In the summer of 2008, Peninsula resident Doug Booth did something most sports fans only dream of doing – seeing a ball game in each and every Major League Baseball park.
Not only did he do just that – and again in 2009 – he’s now got the certificate to prove he did it in record time.
Last month, Booth received notice from Guinness World Records that he officially holds the record for visiting all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums within one month, in consecutive years.
He is still waiting on another official record – for watching games in all 30 parks in just 24 days, which he did in 2009. The old record was 30 parks in 26 days, which was set in 2008, the same year Booth tried to set the record the first time, but fell just short.
“I hope that since they approved me for this one, that the other one is only a matter of time,” Booth said. “But to have them verify this one, and to actually have the certificate, is very cool.
“I feel just awesome about it – not too many people can call themselves Guinness record-holders.”
Having the official record to call his own was a great reward for all effort, hard work, planning and stress – not to mention money – that went into chasing the mark. Because while some may consider watching baseball games for a month straight as something of a leisurely pursuit, Booth’s quest was anything but.
For starters, the planning alone – making sure you can align your trip to coincide with the right games, in the right cities – takes days.
Now, after doing it twice, Booth said he could probably “whip up a schedule in, like, an hour.”
“You get to know what you’re doing after awhile… I’m battled-tested now,” he laughed.
Being on the road is no picnic, either, he said, whether you are planning flights, renting cars or finding a taxi, booking cheap accommodations or worrying about rain delays.
And once at the park, Booth needed to document his attendance at each game, which meant keeping all his receipts, getting his photo taken at the stadium, and getting signatures from team staff members to verify his presence.
“I literally handed over bags and bags of receipts and other stuff to the Guinness people,” he said.
In fact, it is the proof – the personal accounts, signatures, ticket stubs and receipts – that for a time worried Booth during his quest. During the third day of his 2009 trip – a doubleheader between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs – his camera battery died and he was unable to get a photo of himself at the park. In the end, however, he cobbled together enough supporting evidence – including signed affidavits from stadium employees, a concession-stand receipt and a scratchy, cell-phone recording of the P.A. announcer – to convince the Guinness people he was in fact at the game.
Booth said, record aside, one of the best parts about his two journeys has been connecting with fellow “ball park chasers.” The baseball fanatics frequently speak online, sharing stories and tips for easier travel.
“The best part is the record – it’s very cool and I’m pretty proud of it – but meeting so many people was just great,” he said.
He’s leaned on many of his new acquaintances over the past year, as he turned his experiences into a book, called The Fastest Thirty Ballgames.
His new tome – which is self-published by Authorhouse and available at amazon.ca and www.fastestthirtyballgames.com – is part travelogue and also part guide for those who may attempt a similar whirlwind baseball trip.
For the advice portion of the book, Booth canvassed his fellow travellers at ballparkchasers.com, and two of them even have co-author credit for their contributions.
“It was a lot of work, but the whole process (of publishing the book) was just fantastic, and I really enjoyed it,” said Booth, who also published two baseball-themed works of fiction in 2008.
With his record in tow, Booth said he plans to “get back to real life for awhile” – including working his job as a courier. He has also done a few interviews in the media, on both XM satellite radio and with MLB TV’s Fan Cave.
But while he’s happy to lay low for awhile, he’s not completely ruling out another record-breaking trip.
“I was just talking to a guy who’d done all the NHL games, so I think I might go for that hockey record next,” he said.