Eight devoted baseball fans sat around a table in a restaurant in a New York hotel, gripped by tales told by retired American and Major League baseball umpire Al Clark. As the guests enjoyed their lunch, Al excitedly shared stories from his 26 years as an umpire, focusing on his journey to the major leagues.
Debra Waldron of Seattle, Washington, listened attentively, fascinated by Al’s unique perspective. “I had no idea how umpires got to the big leagues, nor how it worked for them to move from one league to another, or that they would act as an umpire in other countries, where baseball has various leagues,” Debra says.
“One thing that stuck with me is Al said every game has three teams on the field: two baseball teams and an umpire team,” she adds. “I had never thought of it that way.”
After Al and the guests chatted about their opinions of Pete Rose and Edgar Martínez, Debra and her traveling companion Beth Schultz departed in high spirits, ready for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown, New York.
“It was the best way to start off the induction weekend,” Debra says of Al’s presentation, “Ump’s Eye View,” a routine feature of Sports Travel and Tours’ baseball packages.
Not only did the Hall of Fame induction weekend mark Debra’s first time meeting Al, it also was her first time traveling with Sports Travel and Tours. Looking for a way to see Ken Griffey Jr.’s induction, Debra began searching the internet and found Sports Travel and Tours through the Seattle Mariners’ website.
“I really wanted to go to the Hall of Fame when Griffey was going to be inducted,” Debra says. “Beth and I both really felt if we were going to go to the Hall of Fame at some point, why not go when the first Seattle Mariner was being inducted?”
Debra and Beth booked the trip, even working in an additional stop in Niagara Falls; the adventure did not disappoint. “The whole weekend was a dream and filled with joy,” Debra says. “You are surrounded by others who love baseball as much as you do, so everyone was happy, and I felt very well cared for throughout the weekend.”
One of the trip highlights for Debra was the Parade of Legends Saturday night, featuring numerous Hall of Famers who ride through the streets of Cooperstown. “It was a simple parade, but so emotional to see all those greats up close,” Debra remembers. “All of the Seattle fans that were there made it special, too.”
Plus, being treated like a V.I.P. didn’t hurt either.
“During the weekend, we were able to get in and out of the Hall of Fame through the side door with our Sports Travel and Tours’ ID lanyards,” Debra explains. “That was such a plus, as the lines to get in the front door were so long they were winding down the street, but we just beat the line. Sports Travel and Tours has definitely developed a lot of relationships with various venues and businesses, so you get some perks that you wouldn’t get by traveling with another company.”
Something Debra didn’t expect is that her Sports Travel and Tours travel package would be a gift she gave to herself that would keep on giving even after she returned home.
“Something that I got through Sports Travel and Tours that I didn’t appreciate until after I got home was the membership in the Hall of Fame, which was part of the package,” she says. “It seemed like once a week I was getting something from the Hall of Fame, including the 2016 Hall of Fame yearbook, literature about the Hall of Fame and a limited edition painting.”
Debra says that, having seen how Sports Travel and Tours knowledgably caters to the needs of sports fans, her first trip with the company will certainly not be her last. If Edgar Martínez gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, Debra says, she’ll be off to Cooperstown again in a heartbeat.
“Sports Travel and Tours is the only way to go.”