Oct 22, 2013 at 10:36 AM
Baseball boasts all kinds of extraordinary streaks.
Take Cal Ripken Jr. He played in more consecutive games — 2,632, all with the Baltimore Orioles — than any other Major League Baseball player.
And, since 1941, no professional ball player has come close to breaking Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.
These Hall of Famers set their records by playing at their home stadiums in Baltimore and New York, as well as famous fields in many other American cities. But never did they approach a benchmark set by Bernie and Raymond Seiler, a father-son duo hailing from Sandusky.
The two achieved something most baseball fans can only dream about: From 1994 to 2001, they visited every home stadium of the 30 Major League Baseball teams.
Read Andy Ouriel's blog about growing up with baseball HERE
Some venues they visited, including the older Pittsburgh and Houston parks, no longer host professional baseball games.
Their trips were often well-timed. They watched a game in Montreal, for instance, just a few years before the Expos left Canada for Washington, D.C. The team is now called the Nationals.
So, while the World Series starts this week — and the Cleveland Indians have yet again lost an opportunity to play in the coveted game — there’s still a decidedly local tie to professional baseball.
Enter the Seilers.
They’ve watched major league games all across North America, in the shadows of iconic American landmarks such as the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Mountains and the Space Needle. It’s a feat some professional ball players, who don’t even pay for travel or admittance to stadiums, never accomplish in their careers.
While the Seiler clan and other relatives joined them in their years-long quest, it was the father, Bernie and son, Raymond, who personally crossed off all 30 venues on their checklist.
“It was a great experience,” said Bernie, a former Sandusky High math teacher who retired in 2011 after 35 years of service.
Their eight-year journey began in 1994, when Bernie’s daughter, Allyson, bonded with a pen pal from a southern Chicago neighborhood.
“We decided to go visit her, and we thought we would stop at some ballparks,” Bernie said.
Bernie, his wife, Candace, and Raymond and Allyson ventured to Chicago to watch the White Sox play — thus unofficially launching the Seiler stadium tour.
Soon, like students studying for a final exam, the Seilers were carefully outlining baseball trips before each summer. They would sandwich a few games between outings at amusement parks and campgrounds.
“Baseball is something that’s easy to share, and it’s what you do in the summer,” Bernie said. “As I grew up, I played baseball. My son grew up playing baseball. And it’s the easiest sport to get to. There’s all kinds of baseball games.”
Among the more notable stops on their journeys: Bernie and Raymond watched the Indians host an All-Star Game and World Series in 1997.
Outside Ohio, they saw many other hallmarks of the game, including:
• Ivy sprouting from Wrigley Field’s brick wall, with vibrant green leaves covering the entire outfield boundary.
• The Green Monster, a 37-foot-tall wall inside Fenway Park, eternally challenging hitters to smash a pitch over it.
• Boaters paddling around San Francisco Bay, the body of water abutting the Giants stadium.
“Every stadium is different, and they each provide something different,” Bernie said.
Raymond, a 2004 Sandusky High grad who now works as an attorney in Marietta, recalls scarfing down a Little Caesars pizza at a Detroit Tigers game. He paired it with a treat he ate at almost every single stadium.
“I probably got a snow cone at every stadium we went to,” Raymond said. He also collected pennants, the team flags he purchased at souvenir shops in each stadium.
Each flag still resonates with him today, reminding him of games lost to time and the record books.
On gazing at a Toronto Blue Jays pennant, he remembers receiving five game balls in one game.
With a quick glance at an Oakland Athletics pennant, he recalls wearing an oversized foam-green cowboy hat that was handed out at the gate.
And yet, all the treats and trinkets in the world can’t live up to Raymond’s favorite aspect of his childhood summers.
“The best part of it was the traveling,” he said. “I got to spend three or four days with my dad just driving around. It’s a great way to see the country.”
Bernie and Raymond aren’t planning any more trips to see newer stadiums, at least not for now.
They’d recommend any baseball fan pursue a similar trip.
Their suggestions for must-see stadiums? Bernie urges fans to visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, while Raymond recommends Wrigley Field.
“It’s just a neat vacation,” said Bernie, who still announces Sandusky High basketball and football games. “If you like baseball, there is so much to do. Every trip is unique, and certainly, baseball is the highlight.”