When baseball fans sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” two Catholic priests have taken the spirit of the old Tin Pan Alley tune to a new level.
Childhood friends, Father Linus Klucsarits of Cullman and Father Michael Skrocki of Danbury, Connecticut, just completed an eight-year journey of visiting every Major League Baseball park — all 30, with a stop in San Diego’s PETCO Field Monday.
“We grew up together and went to high school in Allentown, Pennsylvania. We both love baseball, and one time when we were visiting each other we discussed this and agreed to try to visit each ballpark,” Father Linus, who is headmaster at St, Bernard Preparatory School, said.
Through the eight years, the experiences of seeing their favorite players and admiring the architecture and amenities of the stadiums have been equally fascinating.
The historic stadiums, Wriggly Field, where the Chicago Cubs play, and the Boston Red Sox home field at Fenway Park, are great throw-backs to an older era, Father Linus said.
But his favorite experience?
“Busch Stadium in St. Louis,” Father Linus said. “The park is great, but also it’s the fans. They love baseball and know the history of the game and their team well.”
Along the way, the friends have watched games at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Suntrust Park in Atlanta, and the home of the mighty New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium.
For the Father Linus, he saw games in the original Yankee Stadium, as well, and said the new version captures much of the feel of the old “House that Ruth built.”
But how did that trip to San Diego work out, being the final stop?
For the record, whether the presence of two priests had any bearing or not, the San Diego Padres won the game, 8-2, and All Star player Manny Machado cracked a grand slam home run to deep right field.
“That was a great experience in San Diego. Everyone was very nice. Father Michael wrote to the team before we arrived and told them what we were doing,” Father Linus said. “We ended up with Padres jerseys with our names and some great seats behind home plate.”
Aside from the love of baseball, Father Linus said touring the ballparks is a great way to see a large part of the United States.
“That’s one thing that his been fun, visiting 30 cities and seeing so much of the country and its people through baseball,” Father Linus said. “I’ll be taking a group to Atlanta for a July 4 game, which is always a lot of fun. I think baseball is still the great American game.”
David Palmer may be contacted at 256-734-2131, ext. 116.