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Jay Paris: Take me out to the ballgame has special meaning for Haferkamps

The Haferkamp family is super cool.

Or is it super nuts?

You decide, but the Carlsbad clan did something that nearly everyone addicted to baseball has pondered: What would it be like to visit all 30 Major League stadiums?

The Haferkamps found out over a five-year trek that has resulted in a dynamite book, “Let’s Hit ‘Em All.”

The book, “Let’s Hit ‘Em All,” is published through Mascot Books. The book was written by Dayna and Steve Haferkamp.                     Courtesy photo
The book, “Let’s Hit ‘Em All,” is published through Mascot Books. The book was written by Dayna and Steve Haferkamp. Courtesy photo

Parents Steve and Dayna Haferkamp were only half of this bunch hooked on baseball. Their sons, Grant and Jack, were also along for the ride and according to the adults, were the instigators of this mission, which is dear to all Seamheads.

The Haferkamps were attending a Padres game in 2008 when Grant and Jack were selected to assist in the pre-game activities.

“That was so special and they were so excited,’’ Steve said. “The next day we were having breakfast and they said they were thinking about doing all the stadiums. It was totally their idea that we do it. We figured if we were going to do it, we had to do it as a whole family and while the kids were young.’’

Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” never gets old. But 30 different venues over five summers with young ‘uns so small they still fit in their parents arms?

Steve and Dayna just shrugged.

“It didn’t take us long to consider doing it,’’ said Dayna, born and raised a dedicated Pittsburgh Pirates fan. “We got out the pen and paper and started mapping it out.’’

So the journey began, as the Haferkamps rode a collection of planes, trains and automobiles to reach their nirvana that revolved around the No. 30.

“It was everything we thought it would be and more,’’ Dayna said.

Which is evident in their book, which includes pictures of every venue that make you feel as if you’re riding shotgun with the Haferkamps.

The second stop of their trek was Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. While the Haferkamps were introducing another generation to baseball’s pull, Dayna was felling the tug on her heart.

“This was really a testament to my mom,’’ Dayna said of her late mother, Della Marie Cochran. “She was all about family and spending quality time together. We wanted that spirit to live on and build a legacy that we could pass on.’’

But the excursion became more than just about baseball. It was about interacting with others, learning about different cities, discovering what makes America — and Toronto — great and is it possible to eat too many hot dogs?

“We learned that what you find out when you are in these different places that you can just talk to people and everyone is connected through baseball,’’ Dayna said. “When you would engage in conversations it was just amazing.’’

While also underscoring what makes baseball so grand. There’s down time between batters, a causal rhythm that every game possess which allows strangers to become friends in the moments when the action on the diamond takes a break.

Steve had a go-to line that never failed.

“You guys from around here?’’ he asked as a tourist, knowing what came next.

“They would give you the history of the stadium, tell you where the best microbeer stand was and everything else,’’ Steve said. “At baseball games, people are really open. At football games, people are in a rush, a hurry, not to miss a play. Not so at baseball games.’’

While absorbing the nuances of every contest — they saw a no-hitter in Cincinnati — it was before the first pitch that often had its biggest impact. The cheery Haferkamps made sure their sons met the people running the games and not just those running on the field.

They made nice with ushers, parking lot attendants, concession workers — you name it.

“The most important thing we wanted to get across to the boys was to make sure they were respective and learned their pleases, thank yous and to look people in the eye when they met them,’’ Dayna said. “Those were life lessons.’’

While they had the time of their lives, in doing so, they’re hoping their trip inspires others.

“So many people say, ‘Oh man, that is everyone’s dream,’’’ Steve said. “And it can be done. You don’t have to do it in five years; there’s no need to be rushed. Just enjoy yourself, plan it out and go for it.’’

The Haferkamps did just that and have the frequent flier miles to prove it.

The book is a fun read and if you’re wanting to meet the Haferkamps, they’ll be at the All-Star FanFest which runs July 8 through July 12 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports