Guest Feature: John R.

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 @ 03:02 PM
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If we have been connected for any time, you’ve likely been on a tour with John R. or you have seen some photos with him on our site. John has been a continued guest on Big League Tours for many years. We caught up with him after our touring season where he shared some things about the tours he took in 2021.

John joined both the Southwest and the East Coast Tours this year. This wasn’t John’s first East Coast Tour. He shared, “I must admit, I’ve taken the Eastern tour at least three times, twice going to the site of the Hall of Fame. I love it because you get to see some of the original storied franchises, as well as the Nationals and the Mets.”

IMG_1173John also recounted his time visiting Yankee Stadium in August, where Big League Tours had secured a suite for our guests. “I’ve never been in a suite before, especially one at Yankee Stadium, between home plate and first base. They bring you all the food you can eat, included in the price of the tickets. Now I don’t expect to get this opportunity again, so I wasn’t going to waste it. While watching the game in comfortable chairs, I went through three submarine halves, two salads, two chicken strips, three chocolate cookies and two brownies. And that’s just what I can remember. The subs had the softest, best tasting bread I’ve ever eaten.”

John might take the East Coast Tour again, but in 2022 he’ll be taking the Midwest Tour. After visiting Milwaukee and Minneapolis, he will have visited every stadium at least once. John closed his statements by saying, “Thank you, Big League Tours, for providing me quality experiences over the years, well worth the money.”  

We’re thankful for the opportunity to host you, John! Thank you for continuously choosing Big League Tours. 

"Our Dream of 30 Major League Baseball Parks Came True!"

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 @ 09:45 AM

The 2021 tour season was extra special. Partially because we FINALLY got to go to MLB games, but also because we celebrated guests visiting their 30th stadium. Sandy C. and Jill R. marked #30 off their list this past August. Here's what they had to say about their experience: 

"Growing up baseball was always a part of life. We grew up 60 miles north of Cincinnati and after attending games there over the years, we decided to branch out by going to a Chicago Cubs game. After that, it became the thing to do in the summer – go to a new city & see a new ballpark. After doing a total of eighteen cities on our own and with friends, it was time seek professional help. This brings us to our decision to travel with Big League Tours. Looking into where we wanted to go next was overwhelming. The logistics were mind boggling - the driving, the hotels, the tickets, the scheduling. We started looking into tours that would take us where we wanted to go. The biggest thing about BLT that stood out was the endorsement of Major League Baseball. Once we saw the endorsement, the itineraries that they presented, along with the hotels, transportation and the seat locations for the games, it was a no brainer.

Our first trip was in May of 2018 as the Southern California part of the West Coast trip that20180512_175645 included three more cities after our parks. We started in San Diego meeting our group in the hotel lobby and walking to the park. It was a small group with nice people from various parts of the country and two from Canada. We did a stadium tour that day and had great seats at the game. The next day it was Dodger Stadium, another tour and again great seats. Our last game of that trip was at the Angels game on Sunday. At the Angels game, we had seats in the shade in club level area with in-seat service. We stayed at top notch hotels & our tickets were in the lower seating bowl with the exception of Sunday. Our tour host, arranged for anyone in the group to go to a local Italian place for dinner on Sunday night and was very helpful with information on how to get to the airport when we left the trip on Monday, as the group was continuing on with the rest of the trip. It was so nice to leave the planning and arrangements to someone else, we started looking into the 2019 trips as soon as they were available.

When making the arrangements for a 2019 BLT trip, we encountered some issues and sent an email to them. Within 15 minutes, our email was answered on a Saturday night which was very impressive. Great customer service!!

Our next BLT trip was the Southeast Trip in 2019 with another small group including a couple from Australia. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Miami with a balcony and great view of the cruise ships docking and Miami Beach across the bay. Once again, great seats at the ballpark. Next we traveled to Tampa Bay. The day of the game we were introduced to Dante Bichette, the former major league player. He gave us insight as to what it was like for him to play in the majors and also what it was like to raise a future major leaguer with his son Bo being in AAA baseball at that time. We took individual and group photos with him and he signed our Big League Tour name badges. We then took the trolley to the ballpark and sat 5 rows from the dugout. We saw the stingrays in the outfield tank and saw a fly ball hit the roof of the stadium and drop for a single. In Atlanta, we stayed within walking distance to IMG_5168the park and took in another stadium tour. In true Atlanta fashion, it was a hot Sunday game. Our seats were on the Infiniti club level, with access to the indoor, air-conditioned food court, complete with TVs to keep track of the game. Our tour host, Martha Ellen did a great job making sure there were no bumps along the way and making sure everybody had their picture taken at all the ballparks.


After setting out 2020 for Covid-19, we signed up for the 2021 Southwest Tour. Again it was a nice sized group and there were a few familiar faces from the 2019 tour plus our tour host was another familiar face, Martha Ellen. We started in Phoenix within walking distance to the park. Our seats that night were in the player family section where we actually sat next to the mother of the Diamondbacks starting pitcher and behind the fiancé of the closer. It was interesting to talk with them and see how they view the game with it being their family member on the field. Next we were flown to Denver on July 3rd. From a rooftop lounge at our hotel we were able to watch the Rockies Independence Day fireworks! Sunday took us to the Rockies game against St. Louis.

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The next morning it was up early to fly to Dallas. The airport was quite busy, but Martha Ellen, made it as smooth as possible by getting us checked in as a group. We attended the Texas Rangers game that night, making sure to get our picture taken with the bigger-than-life Nolan Ryan statue outside the ballpark. We also did a stadium tour before the game and were able to watch batting practice. Next day we were on a motor coach to Houston with a stop at Buc-ee’s Convenience Store known for being the biggest type of convenience store in the US. We have to say it was a one of the highlights of the trip. Never had we seen such a huge place with so many different types of items. In Houston, we were seated with the entire group for the evening. Glenn was there for the game and presented our tour host Martha Ellen with a signed baseball, by the group, for attending a game at her 30th stadium.

We were down to our last stadium for our goal of all 30 stadiums. With an email to Bronte, and a quick response we were able to join the Midwest tour in St. Louis and then traveled to our #30 Kansas City with the group. This group was another nice size with some people who had also been on the Southwest Tour the previous month. St. Louis is a great baseball town and we really enjoyed the stadium tour, as well as their Hall of Fame and just walking around the area outside the ballpark. The game on Sunday was hot, but once again our game-day seats were in Red Bird Club Level, with access to the indoor, air conditioned food court, complete with TVs to keep track of the game and the weather, also a great place to sit during a 2-hour rain/storm delay! Kansas City Royals was our #30 and a big deal for us.  Our seats were in the 5th row from the field right behind the 4-row Crown Club in-seat service section, lined up with the home on-deck circle, looking down the left field foul line. These were the best seats we have ever sat in at an MLB park – Thank you BLT!!!  The game went into extra innings (11) before the Yankees won 8-6. The fact that it was 95 degrees with a heat index over 105 degrees also added to the memory.

In our minds, having been on four tours and to twelve stadiums, the only way to see Major League baseball parks is to travel with Big League Tours. Thanks to Big League Tours our dream of 30 Major League Baseball parks came true! We couldn’t have done it without you!"

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Congratulations, Sandy and Jill!! We are so glad to have played a little part in your accomplishment. Thank you for choosing Big League Tours!

Guest Feature: Dianne C.

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Fri, Oct 08, 2021 @ 01:34 PM
At Big League Tours, we have the privilege of getting to host returning guests for several tours over many years. This is most certainly the case for Dianne C., who has traveled with Big League Tours for 11 years!

This year, Dianne joined the Atlantic Beltway Tour, which visited Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. This was her 9th tour. Even though Dianne has completed visiting all 30 stadiums, (with the exception of the new Globe Life Field) in 2019, she still continues to travel with Big League Tours. She will be visiting the West Coast with us in 2022.

Dianne shared, "Two of my favorite things are baseball and travel, and Big League Tours gives me a wonderful opportunity to do both. Seats at the games are always great and accommodations are excellent. I always meet friendly people on the tour who love baseball as much as I do. Among  these people are the hosts, who are always helpful, knowledgeable, and efficient. I look forward every summer to my baseball tour. "

IMG_1299Dianne also shared there was a tour when she got to meet Nolan Ryan! (A fun surprise to those on this tour several years ago.) 
 
We've loved getting to know Dianne over the years and look forward to hosting her on tour #10 in 2022. Thank you for your continued dedication to traveling and choosing Big League Tours these last 11 years, Dianne! 

Baseball Bucket List: "The dream became a reality and the reality seemed like a dream."

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Thu, Oct 07, 2021 @ 08:29 AM

One if the best parts of hosting baseball tours is getting to celebrate with guests visiting their 30th stadium. This past summer, Joe J. and Mellony C. got to mark visiting all 30 MLB stadiums off their bucket list. Joe shared stories from traveling with Big League Tours. 

"When I was 14 years old I went to my first pro baseball game in Seattle.  I remember the excitement of the crowd, doing the wave, the cheering and the smell of all the food.  That game was a luxury for me since I lived 3 hours away and never really made it to the city.  Back then I made it a goal, call it a bucket list item, to one day visit every MLB team and live that same experience at every stadium.

A little over 30 years later I finally decided to pursue my dream.  Living on the West Coast and knowing California pretty well, my wife Mellony and I planned a trip starting in San Diego.  It was quite a bit of work planning out all the details.  What hotel to stay, routes to take, trying to coordinate game times with rush hour traffic.  Parking was often a chore not being familiar with area layouts.  Tickets… Some stadiums we had to settle for what we could get which was sometimes far from the action.  While it was fun, it was also more of a chore than chasing a dream.

The next season I was looking over team schedules and how to visit a few different stadiums in areas I have no idea how I’m going to get to, where to stay, etc.  I ran into the Big League Tours website during my searches.  At first I thought it was a good idea, but then thought I could just keep doing the scheduling myself.  A few days later along with more frustration I was back to the Big League Tour website with a little different thought process.  Mellony and I talked it over and thought let’s give it a try just to see how it goes and if it was worth it.

The tour we chose started in Cleveland.  The itinerary stated to meet in the hotel lobby at a certain time to meet the tour guide and the rest of the group.   At the meeting we were given our tickets for the game that evening and told to head over at our own convenience anytime when the gates opened.  The hotel was about half a block from the stadium which gave us plenty of time to explore all around.  Our seats were right behind the dugout on the first base side.  Everything about the first day went great and without a hitch.

The next morning we met up again in the lobby and boarded a nice coach to head to Pittsburgh.  There might have been about 15 of us so there was plenty of room which made for a very comfortable ride of just a few hours.  We arrived in Pittsburgh and found our hotel was about 100 yards from the stadium.  We had our tickets in hand and had most of the day to explore the downtown area.  Again, our seats were prime and we had that fantastic view of the city skyline and bridges which made PNC park my favorite stadium.

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Our next visit was Cincinnati, then up to Detroit and lastly Chicago to watch the Cubs atWrigley.  In Chicago, we stayed right downtown and had an extra day to just explore.  I can’t explain how fun that was.  Since we were downtown we couldn’t just walk to the game, our guide explained how the L train worked and as a group we all made it as if we took the L train for years.  

That entire trip was very fun and headache free.  You just show up to the first hotel and the rest is in their hands.  We agreed to try another tour the next season.

My wife and I have now taken 5 tours with Big League Tours and visited 21 stadiums over the past 5 years (not counting the no-fans pandemic year).

In each city we stayed right next to the stadium or had transportation provided to and from the stadium.  If I said the seats were great, that would be an understatement.  At sold out Fenway, we sat about 10 rows directly behind home plate.  Same with a packed Yankee stadium.  On the really hot days we would have seats in the terrace level where the A/C was on right behind us. 

Just the fact of not having to do all the planning and coordinating on these tours was more than worth it.  Were there issues?  Of course something always seems to come up now and then, but they were handled in a very timely manner and soon to be forgotten about.  That’s what’s great about having a tour guide.

Our last tour was probably our most anticipated (at least for me).  It started in St. Louis.  If there was ever a baseball town it’s got to be St. Louis.  We took a tour of Busch Stadium and got to see some great areas of the park.  The game was one of the best times I’ve had at a ballpark.  

CDFEDF23-C49A-49DB-B754-A734851C122BThe next day we were at Kansas City.  We sat in the Diamond Club and just a couple rows back from home plate.  You couldn’t ask for better seats…..except…. We took a break from the heat (it was 97 with heat index of over 105) and stood at one of the ‘standing tables’ behind the last row in our section.  We were invited by a Diamond Club hostess to fill one of her tables that remained empty just a few rows in front of where we stood.  Of course we couldn’t pass that up.  She later told us whose table we were sitting at.  It was the Owner of the Royals table.  He would sit there when not in his suite.  WOW!! Just wow.  What an experience.


Last stop was to see the Twins.  A quick flight and we were able to finally reach our goal of visiting all 30 stadiums with a visit to Minnesota in Aug, 2021. 

The dream became a reality and the reality seemed like a dream.

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Thank you Big League Tours." 

 

It's an honor to be a part of our guests completing such a great accomplishment.Congratulations to Joe and Mellony! It's been a joy to be along side you on this journey.

 

Pass It On: Sports Stadiums Asking Fans For Their "Vaccine Passports"

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Thu, May 06, 2021 @ 02:30 PM

With the MLB season in full swing, there's been information released about requirements for attending some of the stadiums. It's almost certain these requirements will change over the next few months, but this is a great place to start. Check out the full article from CBS News here. 

"Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, are among a longer list of sports spaces that now require digital vaccine verifications. The arenas are doing so because of health safety protocols from their respective states. Those teams and others have been using an app called Health Pass from technology company Clear for COVID-19 screening. In some cases, showing your status on Health Pass could be the difference between watching a game in person or at home. 

"'Guests holding valid game tickets who cannot present proof of either a negative COVID-19 test within the required timeframes or proof of a COVID-19 full vaccination will not be allowed inside Yankee Stadium,' the New York Yankees said in a statement posted on the team website Friday. 'Guests may utilize Health Pass by Clear to confirm your COVID-19 test results for the event.'"

Patrons looking to enter an arena can show a recently taken negative COVID-19 test or proof that they've taken the vaccine."

We'll keep you updated on any new information and regulations as we hear them. We've heard from so many of you that you're fully vaccinated and ready to go. (So are we!!) We're looking forward to the season and see you out on the road! 

Pass It On: Forbes Article on MLB Attendance

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Thu, Mar 11, 2021 @ 02:38 PM

Forbes released an article with some information about MLB attendance plans. You can read the full article here. Be sure to take a look at the table with the breakdown of each team's current plans for attendance. Here are some of the highlights:

"We know Major League Baseball will play a full 162-game regular season, but will fans be allowed to attend games during the pandemic? As the number of vaccinations rises and Covid-19 case numbers drop, the vast majority of the 30 clubs in Major League Baseball will see some level of fan attendance on opening day in 2021."

"So as the league heads into the 2021 season, as of publication, 25 clubs are set to have fan attendance in one form or another, ranging from a low of 3% of capacity (Detroit Tigers) to a high of 100% (Texas Rangers). Some clubs have been given conditional green lights to allow fans to attend but have not received final capped attendance criteria. For example, Governor Gavin Newsom of California has said that outdoor sporting events will be allowed to have fans but that the final figures will be forthcoming. That uncertainty affects the Angels, the A’s, the Dodgers, the Giants and the Padres, all of whom are hoping to attain at least 20% of capacity."

We can all acknowledge this is all a moving target and plans will continue to change, but we're excited to see fans being included. We're also glad to have pushed the tours later in the summer. We fully expect that many teams will continue to ease restrictions as the season progresses and COVID cases continue to drop. We're looking forward to being in the stands with you all soon!

Guests at Angel Stadium 2

If This Is The "New Normal", Bring It On.

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Tue, Mar 09, 2021 @ 07:00 AM

We’re cooped up here in Indy and wanted to get out for a little while, so we took a road trip to New Orleans this past weekend. We rented a car, drove down to NOLA, stayed in an Airbnb, ate lots of beignets, and enjoyed every moment. If this is the “new normal” for travel, we’re 100% on board.

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Besides everyone wearing masks and standing a little further apart, nothing felt too different than pre-COVID travel. Everyone was social distanced while in line for coffee, visiting museums and sights, and watching street performers. Wearing masks into establishments and in crowded areas was strictly enforced. Hand sanitizer stations were never out of sight, and almost all restaurants/sights enforced some level of contact tracing.

Restaurants were extra diligent in cleaning tables/chairs before seating new guests. (Which wouldn’t be a bad idea even without COVID!) All restaurants provided either disposable menus or QR menus on your smart phone. Some restaurants even provided a bottle of hand sanitizer on the tables for guests.

We visited The National World War II Museum and never felt at risk of COVID spread. They did a great job of crowd control through the museum and gave each guest a disposable stylus to use for any interactive touch screen exhibits. The same was true for St. Louis Cathedral. All guests were respectful of social distancing guidelines and we never felt at risk.

We finished our trip feeling hopeful and excited to plan another trip. I’d missed walking on unfamiliar streets, people watching while drinking coffee, and breaking the monotony of everyday life. Whether it's vaccinations, PPE, social distancing, driving instead of flying, or another precaution that makes you comfortable traveling, I would encourage you to do the things that make you comfortable, pack your bag, and get out there again.

 There is absolutely light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We’ll get back to doing the activities we love. We’ll be exploring new cities or visiting familiar favorites before too long. The new normal isn’t half bad, and it feels great to be optimistic about the future.

Thoughts from Travel Enthusiast, John Golicz

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Wed, Feb 24, 2021 @ 12:45 PM

An interesting piece was released by the CEO of Travel & Adventure Show Series, John Golicz. He shared his frustration with the “politics and misinformation” around COVID-19. He also shares his enthusiasm for getting back to traveling. You can read the full piece here.

Here are a few excerpts we found particularly worth noting.


“No, I’m not a denier or conspiracy theorist. I’m a numbers guy, a businessperson and a Travel Enthusiast. But it’s time already. It’s time to start telling the American Traveler it’s OK. It’s OK to plan and it’s OK to book.”

“COVID-19 Cases are down nearly 77% since its peak 6 weeks ago. The CDC estimates over 30%, and possibly up to 55%, of the general population has some immunity to COVID-19 by either having it or previous exposure."

 

"Now, add in the amount of people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and that figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March."

 

"Be sure to read this: We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April , Wall Street Journal, February 18th - by Dr. Marty Makary, Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. His prediction: ‘… COVID-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts.’”

 Golicz also shared some thoughts on his recent traveling experience:

Never once did we feel remotely uncomfortable. Airport, airline and passengers all doing their part. The rental car had a seal on door saying ‘SANITIZED,’ the Westin Hotel ‘NAILED IT,’ and the restaurants did it right.”

“According to the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Risk of Covid-19 During Air Travel, the risk of contracting COVID-19 during air travel is lower than from an office building, classroom, supermarket, or commuter train!"

After the trip, Golicz and his wife plan to take another trip in April and again in May.

We thought you would enjoy John's perspective, as we know so many of you are ready to travel - and the numbers are starting to support travel becoming a reality. We’re glad to have pushed our 2021 tours out to July and August as the response has been extremely positive. We hope that you’ll join us for a Big League Tour this year!

Pass It On: Reports: MLB to begin 2021 on time, allow limited number of fans

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 @ 11:00 AM

NBC Sports posted an article surrounding the speculation of the start of the MLB season.

"Major League Baseball reportedly informed teams Monday that they should expect to start spring training on time and prepare for a full 162-game campaign. The league also outlined guidelines for letting fans into games, not requiring vaccination checks or negative test results but enforcing social-distancing guidelines and other spread-prevention measures."

"Fans will be allowed to attend games this season with teams required to spread them out using 'pod' seating where groups are separated from one another by at least six feet, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported Monday night. Fans will have to wear a mask everywhere but their seats, hand-washing stations must be widely accessible and lines to get into the ballpark will abide by social distancing." Continue reading...

While nothing is definite and there are no guarantees, we're optimistic about the start of the season and the direction the league seems to be heading. 

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Topics: travel, Baseball, ballparks, 2021 baseball

BLT Guest Highlight: Marie T.

Posted by Bronte Eaker on Fri, Jan 31, 2020 @ 02:18 PM

As you can imagine, after hosting baseball tours for 15 seasons, we get to meet some great folks. Marie T. is certainly one of them and has been a faithful traveler with us for quite a few years. Marie, from Upstate New York, first traveled with us in 2007 on a West Coast Tour. Since then, she has been on 4 tours with us and has plans to travel again with us in 2020!

Marie shared one of her favorite things about traveling with Big League Tours. "I like the fact that I am in the company of other baseball fanatics! Despite our different team loyalties, we share a love of the sport which makes for camaraderie and in some cases, lasting friendships." 

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Marie told us about her favorite memory from a Mideast Tour. "In Toronto, Buck Martinez gave a memorable behind the scenes experience of the workings of the broadcast booth and it gave a lasting appreciation of the difficulties and challenges involved in televising the games. We probably take the broadcasting of games for granted and I doubt we would if we had any knowledge at all of what was required! I know I no longer do!" Marie is pictured next to Buck at Rodgers Centre in Toronto. 

Marie had a few things to say about the experiences Big League Tours provides. "I would recommend Big League Tours because of the extraordinary customer service. We stay at first class hotels, we always have excellent seats at the game. The guides are always friendly and concerned about ensuring that our experience is a positive one."

She went on to say, "I highly recommend Big League Tours for anyone whose 'Bucket List' includes visiting all the Major League ballparks. It facilitates attainment of the goal by removing all the nightmares of how to get from place to place - getting hotels - getting tickets etc. It is a first class way of attaining your goal!"

We are thankful for Marie and having the privilege of hosting her for so many tours. (We love them as much as you do, Marie!) If you're wanting to check the MLB ballparks off your bucket list too, join us for a tour in 2020! 

 

Topics: travel, Baseball, ballparks, 2020 baseball trips