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Fans' Celebrate Baseball Odyssey With Candlestick Blowout : Travel: College buddies end 28-day major league tour in San Francisco, where the Braves pound the Giants.

August 26, 1993|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — It was the ultimate road trip and a baseball first--four college buddies in a rental van drove to 28 games in all 28 major league stadiums in only 28 days.

The whirlwind tour ended Wednesday at Candlestick Park, where the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Francisco Giants, 9-1.

Three Princeton juniors and a Dartmouth sophomore from Orange County and Springfield, Va., lived every die-hard baseball fan's fantasy.

Now, it's back to real life.

"We've been preparing for this so long that I don't think any of us knows what to do after we're done," their leader, Mark Johns, said Wednesday as they took their first steps into the final park. "We're not going to have any reason to live anymore."

Johns and his pals, Mike Casagranda of Anaheim Hills and Chris Looney and Brent de Riezner, both of Fullerton, arrived in Seattle from Fullerton in a white Ford Aerostar van July 27 to watch the Mariners beat the Twins at the Seattle Kingdome.

From there, they saw 17 home teams win, got rained out once, logged more than 20,000 miles, witnessed a brawl at Wrigley Field and saw more than a few players ejected.

And they made it the entire way without missing an opening pitch or getting a speeding ticket.

"It's something I'll never forget, definitely," said de Riezner.

The highlights: Fenway Park in Boston by far. The history, the surroundings and the atmosphere are unrivaled, they said. Wrigley Field in Chicago followed close behind. The Houston Astrodome's barbecued beef ranked up there, too. The low points: Miami and Detroit.

"I called my mom from Miami and told her, 'I found hell and they renamed it Miami.' It must have been 95 degrees with 95% humidity," de Riezner said.

This wasn't your spontaneous, low-budget variety road trip.

Johns, a math and physics major, dreamed up the idea two years ago.

Plotting the games on graph paper--cities on one axis and dates on the other--he figured they could make it to one game in each stadium by driving from the West Coast to the East and back.

Then they got corporate sponsorships and promises from the ball clubs to donate $100 per game to the Make-A-Wish Foundation--$70,000 if all teams come through.

By then, the journey had turned into a media blitz. At every park, reporters and television cameras met them.

But now it's over.

The first thing Looney plans to do when he gets home is throw his dirty laundry in the washing machine and "see if Mom does it."

As for de Riezner, he'll unpack, take a shower, then pack again. He starts school Monday at Princeton and he's driving to get there.

Casagranda, a political science major who decided to pursue a career in baseball public relations, plans to do something ultimately relaxing to unwind--take in an Angel game.

"After all the rush of getting from place to place," he said, "there's nothing more relaxing than sitting in a ballgame."

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