Baseball is often pegged as a father-son sport, but America's favorite pastime can hold meaning for mother-daughter duos, too.
For Katie Russell, love of baseball is deeply intertwined with love of her mother, whose dream was to see a game at each of the 30 Major League Baseball ballparks. Katie had been to 10 ballparks with her mother before she passed away from colon cancer in August 2009.
Six years later -- after Katie completed her own cancer treatment in December 2012 and her PhD in education in December of 2014 -- she has made it her goal to complete her mother's unfinished dream.
So this summer, Russell is attending a game at each stadium. She calls her project "MLB for MOM."
Russell began her journey in Philadelphia on April 6th -- what would've been her mom's 74th birthday. She has made it to 16 ballparks so far and is planning to end her travels in Chicago during the weekend of September 18th with her favorite team, the Cubs. (By the way, her own dream is to throw the first pitch at Wrigley Field.) "Pending what happens with playoffs and World Series," Russell said she "won't rule out going to those games, too."
Although she grew up in New Orleans, Russell told The Huffington Post that as a kid, she was able to follow Cubs games "because WGN televised all their games nationally."
"We never missed a Harry Caray rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' and even made our way one summer to the Windy City to sit at his table in his first Chicago restaurant," Russell writes on her website. "It was there that we decided we would one day watch a game at each of the Major League Baseball ballparks."
The rest is history.
Russell told HuffPost that her goal throughout this process "is to remain dedicated to the experience -- being present at each park, immersing myself in the fans, the food, and the fervor of a baseball game."
In planning her journey, Russell's "main objective has been to purchase tickets in various areas of a ballpark." She said, "My hope is that by sitting in different seats/levels that I will get different vantage points, which might offer me new insights." Russell attends games with family and friends who live around the area.
Russell has always believed that "sports are a metaphor for life’s larger narratives." She trusts that MLB for MOM will help her discover new things about the baseball bond she and her mother shared. She also hopes that it "resonates with people and...inspires others to look inward and to find a way to fulfill their dreams, one step (or ballpark) at a time."
Russell is determined to knock the ball outta the park with this project -- check out her cool MLB map for updates on the journey-of-a-lifetime.