Ron and Patti Clements are big baseball fans.
A Wisconsin native, Ron has been cheering on the Milwaukee Brewers all of his life. Patti, originally from Peoria, Ill., is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.
So last year, they came up with an idea.
“We were kicking around travel ideas,” Ron said. “We settled on a baseball trip to go to all 30 major league baseball stadiums.”
After 6 months of driving through 38 states, 2 Canadian provinces and more than 15,000 miles on an RV, the Clements accomplished their feat of visiting all 30 major league ballparks as part of a program called Home Run On Wheels. The trip helped bring awareness to foster children.
“We’re proud of what we’re able to do,” Ron said.
This year, the Clements are still traveling. Recently, they visited the Chicago area to help promote a book Ron wrote, “Home Run on Wheels,” that chronicled their long journey in 2018.
The Clements, who are now Florida residents, will head to the St. Louis area in October. A book signing is scheduled for Oct. 6 at Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Fairview Heights.
“I hope people buy the book so they could read about our mission and inspire people to get involved,” Ron said.
Ron and Patti got married in March 2017. Two months later, Patti got an IT manager job that allowed her to work remotely. That gave the Clements an opportunity to go on their big baseball trip.
“Two months into her job, my wife says, ‘I can do this anywhere,’” said Ron, a former sports reporter for the Alton area.
The Clements, who were living in Charlotte, N.C., at the time, came up with the idea of supporting foster children on the trip after having dinner with Celeste Dominguez, CEO of Children’s Hope Alliance.
“She (Dominguez) said it would be neat if we get a kid to a game,” Ron said. “The light bulb went on with Celeste when she said we could get multiple kids to games. So that’s when our mission with foster care was born.”
The Clements began working on their mission on July 28, 2017, reaching out to foster care organizations in cities such as St. Louis, Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit and Miami. In March 2018, they left their Charlotte home to pick up an RV for their trip, which began March 29 with a Miami Marlins game and ended with a Cardinals game in St. Louis on Sept. 25.
Ron said the biggest highlight of the 2018 trip came at a Colorado Rockies game July 11. One of the foster children caught a home run hit by Rockies pitcher German Marquez.
“I hope 20, 30 or 40 years from now, he will still tell the story about when he was 10 years old sitting at section 156 at Coors Field, he caught a home run by German Marquez,” Ron said.
The Clements began their second year of the Home Run on Wheels program on April 4, when they went to a Memphis Redbirds minor-league baseball game. They also went to Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. In a span of two years, they have visited 44 states.
“Now, we’re on a quest to get to every state we can drive to,” Ron said.
Patti said all of this traveling has helped them learn a lot about foster care.
“Ron had family members who were foster parents,” she said. “The more we learned about all of the needs out there, the more we definitely wanted to continue finishing our mission.”