Day 2 of 2023 baseball books: Where journalism begins

“The Ballpark Bucket List: The Ultimate Scorecard for Visiting All 30 Major League Parks”

The author:
James Buckley Jr.

The publishing info:
Quarto Publishing Group / Epic Ink
176 pages; $19.99
Released March 28, 2023

The links:
The publishers website
The authors website

The review in 90 feet or less

“As a West Coaster for more years than I want to admit, I’ve seen more games at Dodger Stadium than any other ballpark,” James Buckley Jr., who these days lives with his family in Santa Barbara, writes in the “Introduction: Why Do It?” when asking aloud why he crafted this easy-to-use, leather(ish) bound passport-sort-of journal that’s meant to be taken out to the ballgame, sniffed as if it was a new Rawling glove and actually used.

We can admit it: He’s already speaking our language.

Our first visit to Dodger Stadium for the 2023 comes this afternoon – a Dodgers-D’backs finale to the four-game season opening series.

This book is coming with.

We’d have to say we’ve made more purposeful excursions to Dodger Stadium – in the family station wagon, in the first-purchased beat up Mazda during college, in the family pickup truck with the kids strapped in, to the Toyota Rav that now parks in Chinatown and allows us a chance to walk the hill or take the shuttle — than the Forum, Staples Center/Crypto.Com Arena, the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, the Hollywood Bowl, Musso & Frank, the Griffith Park Observatory, the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty Museum, Santa Anita Park and Disneyland combined. And all the incarnations of The Big A in Anaheimtown.

The plan is to take this book along, to see how useful it might be. But get the word out now about it now because, yes, even as we are coming up on our 62nd birthday, we think this is a cool deal.

Why not.

This is not just a place to doodle while day-dreaming of Darren Dreifort’s dreadful career arch.

In essence, it’s about locking in memories, then compare and contrast about all the Major League Baseball stadiums – ahem, ballparks – that one has visited and may plan to enter into a ticketed contract to visit someday.

Buckley says by his count, he has been to 26 ballparks, but eight no longer exist.

Which forces us to take stock in our own ballpark journey.

It seems as if we’ve logged 18: Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, Petco Park plus Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Oakland Alameda (now RingCentral) Coliseum in Oakland, Candlestick Park plus AT&T/Oracle Park in San Francisco, Coors Field in Denver, Chase Field in Phoenix, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Fenway Park in Boston, the old Yankee Stadium in New York, Municipal Stadium and Camden Yards in Baltimore, Shea Stadium in New York, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the newest Busch Stadium in St. Louis … Add in there: We saw the Dodgers-Red Sox exhibition in 2008 at the Coliseum.

That means we’ve not been: T-Mobile Park/Safeco Field in Seattle, the new Yankee Stadium, American Family Field in Milwaukee, LoanDepot Park in Miami, Tropicana Field in Tampa, Guaranteed Rate Field/new Comiskey Park in Chicago, Rogers Center in Toronto, Comerica Park in Detroit, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Progressive Field/Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Globe Life Field in Texas, Minute Maid Park (Enron Field) in Houston, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Nationals Park in Washington D.C., Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Truist Park in Atlanta, Citi Field in New York, Target Field in Minneapolis …

So there’s 18 to target. Put it all on our Citi card. In baseball we truist.

A journal is a simple thing to carry in, carry out, and get carried away with. Especially this one connected with a publisher that specializes in “deluxe, collectible books that celebrate entertainment and pop-culture properties through in-depth and original content.” It’s listed, for that matter, on the publisher’s website in the category of stationery & gifts/travel & recreation.

Why is Dodger Stadium the place highlighted for the “A.L. East”? Does it matter to a kid? It should.

Classy and classic.

Here, you get to check things off such as a home run, diving catch, double play, wild pitch, a video replay or a beach ball on the field. Baseball bingo, if you will.

You log the foodstuff you threw down your pie hole, what beverage helped wash it down, and what you forked out for at the souvenir strand.

You keep track of what you saw, who you saw, what you smelled, how much your ears are left ringing …

“With a nod to the late, great Los Angeles sportswriter Allan Malamud, fill in your Notes on My Scorecard,” Buckley jots down in the users manual page.

Any “Mud” reference at this point in the game is a secret message of another connection to journalism.

Then, you rate the entire experience, from 1 to 100.

Each current MLB ballpark is included, with four pages to document it. There are even two QR codes at the back for one to find tips on how to get more pages for autographs and scorecards to print out.

What could make a game-trip more engaging?

It’s how sportswriters learned to be sportswriters. Just in a much more cooler way.

How it goes in the scorebook

If you’re scoring at home, or if you’re just alone, this is your new little brown book.

Buckley’s career as a writer has been about engaging America’s youth, from new releases such as “Scholastic Year in Sports 2023,” and “Little Kids First Big Book of Sports” with ESPN and National Geographic, as well as the 2012 version of “Perfect: The Story of Baseball’s 20 Perfect Games” (there are 23 now as ’23 starts, so an update is in order) and “The National Baseball Hall of Fame Collection” with Cal Ripken Jr.” (don’t get us started), as well as bios about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente. He’s also got a history with Sports Illustrated. He’s done about 200 books and runs Shoreline Publishing for his work.

This is very kid-focused and youth-friendly, created to inspire them to witness and record. Bring back the art of writing things down instead of snapping selfies or tweeting out blurbage.

But with its format, it’s very adult friendly as well. A superb father/mother-and-son/daughter project.

You can look it up: More to ponder

== Author James Bailey (not to be confused with James Buckley) has something just as timely as it relates to this sort of journaling: “Major League Debuts: Detailed Bios and Full Career Stats for all 303 Players to Debut in the Big Leagues in 2022.”
The kick for us is to read all the first names of players coming up who were born in this century: Logan, Hunter, Tanner, Kody (as in Clements), Tyler, Bowden, Jeter (as in Downs), Zach, Joey, Cal, Caleb, Gunnar (as in Henderson), Brewer, Bennett, Spencer, Collin, Canaan, Ryne, Oswald, Konnor, Bubby, Adley, Phoenix, Riley, Bligh …
By the way: Players making their big league debuts in 2023 are wearing a special patch on their jersey sleeve authenticated and placed on a Topps baseball card as part of an agreement reached by MLB and the business wing of the players’ association with Fanatics Collectibles, a division of Fanatics that acquired the trading card company Topps last year.

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