In February of 2006, RJ Breisacher enlisted in the army. Since that time, he has spent time at Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri), Fort Bliss (Texas), Camp Bucca (Iraq), and Bagram Airfield (Afghanistan). He returned to Toledo, Ohio in February, and now he is ready for an entirely different bit of travel during the spring of 2012.
Beginning April 5th, Breisacher will make a trip around the United States to see every Major League ballpark. He will start on opening day at Comerica Park, home of his favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. He says that the trip was inspired by discussions that he had with his fellow soldiers while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"My missions gave me and my fellow soldiers plenty of time to dream. A significant amount of time is spent talking about what you want to do when you get home, what you've always wanted to do, [or] what you would do if nothing stood in your way?"
Breisacher soon realized that much of the dreaming and aspirations of his fellow soldiers seemed to wear off once they were back home "because real life gets in the way." He began pitching his idea to people when he was home on leave in July 2011 when he saw two Tigers game. "I told a friend about how I would love to see all 30 MLB ballparks and she was instantly supportive. It was her idea for me to blog and vlog my trip. That is how the ball started rolling."
There are skeptics as to whether or not Breisacher will actually follow through and complete this epic journey. To his critics, Bresiacher says, "I am an American Soldier. I can do anything that I set my mind to. I want to prove to all my soldiers that no matter what, if you chase a dream, it can and will be accomplished."
Another inspiration for Breisacher is his grandfather, who passed away when he was in the 5th grade. "As a child I loved baseball because my grandfather loved baseball. He had played in the Minor Leagues for the Toledo Mud Hens." When his grandfather passed away Breisacher's love of baseball "went into hibernation."
"It came back after I joined the military. I took for granted that I can just turn on a game at any time during the summer. I took for granted that America's sport was always there. In Iraq I missed baseball like crazy."
Breisacher hadn't really traveled before he joined the military. Now, he feels like this is the perfect way for him to see the nation he protected. He wants to see the land that he served and "to experience it all first hand."
"Baseball is perfect for that because it is America's game. I love walking into ballparks and seeing the history come to life. I like seeing the little kid with wide eyes as he tries to take in everything from his first game. I like to see the wide eyes of the old man who walks into the park and remembers the first time his old man brought him to see his favorite team play."
This is also a journey of personal growth for Breisacher. According to Breisacher, "I learned way more than I thought I would in my six years in the Army. A trip like this can only allow more personal growth."
Other friends and veterans will join Breisacher along the way, but much of this journey he will make alone. He'll end his journey the same place he started, 71 days later at Comerica Park. In total he'll drive more than 13,416 miles. Click on schedule to see his complete itinerary.
"I think the best part for me will be seeing the country I love so much. I think it will be amazing to see people from all over the country coming together to enjoy something they collectively love in the safety of American society."
To follow RJ Breisacher's journey, check out his website Baseball Dreamin.