Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
Many people spend a lot of time carving out the perfect bucket list, but how many people actually get to accomplish some of the bigger items on those lists? That is exactly what Eric Mueller is doing.
Mueller, a life-long Detroit Tigers fan, had a dream to travel the country and see every Major League Baseball stadium. He had seen 22 stadiums, but since his retirement some of those have since closed or been renovated. He decided that with his 50th birthday coming up he would see all 30 stadiums in 30 days.
When he started planning it out, it was just a fun thing for a hardcore baseball fan to do. Then he realized he could turn it into something more. Mueller lost his father to lymphoma about 13 years ago and he then decided he would use the opportunity to raise money and awareness for the disease. His wife, Julie Foss, got in contact with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and got them on board.
Mueller originally set the fundraising goal at $5,000, but gained two-thirds of that target before even leaving. He and his wife then upped the target to $25,000.
Mueller is traveling by himself from city to city.
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do this alone,” he said.
Mueller has already made it to 14 stadiums and has experienced the exhaustion of travel. He said that every day he wakes up in a hotel then he heads close to the stadium to find a good sports bar where he can grab a meal and interact with fans before heading to that night’s game. He has been behind home plate for most of the games. He brings an erasable sign that allows him to show how many parks he has been to and how many he has left. Once that sign gets onto the big screen by gaining the attention from the crowd he gets large numbers of fan who come to ask questions, take pictures, learn about his project and hopefully find out how to donate.
When he started building his schedule he worked backwards because he knew that he wanted to finish at home in Detroit. He will have taken 20 flights, three trains and eaten a lot of continental breakfasts when it is over.
He is paying for the trip out of pocket and every cent donated goes directly to the LLS. He estimates that when the trip is over it will have cost him $40,000.
Mueller knows it is money well spent.
“I love baseball, but more than that I love baseball parks,” he said.
So which parks are at the top of his list?
“I was really excited to see AT&T park in San Francisco and Citi Field in New York,” he said “I am in love with Dodgers stadium.”
Of course Pittsburgh will be a highlight for Mueller as well.
“I love that ballpark. I am looking forward to being there because it is my last stop before I head home,” he said.
Unfortunately for Mueller he couldn’t take into consideration what teams were playing every day. Accordingly he has seen a few bad matchups.
“I have seen the White Sox and Padres a lot. I am disappointed that I only get to see my Tigers twice on the road and once at home. Being an AL Central fan a game like [Monday’s] Diamondbacks-Padres does nothing for me,” he said.
It is his love for the game that allows him to enjoy every game and not get burnt out.
He has set up a website, 30parks30days.com, for people to learn more about his adventure. He has blog that he updates regularly. That is also where people can go to donate to the LLS. There is also a Facebook page, 30 parks in 30 days, that his wife Foss updates regularly.