While listening to a podcast last week, I heard a very interesting interview with one of the creators of a very inspiring awareness campaign called Biking For Baseball. Chase Higgins was the name and cycling mixed with some baseball and youth mentoring has been the game for himself, Steve Lunn, Rex Roberts, and Adam Kremers. Starting with the kickoff of the 2012 MLB season, these four started out on a 11,000 mile cycling adventure across the country to visit all 30 MLB stadiums in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of youth mentoring across the country. Along with visiting every park for a game, Biking For Baseball also hosts a youth baseball event in every city they stop. All in all, the guys with B4B are doing an unbelievable job in spreading the word about a great cause.
This interview I heard with Chase spurred me to reach out to B4B in an effort to spread the word to our readers and share a story which I found to be so awesome. A super fast response from Chase let me know that the crew was on the road cycling toward Cleveland but he still was able to find the time to answer a few questions from BRM.
Justin Hamilton: For starters, tell us about what the mission for Biking for Baseball is and what you guys have now been able to accomplish after visits to 20 cities?
Chase Higgins: Biking for Baseball is a youth mentoring organization that is cycling to all 30 MLB stadiums this season. Along the way, we host free youth baseball clinics in which we partner with a local youth mentoring group, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Club. Our goal is to encourage adults to become mentors and re-energize already existing mentoring relationships. We have had very successful clinics in each city we’ve visited. We’ve introduced the game of baseball to many kids that haven’t been exposed to it in their lives. At each clinic we show many of the kids how to put the gloves on for the first time, and we teach them how to swing the bat. We hope our clinic sparks a shared interest in baseball between the youth and the mentor.
JH: What has been your favorite moment from the journey thus far?
CH: We have had many highlights from our journey so far. From showing many kids the game of baseball for the first time, to very memorable biking through the Redwoods in northern California, to meeting our favorite Royals players on the field in Kansas City (2 of us are Royals fans, myself included). We’ve met incredible people all across the country. Personally, chatting with Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and Jeff Francouer was my favorite moment. It’s difficult to name just one moment that sticks out above the rest. We’ve been on the road for the entire baseball season so far!
JH: I hear so many different answers as to which ballpark brings the best experience. Kaufmann Stadium, ATT Park, Wrigley…Given your unique perspective from the last few months, what has struck you as the best park?
CH: There have been many great baseball stadiums built over the last 15-20 years, and all of them have great sight lines and nice concourses. Again that makes it hard to choose one particular park. Out of the 21 stadiums we’ve seen so far, a few stand out for a few different reasons. One reason is beauty. AT&T Park, Petco Park, Kauffman Stadium, and Target Field are all very picturesque of the stadium’s we’ve visited so far. Another reason a stadium sticks out is the team’s attention to history, and Comerica Park does that well. The fan experience is also very important, and I our opinion that is areas for fans to interact on the concourse, and Comerica, Target Field, and Kauffman have that. If I was to narrow it down, those three stadiums would be my choice.
JH: Now for the Reds questions. At this point you have seen most, if not all, of the NL Central ballclubs play. Do you see the Reds continuing their run and holding on to the division or do you seen the Pirates or Cardinals coming back?
CH: I think the Reds are in great shape. The Pirates and Cardinals are two very good teams, but I think they will be battling each other for a wild card spot. Matt Latos is looking great recently, and Cueto is having another under-the-radar very good season. When Votto gets back from the DL next week, you guys will separate yourselves even more. It should be an exciting end of the season.
JH: You will be in Cincinnati on August 15th & 16th for events. Can you give us a rundown of the activities Biking for Baseball will be doing during your stay?
We will be in Cincinnati August 15-16. We’ll be at the Reds game August 15th when they take on the Mets. We’re very excited to see a game at Great American Ballpark. I’m the only one from our team that has been there before and it’s a great stadium. We hope to see some home runs to the short porch in right field. Come by and say hey to us during the game. The following day we are hosting a free youth baseball clinic from 6-8PM at the University of Cincinnati ball fields. We are partnering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cincinnati to bring youth and volunteers together for a fun baseball skills clinic followed by a game where the kids put their skills to the test.
JH: Finally and most importantly, I would like to give you an opportunity to let us know how we as individuals can help Biking for Baseball along on its journey? I would also like to thank you for taking the time during your busy schedule to give us here at BRM an idea about the amazing work you guys are doing.
CH: Thanks for asking this question. The first thing we encourage people to do is to be a positive influence in a kid’s life. It’s very easy to do. There are great groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters where there are many kids who are seeking someone to look up to. As a kid, many of us had coaches or teachers who were our role models, so we encourage people to do the same.
Secondly, we are very active with social media and that is a very important way for us to reach a great amount of people with our message of “every kid needs a coach.” Follow us on twitter @Biking4Baseball and Facebook Biking for Baseball. We try to be entertaining and we love interacting with baseball fans.
Lastly, we are a non-profit, so we do rely on donations for us to get from city to city to host the youth baseball clinics. We could always use baseball equipment donations, so the kids can play on nice equipment. We go through bike parts like crazy, and we still have about 3,000 more miles to travel, so we are in need of spare tubes and tires. Visit our website at www.bikingforbaseball.org to find out more information on how you can donate.
So BRMers, if you are going to be at Great American on August 15th, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some bikes and if you see the crew from B4B let them know what a great job they are doing and give them a good introduction to Reds Nation. And as a whole, do your best to be an All-Star for a kid whenever you can.