One of the great parts of what I do for Ballpark E-Guides is meeting sports fans from across the country; some of whom have a dedication to sports travel that I can’t even imagine. Gary Herman tops them all.
Gary Herman, and his buddy Michael “The King” Casiano, have seen close to 20,000 sporting events between them. Yes, 20,000—that’s not a typo. In May, both of them were nominated for the Stadium Journey Hall of Fame. Anyone who travels to see different ballparks, like I do, will probably learn about Gary Herman soon enough. The man is everywhere. And he documents his travels on his excellent “Royalty Tours” blog—from which I have lifted many a tip for Ballpark E-Guides!
I had the pleasure of meeting Gary last year before a Phillies game, and later that year he played a key part in my quest to get into Yankee Stadium on the day of Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. I never have to travel far to meet with him; it’s never long before he’ll be in the Philly area again, to see one of our proud sports teams. And recently he found time to answer some questions for me to share with you about the life of a sports traveler.
You’ve been doing this for many years now. How many sporting events would you say you’ve been to—do you know the exact number?
I've been attending sporting events since 1975 when I was a young lad. I can't give you a 100% accurate total because I don't remember every game I attended when I was very young. 20 years ago I approximated a total I had and I've been adding to it since. With that being said, here are the totals by sport I've seen over the years.
Baseball (4,313 total)
Minor League 376
Football (472 total)
Basketball (1,311 total)
Hockey (1,711 total)
Minor League 139
Do the math and the total comes out to 7,807 and counting.
That is incredible. I know you’re not independently wealthy, and quite a few money-saving tips that I’ve learned from you have shown up in Ballpark E-Guides. What are some of the things you do to cut costs?
In order for me to go to as many live sporting events as I do, I have to always skimp and save whenever possible in order to make it happen. Since I take my passion to the extreme, I've had to incorporate tradeoffs that help offset the costs of doing so.
When I go to a sporting event, I very rarely if ever eat anything at a ballpark and/or arena. I rather stop off somewhere on my way so I can eat within my budget. If I spend money at the game, I'll go broke. In other words, I would have to attend fewer games.
When I drive, I try to minimize all the added costs such as parking and tolls. Most places you can find alternate parking options for less or sometimes even free which helps defray cost. As for tolls, I know many alternate routes which I've incorporated into my planning of a road trip that helps me cut cost along the way.
Furthermore, I've been able to meet people who share a similar interest. When we join forces we're able to cut cost so it can be affordable for all of us. Teamwork makes the dream work as I like to say.
What is your favorite venue, and why?
My favorite venue is Wrigley Field in Chicago. On August 10, 1988 I went there for the first time and I fell in love. I've been there at least once every year since. I'm up to 77 games there now.
Wrigley Field is such a unique setting to see a live sporting event. It's located right in the middle of a neighborhood, that's now affectionately called Wrigleyville, on the North side of Chicago. It was the last ballpark to have lights. The first night game was scheduled for August 8th of that year—they started the game but after playing a few innings it was rained out. The next night became the first official night game instead.
Wrigley still has no diamond vision. This past season they added an auxiliary type video scoreboard that shows pitch counts and other stats on it, but it still has the big manual scoreboard out in center field beyond the bleachers. Across the street, people own houses. They use their roof tops for fans to see games. That adds to this unique experience. Furthermore, there are numerous bars in the neighborhood that people like to hang out at when they go there.
Wrigley is also known for its bricks and ivy. In 2014, it will be 100 years old. Thanks to its rock solid foundation it's still standing, I hope for many more years to come. It's such a plain and simple way to watch a baseball game.
How do you put together your schedule?
As for making my schedule, I take different things into account. First and foremost, I do work a full time job so I have to work around that. I do have weekends off so I'm able to go away a lot depending on how the different schedules work out by sport.
Over the years, I've rooted for the Mets and the Jets. I've planned and seen them play at home and on the road as often as possible. As time goes on, I hope to see them play everywhere within my reach. If I can't see my so called team play, I go anyway to see other teams play.
I do what the schedule allows me to do. These days television dictates when games will start. Like anything else in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages. During the baseball season, ESPN shows Sunday night games, which sometimes allows me to see an extra baseball game or two along the way.
As for football, they've added more games on Thursday nights which gives me more options to consider when I make my schedule. The bottom line is I do what I can afford within reason. By planning ahead, I have a better chance of getting better deals.
Do you ever grow weary of the travel and other things? Do you sometimes wish you were home vegging out in front of a TV?
I love to travel but I'm a human being and I would be lying to you if I said it doesn't take its toll on my body. Since I work full time and I run around a lot after work, my body needs some relaxation once in a while. I usually have a night off or two built into my schedule each week. Sometimes I don't which really knocks me out. I need to be well rested so I can enjoy myself while I'm away. I try my best to get enough sleep especially when I rent a car for a weekend to go somewhere.
On the other hand, it's nice to be home once in a while so I can see a game on TV. Let it be known, it's really hard to watch and listen to the announcers. I rather be there instead.
I try my best to balance out my schedule so I can handle the wear and tear that my body is enduring when I'm on the go.
What is your ultimate goal, something you hope to achieve? What you’ve done is already amazing and remarkable.
My ultimate goal these days is to continue to follow my schedule and to maintain my lifestyle. In the process, I hope to continue to meet and greet fellow sports travelers like yourself.
In February 2010, I started my blog, Royalty Tours USA, and it has opened so many doorways for me. As a result, I've been in contact with a number of people from all over the country and other parts of the world who share a similar interest to mine, sports travel.
I've been to so many places over the years. Going forward, I want to give back to those who want to follow in my footsteps. I always meet different people who want to realize their dream thanks to all the different social media outlets we have at our disposal these days. I always offer my assistance to them. Some of them read and follow my blog which makes me feel influential in their lives. Making a difference is what life is all about.
Thanks for answering my questions, Gary!Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with you.
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