For many of us, it wouldn’t be summer without a few casual evenings spent at Spring Mobile Ballpark, laughing with friends, eating hotdogs and thrilling at the crack of bat to ball as we celebrate the American pastime.
The same holds true in cities — and small towns — across America. We love professional baseball and the seeming miracles that emerge from it. How could we not cheer on Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who after a brief stint last spring with the Salt Lake Bees, will start in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game, just four years after beginning his career in the Rookie League in Tempe, Ariz.?
Dream-come-true stories such as Trout’s are irresistible, regardless of where you live.
Columnist Kurt Kragthorpe confirmed as much in the past two weeks as he traveled the country, attending a game in each of the seven cities with teams that make up the Angels system. Salt Lake City and Orem are among those locales, but he also visited North Little Rock, Ark.; Burlington, Iowa; Tempe; and San Bernardino and Anaheim, Calif.
His “Seven Levels of Angels” series, which debuts today in Sports and continues each day through July 21, depicts just how unlikely it is that a player who started this summer with the Orem Owlz will ever make it to the Salt Lake Bees, let alone the Angels.
Yet it also reveals the commitment and dedication that enable minor league teams at every level to find niches in the communities in which they operate and thrive.
Kragthorpe’s road trip at one point put him on a Greyhound bus from North Little Rock to Burlington; there’s no easy way to travel the 550 miles between the two.
He helped stadium operations interns pick up trash after an Arkansas Travelers game before spending the night in the apartment the interns share adjacent to right field of North Little Rock’s Dickey-Stephens Park.
When Kragthorpe finally made it to Angels Stadium in Anaheim last weekend, he found himself standing in the dugout “feeling as if I had made it to the big leagues myself, after having made all these stops in the minors,” he said.
His journey is worth following. I think you’ll find Kragthorpe’s “Seven Levels” series as irresistible as the teams he writes about.
They’re stories that may just get you to a Bees or an Owlz game if you haven’t already been to one this summer.
Lisa Carricaburu is a managing editor. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter: @lcarricaburu.
P Kurt Kragthorpe is a sports columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Read today’s column in the Sports section. > C1