Darren O’Donnell Is Doing What?!?
Note the title. That’s the reaction I had when I first read of Darren O’Donnell’s plan to visit all thirty major league ballparks this season. But it wasn’t the fact that he was traveling to all thirty ballparks—I mean, that has been done before, hundreds of times. It was his mode of transportation that intrigued me.
Darren wasn’t planning on traveling via plane, car or train. He had the idea of completing the grueling journey by bicycle. Yes, you read that right. A bike:
30 ballparks, 12,000 miles, on two wheels. Now do you see why I was immediately amazed?
The idea to bike to all 30 ballparks came about last April, while biking down the West coast with his friends Kevin and Kyle.
“I had a blast riding my bike everyday, and thought, what better way to spend a summer. I threw the idea by them, and they both told me I should do it. What else did I have going on? So I figured out my route, and put the plan in motion.”
Such a big plan may seem worth it, only if you’re the first person to ever attempt the feat. You know, a record of some sort. But for Darren, even knowing that he was not the first to ever attempt this epic trip, he wanted to give it a shot anyway.
“I didn’t know that I wasn’t the first to do this until after I had already planned it out a bit. This was disappointing, but also encouraging because if it had been done before, it could certainly be done again. Baseball and biking are two passions I have. So I knew it would be a great experience regardless…….”
However difficult the trip may be, meeting some interesting people along the way is making the trip rewarding for Darren.
“It was really cool to meet Joe Maddon. He is a biker, and had an appreciation for what I was doing. I’m looking forward to meeting Charlie and Romano along my trek. The guys who have done this ride in 2004 and 2010, respectively.”
Although O’Donnell is having a blast, as well as meeting interesting people, it hasn’t all been a walk in the park. Or in this case, a bike ride. Darren has also had his share of difficulties.
“……a day in eastern Colorado, while heading from Denver to Dallas, there was direct headwind the whole day, and I was only able to go 52 miles in about 8 hours of riding. Very frustrating.”
O’Donnel has also experienced flat tires.
“Too many to count.”
Through the headwinds, and flat tires, O’Donnell has still managed to make it to the next ballpark on schedule. But mind you, it hasn’t been easy.
“I had 3 days to get from San Diego to Phoenix. (410 miles.) If I missed that game, the whole trip would have been shot.”
O’Donnell’s trek began back on April 8th, when he visited his first ballpark of the trip, Safeco Field.
“Favorite moment of the trip was the send off from Bellingham to Seattle for the Mariners opening day on April 8. About 12 friends made the 100+ mile ride down with me. It’s good to get people together for a long ride like that.”
O’Donnell is a just a fraction over two months away from the end of his journey. As he expects to reach his thirtieth ballpark, Busch Stadium, on September 25th.
“I’m sure when the trip is done I’ll feel really good that I accomplished what I set out to do.” (As he should.)
So the next time you see someone pedal past you on a bicycle, make sure to look. It might be Darren O’Donnel, on his way to the next ballpark.
Big thanks to Darren O’Donnell for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow Darren as he travels from ballpark to ballpark, on twitter: @Baseball_Biking