Sports

Vacation gem: 30 diamonds, 53 days

In 53 days this summer, Robert and Bryon Foster, brothers who share a love for baseball and travel, watched a baseball game in all 30 major league stadiums across the country, traveling 13,000 miles and spending about $6,000 on their twin passions.

The first stop on their dream trip, which started in their hometown of Shelton, was June 15 at AT&T Park in San Francisco to see the Giants. They finished Aug. 4 in Denver’s Coors Stadium, home of the Colorado Rockies.

“This is something I’ve dreamed of doing,” said Robert, who at 25 is six years older than Bryon. “I just got out of the Navy and this was probably the only time in my life I was going to be able to do this.”

And what a trip it was. They ate “Schmidter” sandwiches while watching the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. They walked wide-eyed through the new Yankee Stadium. They cheered from the upper deck as Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against Tampa Bay.

The brothers caught Seattle Mariners games in Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City, wearing M’s caps and shirts to each. Robert loudly booed former Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Bentancourt now playing for Kansas City.

“I actually almost got beat up,” Robert said with a laugh. “The fans finally got fed up with me.”

During the telecast, the FSN cameras cut to Robert booing in the stands.

“My younger brother was watching at home and he saw me,” Robert said. “He couldn’t believe it.”

Robert spent several months planning the trip, mapping out routes, checking schedules and arranging hotel reservations. He bought most of their tickets online.

“Except for the teams with losing records we didn’t think we’d have any trouble getting tickets there,” Robert said. “Actually, I spent more time planning the trip than what it took.”

Their most expensive ticket was the $115 Robert spent online for a $35 ticket to a Cubs game. Their second favorite stadium was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park. Their favorite stadium was Seattle’s Safeco Field.

“Safeco is amazing,” said Robert, who has attended several Mariners home games since his trip. “I try not to be biased, but this is the best stadium. Hands down.”

The brothers spent $600 on parking alone. In New York, rather than spend $50 to $70 per half hour to park, they left their car at the hotel and caught the subway.

But in Chicago, Robert paid $50 to park in a McDonald’s Restaurant parking lot near Wrigley Field. A Navy buddy from Chicago told Robert he needed to find parking 10 hours before the game and suggested McDonald’s.

The brothers said they arrived four hours before every game, giving them plenty of time to explore the ballparks. Fans who arrive early at Boston’s Fenway Park, the majors’ oldest ballpark, are treated to a discounted food menu.

“Everything is half price,” Robert said. “Hot dogs are two bucks. Beers are three bucks.”

Their least favorite stadium was the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park.

“I wasn’t impressed at all,” Robert said.

But the Foster brothers were impressed with Wrigley, Fenway, Yankee Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

“I really liked Fenway,” Bryon said. “I liked the originality. I liked the Green Monster. Or as they call it the “Green Monsther.”

At every game, Robert and Bryon mingled with fans, asking advice about the best thing to eat in the stadium.

“And then we’d eat it,” Bryon said.

Eating ribs in Kansas City or a hot dog in New York was as much a part of the journey as watching Joe Mauer single in Minnesota or Albert Pujols homer in St. Louis.

The brothers traveled in their father’s 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass, allowing Robert to keep his pickup truck at home.

“My dad offered … his car,” Robert said. “I didn’t want to put the miles on my truck. I had no problem with the car. It was perfect.”

They spent $1,300 on gas.

Robert drove every mile, allowing Bryon to nap and sightsee. After driving 16 hours from Houston to Tampa, Fla., Robert said his taste for driving spiked and he became determined to drive every mile.

“It became my goal,” he said.

After watching the Colorado Rockies beat the Phillies, 8-3, in Denver, Robert drove all night. The brothers caught two hours of sleep in the car near Boise and then drove the rest of the way home.

“The trip went as smooth as it possibly could,” Robert said. “I’m trying to think of a bad moment. I guess going through the city of New York was bad because we didn’t have GPS. The buildings are so tall. That’s about it. It was a perfect trip.”

Bryon graduated from Shelton High School in June and Robert got out of the Navy in May. Robert started a job this week at the Port of Seattle. Bryon didn’t know what to think when his brother first suggested the trip.

“I was excited. I also thought he was kind of crazy,” Bryon said. “But it was always one of his dreams to go see every one of the stadiums. He just wanted to do it. I’m glad we did. It was awesome.”

gwood@theolympian.com

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