Oct 22, 2011 Alex’s Baseball Across America
by Sonja J. Keith
It was a true baseball fan’s vacation of a lifetime – a trip that included every ballpark in Major League Baseball and some other interesting stops along the way.
Before joining his father’s medical practice this fall, Conway resident Dr. Alex Freeman set out on a unique, three-month vacation.
A baseball fan since he was a young boy, Alex remembers going to his first game when he was 6. “It was with my dad and grandfather in St. Louis,” he said, explaining that he was “raised” on baseball. “If you’re born into this family, you’re pretty much stuck with baseball and St. Louis.”
On July 2, Alex began his baseball trip, headed to the first ball stop – Minute Maid Park in Houston. The trip ended at his “baseball home” at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
During the trip, Alex kept a blog complete with photos and information (and his own rankings) on each ballpark, including the atmosphere, the crowd, the scorecard, the broadcasters, the hot dogs and the entertainment. (Visit 1stlfan.blogspot.com)
Alex came up with the idea for the trip a couple years ago. “I don’t know what gave me the actual idea, though. I started moonlighting after my first year of residency and finally had some money I could stash away for something like this, so that’s what I did.”
The real planning began in February. “I did some skeleton planning over a couple years, just playing with the budget and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I started with the dates of the All-Star Game in Phoenix and the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn., and worked around that.”
During the trip, Alex has also checked out other points of interest including several national parks. The list included Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, and Cooperstown. “The trip will consist of more than just baseball. There are just too many places along the way to just pass them by.”
Of all the stops, Alex enjoyed most “the Little League World Series . . . hands down.” Having played in Little League when his family lived in Pine Bluff, Alex’s new goal is to bring it to Conway. “My mom says it was the best four years of our lives,”
During his trip, Alex also enjoyed and was somewhat surprised by the many people he met along the way. “I’ve probably known this for some time but just am realizing it more. You can learn a lot about someone after just a few minutes of conversation. There was Bill in Yosemite, an older gentleman who has been a paraplegic most of his life who wanted to know all about the Half Dome Hike. I ended up finding a tire guy in Napa through him.
“There was a guy in the stands at the Little League World Series. He was from San Angelo, Texas, and his team was two wins away from making it to the LLWS in 1960. They’d actually just held a 50th anniversary celebration last year. And, to top that one off, he had to take a picture of his hot dog to send to his son . . . if you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen my hot dog coverage.
“I also met a retired couple at a bed and breakfast. We ended up spending three days together, and I now essentially have an open invitation to stay in Phoenix and watch baseball.”
During the trip, Alex had time to think about beginning his medical career with his dad, Dr. William Freeman. His mom, Freda, also works at the Freeman clinic. “I think it will be fun,” Alex said. “We get along really well.”
Alex’s interest in the medical field was sparked at Conway High School. “I’m sure there was some glimmer before that, and I’m sure Dad played a big role,” he said, explaining that his parents encouraged him to pursue a career that made him happy, with no pressure to pursue medicine.
A 2001 graduate of Hendrix College, Alex attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. His residency was at Sparks Hospital in Fort Smith. In his fourth year of medical school, Alex decided to go into family medicine. “You get to do everything. You can see kids; you get to do regular medicine.”
Alex said he is looking forward to seeing his first patients and developing relationships with them. He’s also happy to be back in Conway. His goals are simple – “To take care of people and do what we’re suppose to do.”
Of course, Alex also spent time on his trip giving some thought to his next great adventure. Interestingly, it involves baseball.
“The ballparks all have their unique features that make them different. What I want to do in the future is pick out a place or two to go back to for a series each year. Somewhere different each time and at a time when that particular team is doing well. Big, rowdy crowds make it a lot more fun, and those seem to have been the places I enjoyed the most.”