Happening Now

Strangers Meet Through Baseball and Trains

May 15, 2018

Baseball and Passenger Rail Expanded the U.S. in the 20th Century

For Immediate Release (18-31)

Contact: Xenophon Strategies - (202) 289-4001

Washington, D.C. - What do the Savannah Bananas small-town baseball team and Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” train have in common? They both connect Americans to each other.

“Summer by Rail” (www.summerbyrail.com) correspondent Jacob Wallace is a Texas Rangers fan who understands the communities that form around ballparks. As a student focused on transportation, Jacob knows that transit can do the same. This summer, Wallace will show how baseball and passenger rail are linked as he travels the country by rail, visiting dozens of baseball stadiums, meeting people, and writing about his experiences.

“The history of baseball and railroad are integral aspects of this country. Baseball, like trains, expanded with the country. Baseball, like trains, provides us with a link to 20th century growth, optimism, and communitarian philosophy because it brings us together to celebrate our teams,” Wallace wrote in a blog post for his “Summer by Rail” trip that will take nearly 40 days to go from Miami to Seattle. “We need baseball in a similar way that we need trains - an afternoon or evening at the ballpark provides us with a place to connect and commune with people that we might not otherwise share a connection with. Trains, meanwhile, provide us with a physical connection to places that we might not otherwise share a connection with. It's that ability to connect that made the two so interesting to me in the first place.”

As part of “Summer by Rail,” which launches May 26 in Miami, Wallace will attend 19 different games between teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), Minor League Baseball (MiLB), and independent leagues. At the heart of the trip, Wallace will explore the connectivity between North America’s transportation infrastructure and one of its favorite pastimes. Wallace will use intercity rail and other forms of public transit like bike-share and ride-share services to go from game to game and town to town.

The trip will conclude July 3 at a Seattle Mariners’ home game, but along the way Wallace will travel to Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee to see the Nationals, Tigers, White Sox, Cubs and Brewers, among other MLB teams. Wallace will also visit eclectic minor league teams like the Savannah Bananas, Durham Bulls, Chicago Dogs, and Vancouver Canadians. And, he will ride on some of the most iconic train routes in America, including the brand new “Brightline” route in south Florida, as well as Amtrak’s Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Carolinian, Cardinal, Hoosier State, Wolverine, and Empire Builder routes.

“I love baseball, I love hot dogs, I love warm summer nights. If I didn't enjoy the heck out of baseball, there's no way I'd be bringing myself to 19 games in six weeks. Besides all the other reasons, baseball and trains mix because they're just so quintessentially American, right up there with apple pie,” Wallace, who is a rising journalism senior at American University in Washington, D.C. said in his blog post.

“I’m also excited to see the country by train,” Wallace said. “Meeting riders and seeing the countryside will be an interesting perspective on how trains connect the different parts of our country to each other.”

Along with this blog post, Wallace will share regular updates on his trip about what games he is attending, what public transit services he is utilizing, and profiles of other riders’ views on using public transit to commute to and from ball games.

New blog posts can be found online at www.summerbyrail.com, or on Instagram and Twitter using the handle @RailPassengers.

About the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.