After over 225 perfect innings and 12,000 miles on the road, the Forrester brothers will soon be ready to signal the bullpen for the closer.
The Sullivan East High School coaching duo drove all over the country and took in 25 Major League Baseball games in 25 ballparks during June and July. They plan to finish their all-you-can-watch feast in September.
It all started with a conversation between 30-year-old Tommy and 34-year-old Michael, which of course centered on baseball.
“Michael had gone to every single stadium and I had been to 19 or 20,” said Tommy, who is the Lady Patriots head softball coach. “He said, ‘Let’s get your final ones.’ And I asked him if he ever considered doing all 30 in one season. From there we planned the whole thing.”
And the plan wasn’t some jet-setting first-class affair. It was priceline.com, inexpensive tickets and a well-utilized Enterprise rental car.
“We basically just had July to work with because of our coaching,” said Michael, who is an assistant coach in baseball and girls basketball. “We finished planning it before Christmas. We don’t really know for sure what it will cost, probably between $3,000 apiece. It was the economy version.”
The duo got the cheapest tickets they could find and used priceline.com for $40-per-night hotel rooms. They also got a 2011 Chevrolet Impala rental that cost less than $600 for the whole trip.
They loaded up the vehicle on June 24 and made the 16-hour haul to Houston for their first game. From there they moved on to Dallas for a Rangers game, and then drove to Arizona.
Because of team’s schedules, the brothers had to do a little back-tracking. So San Diego was followed by Colorado and Seattle before hitting San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Then it was back to the Midwest for games in Kansas City and St. Louis before the All-Star break. Tommy and Michael then caught a game in Minnesota before driving to Chicago to see the Cubs play.
Next was Detroit, which was the final game before a 10-games-in-10-days romp through the Northeast. They went to Toronto, Pittsburgh, New York (both Mets and Yankees), Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
It was in Cleveland where the brothers got the highlight of their trip. They witnessed Angels’ pitcher Ervin Santana’s no-hitter on July 27 against the Indians.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Michael. “Neither of us had ever seen a no-hitter.”
But their mom, Nancy, still has one up on the boys.
“She has probably been to one-tenth of the games we’ve been to, but she saw Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009,” said Tommy.
Throughout the three-week journey there were no postponed games, only some periods of rain during the contest in Denver.
“It was about as smooth as it could have been,” said Tommy. “We didn’t have any traffic problems. We never had to stop, only slowed down a few times.
“The latest we got to a game was one hour in advance. That was when we had trouble finding a parking garage in Pittsburgh. We didn’t want to miss a pitch in any game, so we planned for two hours in advance.”
And the brothers didn’t miss a single pitch. However, a 14-inning game in Toronto left them with only 2½ hours of sleep before heading to Pittsburgh for a game.
But that was no big deal, said Michael.
“There were three or four nights where we got in late and we were up at 5 or 6 in the morning,” he said. “But it was fun. The adrenalin kept us going.”
During all that driving, the brothers talked about: baseball.
“Obviously we are pretty big fans,” said Tommy. “We talked about the game we watched the previous night, and things like that. We like to quiz each other. Some teams would bring their fourth guy off the bench and we would know who he was.”
And if someone wasn’t already convinced about their love for the game of baseball, the brothers even caught a minor-league game along the way. They attended an afternoon game in Aberdeen, Md., home of the IronBirds, a Class A short-season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
As for eating, the duo got by with a steady diet of stadium food and Cracker Barrel.
“A lot of times we would eat at the ballpark,” said Tommy. “We both love Cracker Barrel, but some of those days we had no choice but fast food.”
Michael is a Dodgers fan and Tommy is loyal to the Braves, but the schedule fell in such a way that they haven’t seen the Braves yet and only saw the Dodgers at their home park.
When the trip resumes on Labor Day weekend, they plan to catch Atlanta on Friday, Tampa Bay on Saturday and Florida on Sunday. Then on Sept. 23-24 they will conclude the trip by traveling to see Milwaukee, and then wrap things up by watching the Chicago White Sox.
“We have family in Chicago, so there will be a big group going with us to the final game,” said Tommy.
To this point it has been a great ride, said Tommy.
“It has been a blast,” he said. “We didn’t stop and see a whole lot of things, but what we saw from the road was amazing. We saw the Rocky Mountains, Las Vegas, waterfalls and deserts.”
Michael said he expects the final leg of the journey to fall right in line with the first part.
“We get excited about it,” said Michael. “It will be just as much fun finishing it up.”
When the trip is said and done, Tommy said the memories won’t be forgotten.
“We teach together, we’ve coached together, we golf together and we go out to eat together,” he said. “But we realize that as time passes and things change in our careers and personal lives, our time spent together could decrease. We know later on in life, we may not have the time and/or finances to do something like this.
“Traveling together as brothers was definitely something we thought about and without a doubt made the trip more memorable. It was not just going on the trip with my brother, but with my best friend.”