It all started with a borrowed car. A ’94 Dodge Shadow. Forest green. A ride that my buddy Shawn’s parents were kind enough to lend us, then a couple of newly licensed teenagers who decided they wanted nothing more one summer than to check out the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Two decades later, my memories of that trip are about as random and blurry as the pictures I took of various plaques and displays with a cheap disposable camera. But a couple stand out: Shawn rooting through the archives looking up everything he could find on his uncle Joe McCarthy, the legendary manager of the Bronx Bombers; the inordinate amount of time I spent deciding which vintage ball cap to buy in the gift shop (I went with the Brooklyn Dodgers); the Syracuse Chiefs game we caught on the way home (the highlights of which, in no particular order, were seeing a young Carlos Delgado before he got his break with the big club, and paying $5.50 for a hot dog, fries and a “box seat” along the first-base line).
Unlike many of the tales in our collection of great Road Trip stories—see the links above—our trek wasn’t exactly epic. It wasn’t as ambitious as the one Jamie Campbell set out on a few years earlier. It wasn’t as personal as the one Shannon Proudfoot and her family took when she was a kid. And it didn’t involve either of us getting in any kind of trouble. And yet it still comes up occasionally when we get together for beers. That’s because road trips—especially the first visit somewhere—stick with people.
Taking readers to places they wouldn’t normally go has always been a top priority for us, whether it be face-to-face with the biggest stars or into the corners of the sports world to which very few have access. Of course, sports journalists have an unfair advantage in this arena. For some of them, the airport lounge is like a second home. Take Shi Davidi, for example. Since joining Sportsnet in 2011, Davidi has travelled to about 50 Blue Jays road games every season. In fact, he’s reported from all but two major-league ballparks; only Coors Field in Denver and L.A.’s Dodger Stadium remain on his to-do list. (His favourite is a tie between San Francisco’s AT&T Park and PNC in Pittsburgh: “Great views, great sightlines, great vibe.”)
Davidi was kind enough to regale us with some stories from the road, but most of these pieces are about experiences enjoyed by writers when they didn’t have a notebook in hand—which is fitting, since in many ways a sports road trip is the ultimate in fandom. —JOHN INTINI, SPORTSNET MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF