Baseball along Route 66 is so much more than Mickey Mantle

Baseball fans traveling down Route 66 can find plenty of things to satisfy their hardball fix. Dodgers fans, especially, should consider a trip down the Mother Road.

A statue of Oklahoma native and Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle is outside the third base gate at Chickasaw Bricktown Park.
Photo by Ron Clements

There’s a lot more to Route 66 baseball than Mickey Mantle. Sure, the Mick was a Route 66 boy, growing up in Commerce, Okla. – where you can see his childhood home and a statue of the “Commerce Comet” at Commerce High School outside of Mickey Mantle Field.

The Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League play at DuPage Medical Group Field.
Photo by Ron Clements

A young Mickey Mantle played for the Junior League Whiz Kids on youth fields in nearby Baxter Springs, and later at historic Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin. Mantle’s Whiz Kids jersey is on display at the Little League Museum in Baxter Springs.

But if you want to watch live baseball, you have myriad options from Joliet to Los Angeles. The Joliet Slammers, a minor league team in the independent Frontier League, play at DuPage Medical Group Field, formerly known as Route 66 Stadium. Illinois also has the Normal CornBelters, who play in a summer college wood-bat league at Corn Crib Stadium. Just outside of St. Louis, you’ll find the Gateway Grizzles, who are also in the Frontier League and play at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.

Then there is St. Louis with its Cardinals. You can’t miss Busch Stadium as you enter the Gateway City. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series titles, the most of any National League team. The Cardinals have their Double-A affiliate in Springfield, Mo. The Springfield Cardinals play in the Texas League, which also includes the Tulsa Drillers and Amarillo Sod Poodles – the Double-A affiliates of the Dodgers and Padres, respectively.

The Dodgers essentially own baseball on Route 66. Every level of Dodgers baseball is on Route 66 – Single A in Rancho Cucamonga at LoanMart Field, Double A in Tulsa at ONEOK Field, Triple A in Oklahoma City at Chickasaw Bricktown Park – where another statue of Mantle is outside the stadium along with Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Warren Spahn – and the big club at Dodger Stadium, which is right off of Highway 101 (or Route 66) as you enter Los Angeles from Pasadena.

America’s pastime is alive and well along Route 66. Take in a game or three as you traverse the Mother Road. Just don’t forget the peanuts or Cracker Jack.

Ron Clements

Ron Clements

Ron Clements is a Wisconsin native and Green Bay Packers fan who married a Chicago Bears fan from Peoria, Illinois. Despite the rivalry, Ron and Patti make it work and have been living fulltime in an RV since March 2018. They travel the country in search of new adventures and love attending baseball games and exploring national parks. They visited all 30 MLB stadiums in 2018 and have taken their RV to each of the Lower 48 states. Ron is a veteran journalist of more than two decades and a summa cum laude graduate of East Carolina University, which he attended following his service in the United States Marine Corps. Ron has written for USA Today, Sporting News, CBS Sports, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Omaha World Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Fresno Bee, the Montgomery Advertiser, and many other media outlets. The Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 is for anyone who has ever driven past a high school, college, or professional stadium, and thought, “I wonder what it’s like to see a game there.” A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 will be in bookstores and online everywhere on August 3, 2021.

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