I met Scott Bultman in the Ballpark Stampeders Facebook group. Scott is not only a Ballpark Nerd, but has also visited every NHL, NBA and NFL venue in North America. Achieving Club 123, the number of professional franchises in the four major professional sports leagues, is a commitment few have made. Thanks Scott for sharing your love of sports and going Nine with the Nerd!
1st Inning – When did you become a baseball fan?
I first became a baseball fan for good at age 7 in 1987 while witnessing one of the better divisional chases during the four team playoff era. That year, the team representing my home state of Michigan, the Detroit Tigers, went neck and neck until the final weekend of the regular season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did the Jays and Tigers have the two best records in the AL East… they also had the two best records in baseball. The Tigers ended up winning 98 games to the Blue Jays 96 and a lifetime baseball fan was born. I wish I could say that the Tigers could’ve had a dream postseason run for me that year but they ended up losing to an 85 win Minnesota Twins team in five games.
Baseball has always been in my blood. Countless hours had been spent collecting baseball cards or playing a strategy game called APBA baseball. Our family would play a round robin all star season with a single year of cards and have a player draft before the regular season. As a result, you could say that I was a stats nerd before Sabermetrics went mainstream.
2nd Inning – What was your first MLB game you attended?
Wow.. two answers to this one. One based off of memories that have been shared with me and one based off of what I can vividly remember.
We had family that lived on the Chesapeake Bay so an Annapolis/Baltimore/Washington D.C. trip was in the cards nearly every summer. In either 1980 or 1981, my parents took me to an Orioles game on a scorching hot summer day in Baltimore. I don’t remember anything about the game since I would’ve been mere months old at that point.
The first game that I remember was an early August game at Tiger Stadium in 1988 between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Detroit Tigers. Ted Higuera pitched a gem that day vs the Tigers for a 6-1 Brewers win. Tiger Stadium was an amazing place to watch a baseball game due to the proximity of your seats to the playing surface. Stadiums built in the first half of the 20th century were built around the contours of their neighborhood footprint and Tiger Stadium was no exception. The first few rows of the upper deck were closer to the field than the lower deck was. This made for a lot of cheap upper deck home runs.
3rd Inning – Total MLB games attended?
This is a hard number to pin down due to not keeping track of stats for the longest time. I have every ticket stub to every game attended since 1992. I am guessing at about a game a year for the first twelve years of my life before that. Some years, we may have seen two games and some years, none. I never really went to many games a year until I moved to Indianapolis the first time around in 2009. The Reds stadium is 100 miles from my residence so I went to weekend games there a lot.
It wasn’t until a 2013 move to Minneapolis that got me seeing massive amounts of games a year. In 2013, I made it a goal to see a half season of games. I saw 65 Twins games that year and 17 at various other parks. 85 in 2014 with time split between Minnesota and Denver (work related move).
In 2015, I saw 143 regular season games with Rockies season tickets and all 30 parks that year. I slowed down in September that year after seeing 137 by August 31st that year. I was able to see three in one day late in September. How does this happen you say? Two DH’s that day… one in Baltimore and one in Philly. We saw the 12:10 game in Baltimore then raced over to Philadelphia for a 4:40pm start for their single admission doubleheader. Full disclosure: we left the Orioles game after 7 to make sure that we were in our seats in Philadelphia for the national anthem. In 2016, I saw 62 regular season MLB games and did 38 last year.
4th Inning – Who is your favorite team? What made you a fan?
My favorite baseball team is the Chicago White Sox. I started out liking the Tigers because they were the in state team but switched to the Sox at age 11 in 1991. A big part of that was due to their rising star, Frank Thomas. Being a huge baseball card collector at the time and stats geek… I couldn’t help but notice that this player shared the same birthdate as me. The Sox were starting to get good again for a short time in the early 90’s and they were close enough to catch a game in person. I’ve been a fan ever since through good times such as 2005 and the bad times which happen way more often.
5th Inning – What ballparks have you visited?
I have been to all 30 current MLB ballparks and 40 overall. As I get older, I am getting into some of the minor league parks as well. I was on the visit all 30 MLB train for quite some time earlier this decade and finished it on May 25th, 2013 in Arizona. It was an exhilarating feeling to finish the MLB parks. Looking at a U.S. map and knowing that all that ground was covered was awesome.
In 2015, I took a summer sabbatical to visit all 30 MLB ballparks that year as well as 143 regular season MLB games. What a thrill ride that summer was and it all started with five spring training games the week prior to the opener in Phoenix. It was nice to getaway to Phoenix and enjoy five parks in a three day whirlwind.
My path to see all 30 parks in 2015 was an easy going one. Since it was a spring/summer sabbatical, I wanted to maximize enjoyment (aka… not rush). Scheduling was tough to do around my already paid for Colorado Rockies tickets. There was also the dynamic of trying to see as many games as possible as well as seeing different venues when the Rockies weren’t playing at home. The final path was all 30 in an easy going 107 days. Started at Wrigley Field that year in the first and only game on opening day that year in front of a half torn apart Wrigley Bleacher outfield seating area. Finished late July in Baltimore.
6th Inning – Aside from baseball, what other sports venues have you visited?
Earlier this season, I gained entry into Club 123 which is a game attended at every current NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL stadium. This has also been something that started this decade. I didn’t really start pushing it until after the MLB venues were finished in 2013. After the 2013 MLB season was done, I was kind of sad until I discovered how many other venues I could see. The Twin Cities has sports all year long so I got into sports game planning. Minnesota Timberwolves games were cheap so I saw a ton of those as well. My brief time in Denver was good for sports visits as well. A good day well spent downtown would be a Rockies day game and a Nuggets/Avalanche/Broncos game at night.
When I moved back to Indianapolis late 2015, I was in the mid 60’s as far as current Club 123 venues. I started making a concerted effort to finish it off. There had been some Midwestern ones to get as well as others within an eight hour drive.
Seeing the Braves new place put me back at 98 of the current 123 venues needed for Club 123 after the summer of 2017. 25 to go after attrition with places coming and going. Detroit, Atlanta, a new team in Vegas, etc. I decided to finish over the fall and winter seasons this past year.
7th Inning – How were you able to finish?
To finish over the winter months meant finishing the twelve NFL venues needed first. NFL games are tough due to only being played a few days a week. I had hoped for some funky Thursday/Saturday/Sunday or Sunday/Monday combos but the scheduling gods did not work in my favor last year. I ended up seeing the last twelve NFL venues needed over fifteen Sundays. Over those NFL weekends, I was also hoping to pick up some NHL and NBA venues needed as well.
It started with the LA Rams opening weekend and over the next five weekends I saw games in Tampa, New York (Jets), Dallas, Miami, and Atlanta. Miami was the scariest of the six because I had a 6 a.m. flight out of Chicago which would’ve landed at 10 a.m. However, I chose a smaller airline when booking that flight and I nearly got burned by a member of their crew calling in sick. Due to that airline not having a big presence at the airport, they had a hard time filling that spot. My plane ended up leaving two hours late and landing in Miami at 11:45. Luckily, I was able to make the game with time to spare.
Week 8 was accidental as I was in Boston thanks to a dirt cheap round trip flight to Boston for the Bruins. The Patriots tickets were out of my price range as were the extra day in Boston and the flight home. Prices dropped quickly a day before and the whole “your there anyway” mentality kicked in.
The following weekend in Seattle was my eighth of twelve needed and probably my favorite weekend of the 2017 NFL run. It got started with a drive from Seattle to Vancouver and some exploring along the way. Saturday, we got the royal treatment around Vancouver thanks to some research and new friends made. That night, we met up with some hardcore sports travelers and got a hookup for some 15th row center ice tickets. The following day, we made it to Seattle in freezing rainy conditions. On the usual concourse walk-around… I noticed a season ticket stub on the ground which was awesome since I had mobile tix to the game. Much to my surprise… the stub on the ground was a sky club stub which meant club level heated indoor access. And besides the perks.. there were free snacks and free coffee. Score! After the first quarter, I was going to pass the stub to my friend so he could enjoy the club level perks. During the hand off, a couple of season ticket holders asked us if we wanted their seats since they were leaving due to the weather. They ended up being a few rows off the field in the end zone. What a weekend that was. After a couple of weeks off, I finished with Philadelphia, New Orleans, LA Chargers, and Jacksonville.
At the turn of the calendar year, I had eight NBA and NHL venues to go. After seeing the Celtics at the Garden in January, I finished my last five NHL needed in February. My last two venues needed were done on an extended weekend in New Orleans for the Pelicans and finished up in Oklahoma City. After e-mailing OKC (like I did for a few other teams), they did a story on me and put it up on the nba.com website.
I literally used up all of my vacation time until this upcoming November but it was well worth it.
8th Inning – What are you plans for 2018?
My plans for 2018 are seeing more minor league ballparks and also meeting up with Ballpark Stampeders along the way at major and minor league games. I plan on seeing as many Indianapolis Indians games as possible since I live nearby. Road trips will include some major/minor league weekends. I like scouring master schedules for possible same day doubleheaders. Multi city or state same day DH’s are great.
9th Inning – What is your favorite ballpark memory?
I don’t have a single favorite ballpark memory that I can think of. More than anything, my favorite ballpark memories are the ones spent with friends or family. I like how connected people can be nowadays with social media. There have been times where people post at a game and I’m like “I’m there too!”
The results on the field for the most part blend together but the memories are what makes each game unique!