THE BIG LEAGUE TOURS BLOG

Looking Forward to an Exciting World Series

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 04:30 PM

October 19, 2011 - Congratulations to the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals for their League Championship victories. The stage is set for a great World Series.

Since our inception in 2006, we have enjoyed multiple visits to Busch Stadium and Rangers Ballpark. But we have to admit that we have a special affinity for the Rangers organization at Big League Tours.  Our group's reception when we visited Arlington in 2010 was tremendous. Rangers legend Jim Sundberg was especially gracious as he gave our group a private baseball stadium tour and a behind-the-scene look at the Rangers' offices.Group with Nolan Ryan and Jim Sundberg

And then, Jim surprised us all by arranging a meeting with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Nolan and Jim were kind enough to sign autographs and chat at length with our group, too. They even posed for pictures like the one above. If you're ever on a tour with Rob, Mickey, Dianne or Lillian (that's them with the big smiles in the picture), just ask them about that day. They'll enjoy telling you all about it.

Thanks again to Jim Sundberg and Nolan Ryan for making this one of the most special baseball vacation packages we've offered our Big League Tours' guests. We hope to visit the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington again very soon, maybe again in 2012.

Speaking of 2012 baseball tours, if you aren't on our email list to get updates and announcements, Click Here to sign up so that you'll be the first to know about your upcoming sports travel and tours.

Tags: St. Louis, Rangers, sports travel and tours, baseball tours, baseball stadiums, baseball vacation package, big league tours, Busch Stadium, Cardinals, Baseball

2012 MLB Schedules Have Been Released

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 03:45 PM

September 16, 2011 -  It might be hard to believe, but it's time to begin making plans for the summer of 2012. With the release of the MLB team schedules for next season, we've begun the planning and logistics for our sports travel and tours. It's a time that brings out a little bit of creativity and a lot of nerd in us!

But hey, if you are planning family tours to baseball stadiums or taking small group tours with some old friends, tell us where you want to go. We would love to hear from you. What stadiums do you want to see, cities would you like to visit, or attractions would you like to stop at in between destinations? What's a spot that you've been to that you think others should see? What's a feature that we should incorporate into our group travel tours? Now is a great time for us to build those items in.

In the mean time, we'll keep plugging away and hope to have our 2012 Tour Packages announced really soon!

Tags: group travel, baseball road trips, sports travel and tours, baseball stadiums, baseball travel, big league tours, group tours, family tours, Baseball

Midwest Baseball Tour Begins in Toronto

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 03:30 PM

July 22, 2011 - The Midwest Plus tour got off to a great start in Toronto. After meeting up with all our participants here at the Four Diamond hotel, we took the short walk over to the Rogers Centre. Yes, it was a hot one, with temperatures expected up at 37! (That's about 105 fahrenheit if my math is right.) The walk over was early enough that it was actually pretty pleasant as we walked over.

We were met at the Rogers Centre entrance by Buck Martinez, longtime player with the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Royals and now the TV play-by-play man for the Jays. Buck took us into the baseball stadium and gave us the story of what was originally called SkyDome. We were there for the first time the dome had been closed for heat, so that's some history. Buck took questions for about half an hour, then walked us up to his TV booth. Then we went down to the TV Truck, a place most people don't get to see. (We went back during the game to see it working - very cool!)

As Buck went off to call the game, we took our seats for a close game between the Jays and Mariners. We were sitting a couple rows back near third base, a great place to see Jose Bautista normally, though he was DHing due to his ankle injury last week. It was a pitchers duel for the first seven innings, a tight 1-1. Then Doug Fister fell apart and the Jays pounced on the opportunity to ring him up. Quickly 5-1, the M's struck back even more quickly. Reliever Casey Janssen walked a couple, gave up one blooper, then Miguel Olivo tied it up with a line drive to dead center. It was the M's first grand slam of the season!

The M's, in the midst of a 12 game losing streak, couldn't hang on. Rajai Davis hit a long line over the CF's head to score a couple, but got the laughter from his teammates as he raised his hands after the hit. Yes, Rajai thought it was the ninth inning instead of the eighth and that he had hit a walk off. No, Rajai - run! (He made it to second on the throw, but he'll get a fine in kangaroo court for that one!) The Jays closed it out with big Jon Rauch, getting the win, 7-5.

Most of the tour group headed to the hotel attached to the stadium to meet up with Buck Martinez again. (I missed this part, staying behind to take part in the Blue Jays post-game show with Mike Wilner. The show goes out not just to Toronto, but is a nationwide broadcast in Canada.) Buck brought along his TV partner, Pat Tabler, for a drink before they jetted off to Texas. The group walked back to the hotel and had a night in beautiful (but hot) Toronto.

We'll be packing up and heading for Niagara Falls this morning, so I'll wrap this up for now. It was a great start to our small group tour. At one point, one of the participants turned to me and said "It's going to be tough to top this!" I had to just smile - while we had a great time in Toronto, Rogers Centre is the "worst" stadium we'll see on the tour and we've got a lot planned for the next four days.

Tags: Royals, Mariners, Blue Jays, Toronto, baseball tours, baseball stadiums, Brewers, Baseball

Chris Welsh to Appear on Our Reds Road Trip

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 03:15 PM

July 16, 2011 - Chris Welsh
Big League Tours is pleased to announce that former Major Leaguer, and current Reds Chris Welsh on the field with the Cincinnati Redsbroadcaster, Chris Welsh will be joining us in Chicago as our part of our exclusive Big League Player Experience on the Reds Road Trip to Wrigley.  Chris will visit with our group on Saturday evening after the Reds/Cubs game that afternoon.

Bio: Chris Welsh is in his 19th season as Reds TV analyst following a 5-year Major League career with the Padres, Expos, Rangers and Reds. Chris went 21-31 with a 4.45 ERA, 8 complete games and 3 shutouts in 122 career appearances, including 75 starts. From 1993-2009 Chris and partner George Grande worked together for the 17 seasons as the longest-running TV duo in Reds history.

He is a graduate of Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida, where his baseball coach was Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. In addition to his television work, Chris is a partner in Champions Sports Academy, which builds and operates numerous sports training facilities throughout the country. He also teaches pitching in the offseason, is the featured speaker at several national baseball forums and publishes articles on baseball.

Trip Details
In case you've missed it, transportation is now included with the Reds Road Trip.  We will be picking up guests in Cincinnati for the ride to Chicago.  There is a possibility of a stop in Indianapolis, too. 

We will pick up folks in Cincinnati on Thursday, August 4 for the first night's lodging in Chicago.  Then we'll go to the game on August 5th fresh and well rested.  We'll attend the games on 6th and 7th, then return home after the Sunday game so everyone can be at work on Monday (yuck, we know, but we don't control that part!).

But, book your tour this week.  We will be closing the reservations for this tour on Monday, July 18.

Tags: Wrigley Field, big league tours, Chicago, Reds, Baseball, Cubs, Cincinnati

Next Stop: Citi Field

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 02:30 PM

July 1, 2011 - After meeting Art Shamsky in Midtown Manhattan, our group headed out to Citi Field to see the Mets host the Angels. It's always interesting to see the reaction of our travelers as we reach the Mets' new ballpark. View from our seats at Citi Field

So much raquet is made about Yankee Stadium, the history and of the team, the House That Ruth Built, etc., etc. But the fact is, almost everyone who has been to the new Yankee Stadium and then walks into Citi, says, "Now this is a ballpark."

Comparing the two baseball stadiums, one notices things like the rich colors at Citi Field versus the lack of color at Yankee Stadium. The Mets' outfield wall and centerfield walkway provide interesting sitelines (at least to our guests in the lower-level and between the bases...). And the throwback appearance with the nod to Ebbets Field make Citi Field look and feel like a ballpark whereas Yankee Stadium looks like a mammoth municipal building.

Don't get me wrong. I love seeing games at Yankee Stadium. The team's rich history and great players, makes every baseball fan respect their success. What I am pointing out, however, is that when in New York, whether for work, vacation, or specifically on a baseball road trip, fans should make their way to Citi Field. They won't be disappointed.

Tags: Citi Field, baseball road trips, New York, baseball stadiums, Yankee Stadium, Angels, Baseball, Mets

First Time Tour

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 02:15 PM

June 23, 2011 - This was our first baseball tour of any kind. So, we really have nothing to compare it with. But, we were very pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed it. GREAT HOST! Great seats at each game. Everything was first class. Very well organized. All of our needs were efficiently met. Travel time and events, during the tour, flowed very well. We would definitely join the tour again and would highly recommend Big League Tours.

Name: Tom & Judy King
City: Muncie
State: Indiana
Country: US
Your Trip: New York, Cooperstown, Boston

Tags: Red Sox, Boston, New York, Yankees, testimonials, Yankee Stadium, hall of fame, Cooperstown, Baseball

Meeting Art Shamsky

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 01:45 PM

June 22, 2011 - On each one of our MLB tours, we include a player meet and greet. It's what we've named our Art w guests on our group travel toursBig League Player Experience. This time, while in New York City, we brought in Art Shamsky, member of the '69 Miracle Mets team. Here's Art to the left as our guests are arriving to meet him.

Art's story of breaking into the Majors is really interesting. He came up through the Reds organization and then was traded to the Mets a couple of years after their formation. The team was known as the lovable losers and came out of nowhere to win the World Series in 1969. It was a young team that gelled at the right time with players such as Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Tug McGraw. A signed baseball while on sports travel and tours

Art shared with us that he typically hears three questions from fans that he meets on baseball trips. One, wouldn't you like to be playing today and making the kind of money these players are making? Two, should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? And three, what's it like to have a bulldog named after you on the show "Everybody Loves Raymond"? (If you want to know his answers, you'll have to join us in NYC!!)

Here's one of our guests holding the signed baseball that he received at our Big League Player Experience with Art Shamsky. Time and again, this is one of, if not the favorite events, for our guests as they travel with us on our baseball road trips. It's another way to get closer to the game by talking with guys who have been in the big leagues. Their stories and experiences make these baseball vacation packages that much more special.

Tags: New York, baseball trips, baseball vacation package, MLB tours, Baseball, Mets

Touring Yankee Stadium

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 01:30 PM

June 22, 2011 - Friday morning of our tour allowed our guests some time to explore some sites in New York City. We thenOur group outside Yankee Stadium gathered together to go to Yankee Stadium for one of their escorted tours. Here's the group just outside the House That Ruth Built (v2, anyway...)

I've taken this baseball stadium tour many times and would have to say that our guide, Greg, was the best I've had in the new stadium. He did a great job of incorporating historic details into the presentation as we stood in the museum and monument park. Many times before we would be rushed from place to place in the ballpark but that wasn't the case this time.

Because the team was out of town, we were able to exit the Yankees' dugout and go through the tunnel to see the batting cages and the team clubhouse. I'd love to show you pictures but cameras, cell phones, etc. are strictly off limits in those areas. Steinbrenner monument

To the left is the newest monument in Monument Park. It's obviously to George Steinbrenner, The Boss, who passed away last year. Mr. Steinbrenner had a terrific impact on the Yankees, the improvement of the team's performance, and continuing the legacy of the team's history. It's interesting to note, and comments were being made on this tour as I'm sure they are on other small group tours, that this is the largest monument in the park.

As you set out on MLB road trips, the behind the scenes looks that baseball stadium tours provide are something you should include. This is especially true in New York where the Yankees franchise, love 'em or hate 'em, has such a fantastic history and tradition. It's well worth the visit.

Tags: sports travel and tours, baseball tours, baseball stadiums, big league tours, MLB tours, Yankees, Yankee Stadium, MLB road trips, Baseball

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 01:15 PM

June 21, 2011 - What East Coast baseball tour could be complete without a stop in Cooperstown, NY, the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame? We loaded up our motor coach early on Thursday morning and headed upstate to the wonderful little village nestled in by Lake Otsego.

Invariably around the third hour of our trip, someone asks the question, "Why is the Hall of Fame out here in the middle of no where?" Which, frankly, after making the trip several times myself, I think is a fair question.

Lemon-peel baseballSources state that "according to an interview conducted in 1906 by the Mills Commission, nearby resident Abner Graves attributed the game's invention to his deceased friend, Abner Doubleday. Graves stated that Doubleday invented baseball on a cow pasture within the village in 1839."

I have also heard that early versions of the lemon peel-style baseball were found in a trunk owned by Doubleday in Cooperstown. (The picture to the left is a modern day recreation of those versions that you can purchase today from Leather Head Sports.)

So because of the credit given by Graves and the articles found in Cooperstown, it has been considered the birthplace of baseball and is therefore the home of the Hall of Fame. That doesn't change the fact that it's still a tough place to get to but it's definitely worth the trip.
Viva Baseball
The exhibit that was new to me that I enjoyed the most this year was the Viva Baseball exhibit. It's a dedication to the impact that Latin American baseball and ballplayers have had on the Major Leagues.

The section had information about great Latino members of the Hall such as Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichel, and Tony Perez as well as many modern day players like Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, and Johann Santana.

The exhibit is a great recognition of the impact that Latino players have had and will continue to have on the great game of baseball.

As you plan your family tours or look for baseball vacation packages, fans of all ages would enjoy a trip to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to experience the rich history the game has to offer.

Tags: New York, hall of fame, Cooperstown, Baseball

Orioles and Rays at Camden Yards

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 11:45 AM

June 16, 2011 - The second day of our tour, we loaded up and headed to Baltimore to see the Orioles and Rays at Camden Yards. For most in our group, it was their first trip to the first of the "retro" parks that started a new trend in stadium design and architecture. But more about that when I write about our baseball stadium tours.

The game was a Sunday afternoon game and, just like the day before, was delayed slightly by rain. This time the game started just six minutes late. Our guests were sitting just above the Rays dugout with a great view of the field and of the warehouse building. The picture to the left was taken from our seats.

On each of our baseball road trips that include Orioles Park, our guests always like this ballpark and tend to include it in their favorite. More to come from our escorted tour of the stadium on Monday.

Tags: stadium tours, Orioles, Rays, baseball road trips, Baltimore, baseball stadiums, Baseball, Oriole Park, Camden Yards