Here’s the Best Pitch You’ll Get All Season:
Destinations in Three Neighboring States Team up to Create a Baseball-Centric Road Trip
Now that Major League Baseball has finally started, a trio of baseball-oriented destinations in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland have organized the ultimate road trip for travelers who are ready to get out of their dugouts this year for a long-overdue “away game,” whether their roster includes kids, a significant other, or fun friends.
The “Round-Tripper” is a baseball-themed triple play that encourages visitors to follow the path of the Susquehanna River as it winds its way along a 444-mile path, beginning, passing through and ending in three of the most baseball-centric places in America: Cooperstown, New York, the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, and Harford County, Maryland.
COVID threw the travel industry a curveball over the past two years, but an idea that came out of left field during a conversation among a team of tourism officials eager to bring visitors back to their destinations has resulted in a collaboration that might just be a home run.
This Is Cooperstown, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Visit Harford have teamed up to cross-promote baseball-themed tourism experiences in all three regions. Each has covered its bases by creating a list of baseball-centric attractions, sites and restaurants that visitors can find on all three organizations’ websites.
Travelers can move north or south, and there’s a strong argument for each end. The Susquehanna River begins in Cooperstown, which would also be a likely starting point for visitors coming from New England or New York. But it could be just as satisfying to begin in Maryland – where legendary players were born – and move northward, concluding where only a fraction of the best players in the game also end up … at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here’s a sample lineup, following the route south along the Susquehanna River:
- Step up to bat in Cooperstown, New York, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” It’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, historic Doubleday Field, three bat companies (fun coincidence: the trees found near Cooperstown feature wood that’s considered perfect for bats), several memorabilia shops, baseball-themed breweries and distilleries, and a league of restaurants that serve incredible hot dogs.
- On deck is Binghamton, New York, where travelers can catch a Rumble Ponies Minor League game before they choose to go one of two directions. The Rumble Ponies are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
- Road trippers can then run for nearby Corning, New York, where a famous glass factory crafts fascinating glass bats. Or they can instead head to a different sort of factory — Factoryville, Pennsylvania – which is the hometown of Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Then it’s on to Scranton for a RailRiders Minor League game. If they time it right, visitors can take a historic trolley out to the ballpark to see the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees play.
- Whether they’re coming from Corning or Scranton, third base is Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to both the Little League Hall of Fame, which honors the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and the Crosscutters, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays at the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the country.
- Home plate on this direction of the trip is Harford County, a small destination with significant baseball history. It’s where both Ernest Burke, a record-holder in the Negro Leagues, and the members of the legendary Ripken family were all born. Burke is honored with a statue in his hometown of Havre de Grace, which is where the Susquehanna River ends as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Twenty minutes away, you’ll arrive in the town of Aberdeen and find The Ripken Experience, where Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill (both former Baltimore Orioles) teach young ballplayers to dream big as they play in mini stadiums that are replicas of the most iconic ballfields in America. You can end the adventure by watching the team Cal Jr. owns, the IronBirds, a High-A affiliate of the Orioles, take to the field.
There’s no home-field advantage on this tour; each destination is prepared to support its neighbors with the intention that everyone involved will score a hit. The regions are ready to welcome visitors, and those visitors – from rookies to the most seasoned sluggers – will find museums, memorials, restaurants, hotels and small businesses that offer historic insights into baseball while also celebrating the fun and nostalgia of America’s pastime.
Along the way, they can watch games being played by kids, college students and Minor Leaguers aspiring to make it to The Show. The routes outlined on the tourism websites indicate travel distances and the suggested amount of time for visiting each attraction, though the destinations welcome anyone who’d like to stay for extra innings and spend a little more time discovering what makes each place special.
For more information about the Round-Tripper, a baseball-themed road trip through three states, you can visit the websites of each of the collaborative destinations that assembled the tour. Here’s a link that takes you from Cooperstown south, and here’s the one that begins in Harford County, Maryland and heads north.