DYERSVILLE, Iowa (WJW) – Among the lucky 8,000 fans in Iowa Thursday night for the MLB game at the Field of Dreams was a Northeast Ohio man, who goes by the nickname Mr. Ballpark.
Mike Trabert first fell in love with baseball as a child, but in the mid-1980s, he fell even harder for the ballparks.
“When I was with my former firm, I traveled quite a bit for business and I was in St. Louis watching my all-time favorite player Ozzy Smith play and I said, ‘What else is out there? What else am I missing?’” said Trabert.
The CPA decided to find out, launching a lifelong odyssey to see every single MLB venue across the country and around the world.
His quest has taken him to every old and new MLB ballpark, as well as to London, Sidney and Toronto.
The Field of Dreams in Dyersville Thursday was number 69 and a location he’d actually visited before as a fan of the movie.
“It’s been great to see the Field of Dreams in person. I was here 25 years ago, but we are in the cornfields outside the stadium, so I’m very excited,” said Trabert before the game.
As Mr. Ballpark, Trabert doesn’t just sit and watch, he rates the venues using a checklist and has even gotten feedback from the MLB over the years. He was invited to speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
“I rate a ballpark on eight different categories: atmosphere, the employees, food, layout, et cetera,” said Trabert. “It’s the atmosphere, the energy of the crowd, what’s new and exciting and interesting and different.”
Interesting attractions too, he says, from a swimming pool at Chase Field to Saki served in the stands in Tokyo, Japan.
The diehard Cleveland fan was there for the last game at the old Municipal Stadium and has seen many match-ups at Jacobs Field, now Progressive Field.
So, what’s his favorite location?
Although loyal to the Tribe and his hometown, he says Wrigley Field is number one on his list.
“It corners the market on uniqueness. It’s the oldest park in the National League,” he said, “And the last to install permanent lighting but first to have permanent concession stands.”
He’s been on the scoreboard, has his own bobblehead, has thrown out the first pitch and even got to meet Kevin Costner over the years.
How much has he spent? He has no idea, but he says it’s worth every penny and hopes to inspire others to seek out their own “Field of Dreams” too.
“It’s good family time, it’s good wholesome fun,” Trabert said.
There’s much more to Trabert’s story and you can meet him in person on Aug. 18th at a special event.