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January 16, 2013

Wezen-Ball

An Ultimate Road Trip

by Larry Granillo

Chuck Laterza had a dream. In 1980, the Ohio man envisioned the ultimate baseball road trip. What could be better than a group of self-proclaimed baseball junkies road-tripping across the Ohio River Valley together and seeing ten games in ten different cities in ten days?

Laterza loved the idea so much that, with a small ad in the Sporting News that spring, he arranged for it to happen. For $849, participants would travel over 3,000 miles together in a bus, seeing games in cities from Chicago to Boston, and Detroit to Baltimore, and everything in-between. They would spend nights in motels along the way, except for two all-night bus rides, and even stop off at historic attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Babe Ruth Shrine in Baltimore. There was even some early talk on visiting retired players in their homes.

Early response to the trip seemed enthusiastic (Laterza claimed at one point that 85 deposits had been sent in), but the final number ended at a dozen baseball junkies ranging in age from 12 to 71 crammed into the bus together. They passed the time with baseball films and trivia. "Anybody tries to talk football or anything like that, we tell him to get lost."

Based on the initial itinerary, the group of junkies saw home runs from future Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Willie Stargell, a 14-0 shellacking of the Phillies by St. Louis, an extra-innings loss in Shea Stadium, and even a complete game shutout by 25-year old Jack Morris. In Cleveland, only the second leg of the trip, the Oakland-Cleveland game was rained out. No matter - it gave the roadtrippers a chance to witness "feisty Oakland A's Manager Billy Martin holding court in a bar in Cleveland."

Even with the not-so-small price tag (which equates to roughly $2,500 in today's dollars - and that doesn't adjust for any further inflation in fuel, ticket, food, etc. prices), Laterza ended up losing $700 on the idea. From the looks of it, there was never a Roadtrip 2: Electric Bugaloo. Too bad, it sounds almost romantic now.

(And most definitely the type of story movies are made of.)

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Have ... (01/15)
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Wezen-Ball: Through th... (01/09)
Next Column >>
Wezen-Ball: Casey at B... (01/17)
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Pebble Hunting: The Mo... (01/16)

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