Nobody will ever question love of baseball ever again — and certainly not his wife Carolyn.
In fact, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of people from every corner of America who will be able to personally testify to his passion by summer’s end.
The LaWells are in the midst of a 152-day, 26,000-mile road trip that will visit 120 minor league teams that began April 5 in Jacksonville, Fla., and ends Sept. 3 in Toledo.
But when their well-traveled Honda Element pulls away from its final stop in Toledo, there’s a good chance the LaWells will be heading back to Lakewood. After all, they lived in Lakewood a year and a half before taking the trip and formed a good part of the journey’s planning here.
In fact, Northeast Ohio is the backdrop for the LaWells’ love of the game. Matt, 28, is originally from Hudson and Carolyn, 27, from Canton. The two met at Ohio University as magazine journalism majors where Matt originally dreamed up the idea. As you might imagine, both are Indians fans.
“I love baseball … I grew up watching the Indians. If the Indians were on, it was on the TV or radio in our household, so I had no choice,” Carolyn joked. “I would say baseball’s my favorite sport.”
Matt is a freelance writer and has in Northeast Ohio, and Carolyn is on leave from a magazine editing role. LaWell covered the Kansas City Royals for mlb.com in 2005 when they lost 106 games, but his love for the Indians and baseball deepened when the Tribe lost 105 games in 1991.
Matt joked that he has an attraction to losing which is fitting given that a big part of minor-league baseball lore is about the general managers, owners, players and various other colorful characters that likely won’t make it to the big time.
For Matt, minor-league baseball provides an opportunity to tell those stories that oftentimes don’t register on the sports landscape — the little guy who dares to dream of the majors but more often than not falls short.
“We won’t even pretend that we can tell all of them, but there are thousands of great stories in the minor leagues. Because of the scope of the media and the shear amount of teams that are there, you can’t tell all of them. And they don’t get told often, but we think they’re the stories that should be told a little bit.”
And although it’s the players that garner most of the public’s attention, there’s lot of other interesting people who work at these ballparks and deserve a place in sporting lore.
“There are beverage guys who design ridiculous hotdogs, people who work at the biscuit stand for six years, and they don’t say much about themselves. But the minute you ask them about the biscuits they serve, their eyes light up,” Matt said.
The LaWells’ road trip will be making a run through Ohio, and they will visit Cleveland Indians minor-league ball clubs including the Columbus Clippers (July 24), Akron Aeros (July 25) and Lake County Captains (July 26).
If you’re there in July, check for a Honda Element in the parking lot.