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.
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.
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.