Every summer, the boys from New Rochelle get together.
The four boys actually are 65-year-old men who, 15 years ago, began a tradition of visiting ballparks to celebrate their birthdays – they share the same birth year, 1949.
Friends for decades, the paths of David Bloom, Robert Donin, Michael Checca and Oren Teicher first crossed during their high school days in New Rochelle, N.Y. The year the men turned 50, the seldom-used double-dog-dare was issued: Meet up every summer to spend a few days visiting one (or more) of the country’s baseball parks or forever be known as “that other guy.”
With that, the tradition was born.
“We actually did not set out to see them all, we just wanted an excuse for us to get together once a year,” said Teicher. “But it has evolved into a quest, and we’re determined to complete the circuit if we can.”
To celebrate their 15th year of touring ballparks, the men, who are now separated only by distance (Bloom and Teicher are in New York, Donin in New Hampshire and Checca in California) this year met in St. Louis to visit Busch Stadium, home of the 11-time World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
As far as the game goes, they were treated to a doozy. The Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates were locked in a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth. There were two outs when young infielder Kolten Wong came to the plate. Facing a 3-2 count, Wong belted a homer to right field, the Cardinals won 5-4 and Busch Stadium went into a frenzy – it was the second night in a row they’d won in walk-off fashion.
“It was a perfect summer night to watch a ballgame,” said Teicher. “We were told it’s usually much, much warmer – and humid – in St. Louis in July. Our night was just perfect.”
Teicher said Busch Stadium is “a great park” and ranks near the top of the new stadiums the group has visited.
So far, the group has been to 27 ballparks as a collective; 24 in the majors and three in the minors. Their first trip was to then Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The group has yet to visit stadiums in Oakland, Phoenix, Atlanta and Toronto. They’ve all been to Boston, Los Angeles, old Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium – but they’ll likely visit new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field (the NY Mets home since 2009) just to be safe.
“That will give us, at least, another five years of our summer trips before we’re done,” said Teicher. “And, who knows by then what city may have a new ballpark.”
While in St. Louis, the group visited area attractions, including the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, and had dinner on The Hill. They also stopped for a treat at Ted Drewes on Historic Route 66.
“It absolutely lived up to the hype,” Teicher said of the Ted Drewes experience. “We went out there at 10 p.m. on the Monday night we were in St. Louis, and there were hundreds of enthusiastic people there. I’m not sure I know the difference between ice cream and custard, but the stuff at Ted Drewes sure was good!”
Thanks to special connections with the Missouri Division of Tourism, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and St. Louis Cardinals, the guys also received VIP treatment that included a tour of Busch Stadium, a tour of the new Cardinal Nation Museum and watching batting practice on the field.
“All in all,” Teicher said, “it made for a wonderful few days.”