‘Teammates’ complete remarkable journey
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
By GLENN MILLER
Roy Hobbs Baseball
The baseball trip of a lifetime for Eric Potter and his son, Brett, took 5 years to complete.
It also took one baseball, two gloves and 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and, oh, one epic detour.
They played catch at every big-league ballpark on a quest that began in 2014 at Anaheim Stadium and concluded at Dodger Stadium. It ended, fittingly perhaps, on the Fourth of July 2019.
What else says more about America and patriotism than fathers and sons playing catch with a baseball?
The ball they used from sea-to-shining sea is now in a case, a family treasure displayed in their Slidell, La., home.
The trip and every ballpark included some staples. There was dad. There was his son, now 15. Brett was 8 when they started the cross-country journey. And they played catch with the same ball, now scarred, and roughed up and discolored and not the pristine white it had been in 2014.
It all began with a request no doubt familiar to all Roy Hobbs players. “He wanted to play catch,” Potter said of his son.
The detour took them to the site of the most famous father-son catch in history. It was in Iowa at the iconic ballpark and cornfield used in the beloved film “Field of Dreams,” the place where the character Ray Kinsella plays catch with his long-dead father who comes back to life and to the field as a young man.
When the Potter family quest began, dad worked for Boeing in Huntsville, Ala. They now reside in Slidell after dad was transferred.
Wherever Eric and Brett have resided, they have always shared a baseball bond.
Eric is a 1996 graduate of the University of Alabama-Huntsville and a systems design engineer for Boeing Intelligence and Analytics.
But he’s always been a baseball player, from his days at Salman High School in Alabama to now all these years later in Roy Hobbs.
Although Brett was born with dwarfism, he shares his father’s passion for baseball. Brett was asked over the summer if he’d rather grow up to be an engineer or baseball player.
“I would rather play baseball,” Brett said.
That’s a sentiment likely shared by all Roy Hobbs players whether they are engineers or doctors or lawyers or butchers or bakers or candlestick makers.
Brett was born into baseball. His father is such a Kansas City Royals fan that he attends team fantasy camps. Brett was named after the greatest player in franchise history, Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett.
George Brett spent many spring trainings in Fort Myers at Terry Park, a place where Eric has played in the Roy Hobbs World Series. Eric said he and George Brett have discussed Terry Park at Royals’ fantasy camps.
The favorite stop on the Potter Play Catch Tour was Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium because it is the home of the duo’s favorite team.
This epic journey was done over 5 years, but Eric recalls one exhausting weekend when he and Brett visited 5 ballparks. He believes it was 2017 and their travels took them to Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and one other city he can’t recall.
That trip included one overnight driving marathon that left Eric exhausted so they could make it to all those parks. “I was pretty worn out,” Eric said.
But he did not quit. Never.
Their journey made the news at least twice when they resided in Madison, Ala., near Huntsville. They were profiled in 2017 and again in 2019 on WHNT, the local CBS affiliate.
In 2017, Brett was only 11 and at that point they had played catch in 24 big-league parks.
They still had 6 to go. The 2019 WHNT profile carried a tagline that Brett Potter and dad are batting 1.000 after concluding their mission.
Brett wore a Royals jersey and K.C. cap in the 2019 story. The news clip showed the Potters outside Target Field in Minneapolis. They talked about how In San Francisco the sacred ball rolled under a fence and had to be retrieved.
They were everywhere in those 5 years. Their gloves and that hallowed ball visited Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field and other less fabled playgrounds of the game in both big-league and minor-league cities.
But the best part wasn’t visiting historic stadiums.
“The best part was spending time with my son,” Eric Potter said.
The trip centered around a baseball and baseball games and stadiums, but it was far more meaningful than a sport or round object or structures. Eric, who has about 4,900 Facebook friends, made it clear in a post on Sept. 2.
“… For those of you who have followed Brett and I as we played catch at all MLB stadiums, the best part about it was all the friends we made along the way,” Eric wrote. “I think I have followers out there from at least 20 of those stadiums.”
But how many of those 4,900 follows can say they’ve played catch at every big-league ballpark?
Eric and Brett Potter can say that.