How one writer ended June with a flurry of MLB games throughout the country

With summer beginning for me, the time came to put down the books (for a while, at least) and take the time to relax. And what is summer without baseball? In June, I had the opportunity to visit the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown, an entertaining duel between the Cleveland Guardians and Oakland Athletics, and games in Atlanta and Chicago. Here is my recap of June, in terms of MLB, the official sport of summer.

From Cooperstown to Chicago, an MLB journey

June 20: After putting off this trip for nearly a year, my brother and I woke up to make the six-hour drive to Cooperstown, New York to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. As “Free Bird” blasted in the car, my mind drifted toward the day ahead: what will the museum look like? How will I find free parking? Will I learn something new? Will I be disappointed?  While I don’t think the answer to the last question would’ve been “yes,” the idea of visiting a place you’ve been wanting to go to for ages was somewhat daunting. In any case, as I drove into the picturesque village and entered the museum, all these worries went away.

In the Hall of Fame, I got a sense of community. From the little leaguers running through the corridors, excitedly showing their dad a vintage baseball card, to the people reminiscing over a piece of memorabilia, I was with my people. Three floors of exhibits still didn’t feel like enough. If anything, the Hall served as a memorial, but not in the morbid sense. A memorial to the often complicated people who built the game I love so. A place where I could revel in the story of one of my personal heroes, Hank Aaron. As I exited the museum, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?

June 21: Another day of whirlwind travel. After arriving in Cleveland, my brother and I got about an hour’s rest before making our trek to Progressive Field. It was my first time in Cleveland, and was excited to see two teams play I’d never seen before. I found Progressive Field to be impressive, with the Guardians Hall of Fame enclave standing out amongst the others I’ve seen at other stadiums. In any case, if you were a fan of defense, then this game would’ve been fun for you. As much as I wanted to catch a José Ramirez home run, I realized a couple of innings into the game this wouldn’t be so. Tony Kemp hit his second home run of the season (after fans behind me jokingly predicted he would), and Cleveland won the game in walk-off fashion in extra innings, with the final score being 3-2! A walk-off win? Free baseball? No complaints from me!

June 26: With family in the area, I had reason to make my annual pilgrimage to Truist Park. The last time I was there, the Atlanta Braves routed the New York Mets 13-1 with Spencer Strider as the starter. When visiting Truist, my record is 3-1, and with Strider once again on the mound, I hoped that the record would become 4-1. With the Minnesota Twins hovering around .500 for most of the season (along with being first in a meager AL Central), I expected something similar. Instead, the Twins kept Atlanta to four runs, with Sonny Gray keeping the explosive offense at bay. What made me most excited, however, was seeing Strider back in form. Striking out 10 and allowing one run, it seems his somewhat disastrous May was a fluke … or maybe I’m a good luck charm. As always, Atlanta and its fans made me happy to be a baseball fan.

June 28: After almost a month away, I was finally back in Chicago. As the haze from Canada’s wildfires continued to leave Chicago in a literal haze, my family and I made our way to Wrigley. Fortunately, I could mostly breathe. The Phillies were in town, so their hypothetical loss meant I had some stake in this game. A couple of things:

  • This game relied more on offense, with the final score being 8-5. A reminder: if you have runners in scoring position, and there are no outs, the baseball gods don’t like it if you don’t score.
  • It is still weird seeing Dansby Swanson in a Cubs uniform. Wearing one is even weirder.
  • Thank you for the ball, Craig Kimbrel!

Wrigley, in a weird sense, feels like home. Maybe it’s because Chicago feels a lot more like home every day. The scrappiness of this Chicago Cubs team is endearing, and while the game ended in a loss, I’m glad that it wasn’t like the night before.

As July arrives, the main thing that June leaves me with is a sense of gratitude. Gratitude that I’m around people who share the same passion for baseball that I do and that I was able to go see all these games and visit such an esteemed establishment like Cooperstown. Hopefully, July will leave me with the same feeling.