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Newhall couple covers all the bases

Travel: John and Ellie Fuller made a tradition of visiting boys of summer

Posted: July 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.

John and Ellie Fuller, of Newhall, go through photo albums of trips they’ve taken to Major League ballparks throughout North America with their grandson Brady.

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Wrigley Field. Fenway Park. Yankee Stadium. More than 30 stadiums in all.

Name a Major League Baseball stadium in North America, and John and Ellie Fuller have seen it.

Since 2002, the Newhall residents have made a summertime tradition of traveling with their grandson Brady Fuller to see where the sport’s greatest games have been played.

“We picked up a sports travel brochure, and it sounded interesting,” said John Fuller, who retired as vice president of finance and administration from Valencia’s California Institute of the Arts in 1998. “The three of us really like baseball. We tried a stadium tour, and once we did, we were hooked.”

“Afterwards, we always say, ‘Where do you want to go next year?’ It’s about seeing all the stadiums, and how different they are,” Ellie Fuller, a retired preschool teacher, said. “Brady’s always excited about it.”

The Fullers, including Brady, just returned in late June from a trip to Minneapolis to view the newly constructed Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins.

“It’s a beautiful stadium. There were lots of food options, and it had good sight lines on the field,” John Fuller said.

They also included a side trip to Omaha, Neb., to watch a game from the College World Series.

“We usually see four or five stadiums each year, but we had to get back in time for our granddaughter’s wedding,” John Fuller said.

Married for 56 years, the Los Angeles natives, who went to high school and college together, weren’t originally that into sports. That changed after they had their children Bruce, Steve and Jane. 

The Fullers have lived in the same Friendly Valley neighborhood in Newhall since 1964 and growing up, the boys immediately gravitated toward baseball, whether it was trading cards or playing the sport, eventually for William S. Hart High School.

Back then, taking a family out to the ballgame wasn’t too expensive. Things are a bit different today.

“Remember when hot dogs were a dollar?” Ellie Fuller asked her husband.

“It’s a lot more now,” John Fuller responded. “Ticket prices are a lot higher, too.”

The Fuller children, all Hart High School graduates, retained their athletic interests as adults.

Jane Fuller, who now lives in Washington state, is a marathon runner, while Bruce Fuller, who remained in Valencia, loves baseball and often accompanies his parents and nephew on the stadium trips. 

That love got passed along to Brady, Steve’s son, a high school senior and baseball player in Oakland.
Preparation for the baseball tours, which take place each June to accommodate Brady’s schooling, start at Christmas.

“It’s when we’re all together and decide what we’re going to do,” Ellie Fuller said.

“I have to consult schedules, buy tickets, reserve motels and such,” John Fuller said.

There have been favorite stops for each.

“Fenway is really unique. It’s located in the heart of town, and a really interesting place to visit,” John Fuller said.

“Wrigley Field has a lot of ambience. It’s surrounded by apartments. People stand on the roofs or even build bleachers to watch the game,” Ellie Fuller said.

Some destinations haven’t been as fun. When the Fullers went to St. Louis to see its new stadium in 2007, it was
overflowing with fans because the Cardinals had won the World Series the year before.

“It was standing room only, and it was hot. Eventually, we found some abandoned seats,” Ellie Fuller said.

Then there are the people they meet along the way.

“Some of them have a lot of memorabilia. They’re real baseball nuts. One of our tour directors had painted her Volkswagen beetle to look like a baseball,” John Fuller said.

Side trips have also provided entertainment, such as Cooperstown, N.Y., which is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, or the eastern Iowa location for the 1989 Kevin Costner baseball movie “Field of Dreams.”

“We thought it would be hokey, but it wasn’t,” John Fuller said of the latter.

“It’s not real commercial; it’s out in the middle of nowhere,” Ellie Fuller said. “The kids played on the field, which was fun.
There was still corn growing around the field. We all had our pictures taken there.”

“If you saw the movie, you know Shoeless Joe Jackson came out of the cornfields to play,” John Fuller said.

While Jackson didn’t appear at the field that day, the Fullers did purchase a souvenir cup that, when hot liquid is added, conjures up all the players from the film.

It’s one of many mementos from their travels, most of which resides at Brady’s home in Oakland. The Fuller’s Newhall collection includes a series of caps from different teams and a large set of Los Angeles Dodger bobbleheads.

“Most of these guys aren’t even in the Dodgers anymore,” Ellie Fuller said, looking down at the dolls.

When they’re not hitting the stadium circuit, the Fullers travel with their other grandchildren to national parks, such as
Yellowstone or historic American landmarks, such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Penn., and Williamsburg, Va.

Since Brady is graduating in 2012 and will be moving on to college, and the Fullers have already visited all of the stadiums North America has to offer, the annual treks may just come to an end.

“Next year, we might go to the new stadium being built now in Miami, but we may go to Alaska instead,” John Fuller said.

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