NEW YORK, N.Y., May 3, 2018 -- Ben Hill (a.k.a. Ben's Biz) kicks off his ninth season of Minor League ballpark travel on Friday. By the end of the season, Hill -- a writer for MiLB.com, the official website of Minor League Baseball -- will have paid a visit to all 159 affiliated ballparks.
Hill's 2018 itinerary includes 25 stadiums, broken up into five trips (see his full itinerary below). It begins with a visit to the Delmarva Shorebirds on May 4th and wraps up with a September trip to see both the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and Grand Junction Rockies. Those latter two teams, along with the Florida Fire Frogs and Augusta GreenJackets, represent the four active affiliated ballparks that Hill has yet to visit. Hill began embarking on Minor League ballpark road trips in 2010, with the simple goal of highlighting what it is that makes each team unique. His travels are documented via "Road Trip" articles on MiLB.com, posts on Ben's Biz Blog and social media (follow him on Twitter @bensbiz). He has made over 200 ballparks visits in all, including repeat visits and stadiums that are now defunct.
"Every Minor League Baseball team is a reflection of the community in which it operates," said Hill. "Taken as a whole, Minor League Baseball is a reflection of America. So what better way to explore America than through Minor League Baseball?"
Hill's writing actively embraces the creativity that is inherent to Minor League Baseball. Just last season he rode the Lazy River at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas; documented a solar eclipse delay in Columbia, South Carolina; profiled a 67-year-old mascot in Reading, Pennsylvania; and put together an oral history of the Wilmington (Delaware) Blue Rocks' mysterious Mr. Celery. His travels inspired a 15-card insert in TOPPS' 2017 Pro Debut set; 10 additional "Ben's Biz" cards will appear in the 2018 set, which has yet to be released.
In 2018, Hill's travels will have a philanthropic element. He has teamed up with Vs. Cancer, an organization dedicated to helping kids with cancer, and is currently soliciting donations based on the number of ballparks he plans on visiting this season. Many of the teams he is visiting will contribute to the cause as well, via souvenir auctions and other creative fundraising mechanisms.
Food is an integral aspect of the Minor League Baseball fan experience. Hill's coverage has a unique twist, as in 2012 he was diagnosed with celiac disease. He therefore recruits a "Designated Eater" at each ballpark he visits, and this individual is tasked with eating the ballpark cuisine that Hill's gluten-free diet prohibits. Over the years dozens of Designated Eaters have consumed 100s of ballpark delicacies, from oysters in Biloxi, Mississippi to hot chicken in Nashville, Tennessee, to lobster rolls in Portland, Maine.
Hill is available to speak to all interested media about his ballpark travels as well as all aspects of the
Minor League Baseball fan experience.
Ben Hill's 2018 road trip itinerary
5/4: Delmarva Shorebirds
5/5: Bowie Baysox
5/10: Harrisburg Senators
5/11: Lakewood BlueClaws
5/12: Lehigh Valley IronPigs
5/18: Trenton Thunder
6/14: Lake County Captains
6/15: Mahoning Valley Scrappers
6/16: Toledo Mud Hens
6/17: Fort Wayne TinCaps
6/19: Midwest League All-Star Game, hosted by the Lansing Lugnuts
7/13: Florida Fire Frogs
7/14: Daytona Tortugas
7/15: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
7/16-17: Augusta GreenJackets
7/18: Charlotte Knights
7/19: Asheville Tourists
7/20: Johnson City Cardinals
8/8: Brooklyn Cyclones
8/10: Staten Island Yankees
8/19: Little League Classic at Williamsport's Bowman Field
8/20: State College Spikes
8/24: Aberdeen IronBirds
9/2-3: Colorado Springs Sky Sox
9/4: Grand Junction Rockies
The MiLB.com network of websites consists of MiLB.com, 14 domestic MiLB League sites and 159 MiLB club sites across the United States and Canada. Attracting millions of baseball fans on a monthly basis, MiLB.com has integrated an array of features since its initial launch in April 2005, highlighted by live full-game video streaming for 93 clubs as part of the MiLB.TV package, the First Pitch app for iOS and Android devices, on-demand video highlights, up-to-the-moment scoreboards and statistics as well as comprehensive editorial coverage highlighting the game's top prospects, team promotions, breaking news and more.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.