flight appeared to take a lot more time than it really did. Everett was in town playing the Boise Hawks and the first thing I noticed was at the Airport- there was a vending machine that sold French Fries by the cup! I guess I forgot I was in the potato capitol of the US.

We had a great time at the park and on the way out Chris captured a photo of the very top of Mt.Rainier that sits inside the frame with all of the momentous of our journey around the Northwest League.

Six days later Larry Henry came out to the house and took photos and notes about Chris and it made him a rock star that week in Middle School. Larry titled his feature- Road Trip, father and son style... To this day it remains one of my prized possessions!

Just a Dad and his boy watching a game of pitch and catch- 3,404 miles
Memories- PRICELESS

Notes- Yakima Bears went on to capture the NW crown that year (2000) and as of today 7 of the 8 teams in the league remain the same. The exception- Portland has moved up and the Tri-Cities Dirt Devils have filled the void. You can check out the Northwest League at http://www.northwest.league.milb.com/ . The Triple A team in Portland today is the Portland Beavers and they play in the Pacific Coast League.

Thanks for letting me take you back to the beginning!





A sneak peak of what is to come: as you all know, Diamond finished the 11-park loop, as well and I caught her practicing for her first pitch in the back yard!





Two nights ago our oldest daughter Sabrena was down in the Dallas,Texas area to take some very special wedding photos. She was at the wedding of recent DBU grad and former Luray Wrangler lefty Wayne Dowling. Lacey, or as I should say- Mrs. Wayne Dowling is a sweetheart. This young lady is so pleasent that the day I met her we talked so long that I forgot where I was and the conditions I was in. It was the day that DBU played a 1:00 PM double header at Texas Tech back a few months ago.

The temp was in the 90's and not a cloud in the sky while the two of us got to talking. Roughly six hours and 18 innings later it was time to drive back to Dallas with the most intense Sun Burn of my life. It was well worth the pain to get to meet the wife to be of our 2007 Summer Guest. I hear that Wayne and Lacey are now headed to a secluded beach off the coast of Mexico for their honeymoon!

Correspondent Sabrena Carter reporting from Rockwall, TX.

I had the great opportunity to attend the wedding of Wayne and Lacey Dowling. My family hosted Wayne last summer and sent me as a representative to send our love to the newlyweds who had hired me as their photographer. I had lunch with two of Texas’ finest ball players, also known as groomsmen, and really enjoyed being a part of the festivities. This is just one of many photographs I was able to take during the weekend and should be posting more soon on my blog: www.scarterstudios.com/wordpress. Congratulations Wayne and Lacey with all our love from the Carters!


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great stories and great pictures. I love the practice picture of Diamond the dog and will have another sign and treat for the pup tommorrow.

Got 1 game tonight and can't wait for the doubleheader in Luray tommorrow.

GeneralsSignGuyMike

From the Sponsors said...

Looking forward to it as well. Let me know when you are headed this way.

Anonymous said...

awesome stories and great picture from the wedding :D

cant wait for the double header in luray. cant wait to see how things turn out for both waynesboro and luray playing the #1 summerleague team in the nation =D

best of luck to luray, waynesboro, and vienna :D