Jim Dries has a unique perspective on Sports Travel and Tours because he sees us from so many vantage points.
Jim—whose German last name is pronounced “Drees”—is not only a traveler and a 2009 inductee into our Sports Travel and Tours Stadium Hall of Fame, he is also a longtime tour host.
Most of the year, Jim lives in Sequim, Washington, but he also spends time with his wife, Carol Dries Swarbrick, at their home in Maitland, Florida, where their daughter and youngest grandchildren live.
Jim first got connected to Sports Travel and Tours about 20 years ago, before he had retired from his teaching job and had only summers off. He and a fellow teacher enjoyed traveling around with us to see the different ballparks.
“When Sports Travel and Tours was expanding one year, founder Jay Smith was looking for other people to be tour hosts, and he asked my colleague if he’d recommend anybody, and he recommended me,” Jim says. “I’d been doing so much sports travel at that point that they wanted me.”
After shadowing other hosts on his first few trips as a leader, Jim oversaw his first trip—which he thinks took him to Chicago and Milwaukee.
This year, Jim will lead our Central Express trip, a 10-day trek that begins on Wednesday, August 8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and ends on Friday, August 17, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A trip reception will be held at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center on the first evening, and day two begins with a visit to Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. In the afternoon, watch the Milwaukee Brewers play the San Diego Padres at Miller Park.
On day three, travelers will head off to Guaranteed Rate Field to watch the Chicago White Sox take on the Cleveland Indians. And on day four, the Chicago Cubs will come against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field, following a morning spent exploring Wrigleyville, one of Chicago’s most unique neighborhoods.
The Cubs and Nationals play again on day five, and on day six, following a visit to the St. Louis Ballpark Village, a dining and entertainment district situated across from Busch Stadium, our travelers will watch the St. Louis Cardinals play the Nationals.
Visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, on day seven, before watching the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals at the Royals official home, Kauffman Stadium. Day eight features a minor league game between the Iowa Cubs and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox at Principal Park, and a game between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers at Target Field follows on day nine.
Connecting with each traveler is one mark that Jim thinks sets him apart.
“I try to get to know each person individually and really make them feel that they are a unique part of the trip and get to know their strengths,” Jim says. “When people are together as a family, I let them do their thing. If somebody’s alone, I try to be a companion and help them get worked into the group so they feel a part of things.”
Jim also likes to weave stories—his, and those of travelers—into the trips. While on the bus, Jim lets people share their baseball memories, and he’s made many interesting connections this way. “I’ve had retired players on a trip, and nobody knew they were former players until they spoke,” he said. “One time I had a pitcher who, before there was interleague play, had not been to a lot of the American League parks. He wanted to come on a trip to see them himself.”
Jim is especially proud to be a Sports Travel and Tours Stadium Hall of Famer. Baseball was not too far down on the list of priorities after religion in his family, so, to have been able to travel to all the Major League Baseball parks and get recognized for that at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum “put frosting on the cake” for him.
“It was so important to me,” he says. “And it was important to my family as well.”
Learn more about Central Express, and consider joining Jim and our travelers!