For the Laughlin family, a love of baseball has become a family tradition. Dave Laughlin taught his son Jeff how to play the game and coached him on his little league team. Now, Jeff does the same for his two sons, 6-year-old Andy and 9-year-old Adam.
Because baseball has been an integral part of the Laughlin family’s life for decades, serving to connect fathers and sons, it seemed only fitting that the sport bring the family together once again to celebrate Dave’s 70th birthday.
“We were looking to do something special for my dad, but he’s hard to buy for,” Jeff says. “My wife, Molly, had been toying with the idea of planning a trip for him, and I remembered how when I was younger, I had said, ‘Dad is a lifetime Mickey Mantle fan, so maybe someday we should go to a Yankees game and see the Hall of Fame.’ We just never got around to it.”
An idea sparked, Molly began scouring the Internet for tickets to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Although Dave’s birthday was in January, the family decided July would be a great time for the trip so everyone could witness the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
In her online searching, Molly found Sports Travel and Tours, which offered three different baseball trips this year that converged on Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Induction Plus, Boston Induction Extravaganza and Boston Induction Special. Although the trips were all unique, each included tickets to at least one baseball game and a stadium tour in addition to the feature event.
The Laughlin family surprised Dave with the trip idea on his actual birthday by way of a framed poem, which Molly had written. “It’s more than just the game,” the poem reads. “It’s the memories we’ve had on the field and in the stands.”
By the time Dave reached the end of the poem—which encapsulates what baseball means to the family and finishes with the details of the trip—Dave was so touched by the gesture, he was struggling to get the words out. And that was just the start of the family’s memorable journey.
Coming from Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas, the whole family wore Kansas City Royals gear throughout the weekend, representing their home and the sport they love. During the parade, their attire attracted the attention of George Brett, a Kansas City Hall of Famer. “He gave us a huge wave and thumbs up,” Jeff says.
The trip marked the Laughlin’s first time traveling with Sports Travel and Tours, and they all had only positive feedback about the experience. “The tour guides were great and transportation was good too,” Jeff says. “Taking the bus was so much easier than trying to find parking, and it gave us all day to experience the events. The tour really allowed us to see as much as possible, that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
Jeff also says Sports Travel and Tours made the trip much easier and more time-efficient than he had imagined. “We didn’t have to stand in line to get inside the Hall of Fame; we were able to get into the museum easily without waiting,” Jeff says. “We also got to take advantage of having reserved seats for the induction ceremony.”
Jeff, and Dave especially, enjoyed the Parade of Legends.
“The parade was my favorite part because it brought back a lot of my childhood,” Dave says. “I related to Jeff and my grandkids who all the ballplayers were, and we even saw Sandy Koufax, the greatest left-hand pitcher, and Hank Aaron. It was fun to see people with special talents like theirs be recognized.”
“My dad was like a little kid watching these old timers come down the road,” Jeff remarks. “He was taking pictures and telling us the players’ stats. Even though he can’t remember where his key are a lot of the time, he can remember a player’s batting average from 1952. He was more excited during the parade than the kids were.”
After the trip, Jeff remarked that he might go back to Cooperstown in the future to see some of his favorite players be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I would consider going to see Ken Griffey Jr. or Derek Jeter be inducted,” Jeff says. “That would be fun. But this trip, it wasn’t about who was being inducted. It was about the trip itself. It was about my dad.”
Learn about registering for future Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.