Eric Lam and his friends, Nick Walker and Jeff Quinn-Cane, have a crazy and unique baseball tradition. Since they graduated from college in 2005, the Seattle Prep high school friends meet up every year at a different ball park to watch a Seattle Mariners game.
In 2005, they wanted to visit every ball park around the country (not exclusive to Mariners games) but there were only two weeks between graduation and starting new jobs. They managed to hit nine stadiums in that time limit.
Eric and Nick first set off to Yankee Stadium (old New York Yankees) and Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles). Jeff joined them for Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds), Jacobs Field (Cleveland Indians), and PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates). Eric and Nick then finished with Nationals Park (Washington Nationals), Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies), Shea Stadium (old New York Mets), and Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox).
The trio had no illusions of comfort or luxury. It was a gritty, tough, exhausting road trip that was well worth every second. They crashed at friends’ places in every city except for Cincinnati, where they stayed at a hotel.
In the subsequent years, they amended their goal to focus on one stadium a year for a Mariners away game, ideally. Since Eric lives in Hong Kong, Nick in Seattle, and Jeff in Los Angeles, the annual trip is a good way for the friends to keep in touch.
They went to U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox) in 2006, Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers) in 2007, the World Baseball Classic in L.A. in 2009, and will meet at Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays) this September. They skipped 2008 because Eric was stuck in Hong Kong for work.
The trio grew up as Mariner fans living in Seattle, but like so many Seattle natives, they became engrossed in the AL pennant race of 1995. The Mariners were 11.5 games behind the California Angels in the middle of August. The Angels went through one of the worst late-season collapses in major league history and dropped out of first place. California then came back to win the last five games to tie Seattle for the division lead, forcing a one-game playoff to determine the AL West champion.
“The game was in the middle of the afternoon. I remember the whole school was brought into the auditorium so we could all watch the game together. I was there with all of my classmates as we witnessed history. I will never forget when Luis Sojo hit the bases clearing double that got wedged into the bullpenn siding. That put us up 5-0, and we were unstoppable. Randy Johnson threw a complete game, allowing just 1 run and 3 hits with 12 strikeouts. Also, I will never forget the moment Randy came out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the divisional series against the Yankees that year. The second the Big Unit left the dugout and started walking toward the bullpen, the crowd roared. The feeling of invincibility when he was on the mound was only matched by “the double”, which is when Edgar Martinez drove in Ken Griffey, Jr. from first base for the division-winning run in the 12th inning. The whole pennant race was memorable, but those two games are the ones that stuck out.”
For these friends, every yearly visit is special. They are counting down the days to September for they are truly crazy fans.
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