It seems every hobby has its own way of getting people together.
If you play a game or something along those lines, or collect something — there are groups and, often time, meetups.
A few years back, I stumbled across a National Parks Passport program. Basically, you go to a national park and get your passport stamped. It was a really cool idea and one I knew I wanted to be part of, despite not visiting as many national parks as I would like. I did get one though, and over the course of the past few years, I’ve been able to get stamps as I go along.
There’s also a growing group online for it and they have an annual event. I haven’t made it to that event (and who knows if I ever will, but it’s there and it’s a pretty cool deal), but it gives people with this common interest the ability to meet and hang out.
Passport programs as a whole are really cool. It challenges you to get out and fill that passport, which, in turn, makes you go do something.
Enter the Ballpark Passport.
Creator Tim Parks came up with the idea and started the program in 2010. I’ll have a more in-depth post about the program and the history of it upcoming within the next week, but for now this is about his event he held in Cincinnati this past July.
The quick rundown though — the Passport Program is in Major League Baseball and in the minors, as well as in the independent Atlantic League. Expansion has taken time, but the program has continued to grow and grow.
The official Facebook group is an extremely active one with hundreds of people in it. They post photos and chat with one another. They set up meetups, affectionately called “Stampedes.”
The ultimate Stampede event was held in July.
This wasn’t just any event, though.
Tim actually gave every person a free ticket to the event — the game and everything surrounding it. We had the chance to tour the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, as well as get into the park early to watch batting practice. The event also included an incredible question-and-answer session with broadcasters Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley.
The only kicker to all of this is you had to be a Passport user. Outside of that, it was a day of baseball and activities.
There were a lot of people at this event. And, honestly, this is something I should have posted about months and months ago. Alas, I didn’t.
For the most part, I kind of just wandered. I spoke with a few people here and there and I kind of people watched. Batting practice was a lot of fun. It’s not often you get so close to this before gates opened, so it was enjoyable.
Once the game started, the group was in a section together. Alas, I continued to wander. I watched the game from above the section on a little leaning rail. For the final few innings, I headed up to a high level of the stadium to take it in and put my feet up.
The event was a blast and it’s one I see myself attending in future years. I already have plans to do so this year and it’s going to be at the end of a big Midwest baseball trip this upcoming summer.
For those who attended the inaugural event, you already know how great it is. For those who haven’t been — if you are a baseball passport user, it’s well worth planning the trip!