Because of their Chicago roots, Alan and Sharon Baranowski of Elburn, Illinois, have always been diehard Cubs fans. They’ve attended games since they were both children, alongside fathers who passed on their love of Wrigley Field and the Cubs.
Sharon even started keeping her own scorecards for every Cubs game she attended. She later began keeping tabs on every game she watched live—Cubs or not—and she has accumulated an impressive collection over an amazing 50-year period.
“She tracks errors, runs, that kind of thing,” Alan says. “She loves to keep score, follow the game, and she’ll make game notes if something interesting happens. It’s fun to go back and look at them and refresh our memories of what happened during the season.”
The Baranowskis are longtime participants of Sports Travel and Tours, having discovered us back in 2002 after seeing our ad in Baseball America. Alan clearly remembers their first trip, which featured stops at stadiums in Baltimore, Boston and New York. In the 13 years since, the two have traveled extensively with us, even journeying across the world to Australia with us in 2014 for the start of the Major League Baseball season. In 2009, they were inducted into our Stadium Hall of Fame for visiting all 30 stadiums.
One of Alan and Sharon’s favorite trips is the Windy City Plus trip, which they have enjoyed multiple times. Having both grown up in the Chicago suburbs themselves, the couple enjoy getting back to their roots.
This year, the Windy City Plus trip is scheduled from Friday, Aug. 7 to Wednesday, Aug. 12 and will feature stops in Milwaukee, St. Louis and of course Chicago. Travelers will experience four games at four different ballparks: Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Miller Park and Busch Stadium.
Because they are only 50 miles outside Chicago, the Baranowskis travel to the city by commuter train for the Windy City trips, and they meet up with the rest of the Sports Travel and Tours group. “For us, traveling with everyone on the Windy City Plus trip is like a week away from home, without really leaving home,” Alan says.
Although Alan and Sharon haven’t gone on the Windy City Plus trip in three or four years, they remember how much they enjoyed getting to see the historic Wrigley Field. The couple have held season tickets to see the Cubs for an amazing 31 years, and in that time, they’ve been able to witness many impressive changes to Wrigley.
They say every baseball fan should make the trip to see the improvements firsthand.
“Even if you’ve seen the field before, you need to come back to see the renovations and how things have changed, such as the addition of a new electronic score board and expanded bleachers,” he says.
Alan stresses that the best reason to take a Sports Travel and Tours trip is the camaraderie. They appreciate the many friends they’ve made over the years.
“Having gone to all 30 stadiums with the help of Sports Travel and Tours, we have such a deep group of friends that are mostly Hall of Famers or soon to be Hall of Famers themselves,” Alan says. “We just love to talk baseball with them, and we even connect during the off-season via email or phone calls. We’ve made a community of friends and family.
“So if you love baseball, Sports Travel and Tours is really a great group to be with,” Alan adds. “We all have a love for the sport that draws us together, even though we’re fans of different teams.”
Learn more about the Windy City Plus trip.