BOISE, ID — It's October and that means the World Series. Baseball fans are loyal and they love their hobbies, like collecting player cards or autographs. But a Boise man's obsession has taken on a whole new meaning when it comes to the love of the game. As the current President and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber, Bill Conners thinks Minor League Baseball is an important community amenity. When Conners isn't marketing Boise as a place to do business, he loves to talk baseball to anyone who will listen. You see for Bill Conners, Minor League Baseball is something special, almost spiritual.
"Well, I just think you got kids who are trying harder, it's a family event, it's almost like a picnic atmosphere. It doesn't cost you twenty bucks for a glass of beer."
So when I tell you Conners has traveled to well over two hundred Minor League ballparks, you shouldn't be surprised. He even has a map with orange dots representing all the ballparks he's been to. Places like Davenport Iowa, Greensboro North Carolina, Frisco Texas, and yes, he finally made it to all fifty states when he traveled to one of the least traveled states in the lower 48, North Dakota. Conners said the reason is simple.
"The reason I went was to see the Fargo Red Hawks. Beautiful little ballpark but Fargo is a cool little town."
Like Altoona Pennsylvania, home to the Altoona Curve. One would think the team was named after a curve ball, right? Conners explains.
"Well no, because Altoona has the most acute railroad curve in the United States."
Guessing the team's mascot can be just as fun as the game itself. I tried to guess from a box full of hats that Conners displayed on a table.
"Obviously it's a lobster. The Red Claws? Nope this the Hickory Crawdads in Hickory, North Carolina."
Named because of the animal's strength and presence in local waterways.
"What in the heck is a Sod Poodle? It's a nickname for a species of Prairie Dog in the panhandle of Texas."
Even Conners' wife, who herself has been to 90 different towns across America, has had enough of Bill's hobby.
"Used to be my wife would come along. We made an agreement, you go ahead and do it. Yeah, like I say it's fun, I could have worse hobbies I guess."