By organizing and leading baseball trips, Simply A Fan provides baseball fans the opportunity to travel to ballparks around the country, enjoying the company, camaraderie and fellowship of friends and strangers alike. The vision is that Simply A Fan will provide a platform to baseball fans who I meet along the way a chance to share their baseball story and how they came to fall in love with the game. Although I will occasionally write about my own adventures, it is their story that I want to find and it is their story that I want to tell.
“Where bucket list trips become reality and stories from the stands come to life.”
March 2017, Crieve Hall Cubs. Mark and his boys after their first game of the season with Crieve Hall Baseball (Nashville, TN).
It was October 1986 and I was 9 years old. By this point of my youth, I had played a couple years of tee-ball in my small town of Lewisburg, Tennessee. A few weeks earlier I had bought my first pack of baseball cards – ‘86 Sportflics, the triple action magic motion cards that looked new age. Other than those overpriced cards (fifty cents/pack) and playing a lot of rightfield with the dandelions, I really had no connection with the game of baseball up to this point in my life. Then one night, I walked through our living room about bedtime and saw a baseball game on our television. I’ve never really known why the game was on our tv set that fateful fall night as my parents were not baseball fans, neither was my older sister or brother. Most likely it was on because we only had three channels available to us at the time. Whatever the reason, I found myself intrigued that night and stopped to watch the Red Sox and Mets play a few innings, then I continued to be mesmerized night after night as I kept getting to stay up late past my bedtime for this thing called the World Series.
May 2015, Dodger Stadium. Mark with his daughter Brooklyn at Dodger Stadium.
Just as surely as the ball rolled through Buckner’s legs in Game 6, the game of baseball has been part of every season of my life since that fall classic. Over the past thirty plus years, I have played some baseball as a kid, was taken to dozens of games by my parents growing up, have coached my own boys in recent years, met a few baseball legends, obtained a few bobbleheads and checked several ballparks off my bucket list along the way.
Today at 40 years old, I live in Nashville with my amazingly beautiful wife Beth and our three kids. A few years after that ‘86 World Series, my favorite team loyalty followed my favorite player allegiance, Darryl Strawberry, as he left the Mets for the Dodgers as a free agent (5 years / $20 million) to play for his hometown team. Even though I have lived my entire life in Tennessee, I have been bleedin’ Dodger blue ever since that ‘91 season.
May 2017, Rutledge Falls (TN). Mark, Beth and the kids enjoy chasing waterfalls throughout Tennessee each summer. Rutledge Falls, outside of Tullahoma (TN), is a family favorite.
My enthusiasm and passion for the game of baseball seems to continue to grow with each passing season of life. Whether it’s studying and appreciating the history of the game (then naming our daughter Brooklyn) or whether it’s my recent quest to meet as many of the living Brooklyn Dodgers as possible before it’s too late (5 down, 16 to go) – I enjoy both the game of baseball and the power of storytelling. Combining those two passions has led me to launching Simply A Fan, where I want to help others check trips off their baseball bucket list, while also sharing stories from the stands of people who I meet along the way.