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Love baseball as much as you love a good redemption award? TPG Contributor J. Keith van Straaten does too. Here’s his way to see a whole lot of baseball for not that many points and miles. (As of this writing, all flights listed below have availability — and all stadium photos are used courtesy of the individual stadiums.)
Even if you’ve only got a few weeks off this summer, there’s still a way to see all the baseball you can handle — and thanks to a recent spate of lucrative credit card bonuses, many of you have the points and miles to do it on the cheap.
So here’s an itinerary to see all 30 Major League Baseball teams in 20 days for around 100,000 points and miles. Are you up to the challenge?
A Few Things Before You Go
This itinerary uses lots of Ultimate Rewards points (which you can earn from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom and Ink Plus) and ThankYou points (which you can earn from cards like Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Preferred Card).
As of this writing, the British Airways website is not properly displaying availability on American Airlines flights. This is too bad, because you can get incredible value when transferring Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios and then using those Avios points to fly American Airlines. Flights under 650 miles cost only 4,500 Avios (compared to 12,500+ AAdvantage miles for the exact same flights)! Where applicable, this itinerary notes when it may be worth your while to check the BA site or call for an Avios redemption, though beware: Getting through on the phone to a BA agent can literally take hours.
When preparing to rent a car, always check the partner pages of your frequent flyer program to see what bonuses and discounts are being offered. That way, you can score a discount, earn bonus miles and still double-dip by booking with a credit card that earns you bonus points or miles on car rentals.
Consider using your points and miles to upgrade your baseball binge. Check out the experience sites listed at the bottom of this post for some links and ideas.
The links for each game listing will send you to the home team’s official (full-price) ticket site. For the more cost-conscious, search Craigslist and StubHub for game tickets below face value.
OK, Let’s Play Ball!
Your three-week countdown kicks off on/in:
Friday, July 17 — Cincinnati, Ohio
Following The All-Star Game on July 14 — where you can see all 30 teams play at once — the baseball season resumes with “The Ohio Cup,” an in-state interleague rivalry. See how long the Reds wait until after the All-Star game to trade their best players and/or take down the red-white-and-blue bunting.
Teams seen: 2
Points used: 0
Saturday, July 18 — Los Angeles, California
Fly from Cincinnati (CVG)-Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)-Los Angeles (LAX) on American Airlines. This is definitely one of the itineraries worth checking on British Airways; nonstop flights should be available for 10,000 Avios; the same itinerary requires 21,328 Ultimate Rewards points when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. (Just to be safe, you’ll see the higher-cost redemption awards in the running total.)
Teams seen: 4
Points used: 21,328
Sunday, July 19 and Monday, July 20 — San Diego, California
July 19: Take the train from Anaheim (ANA) to San Diego (SAN) on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, using 1,500 Guest Rewards points (which you can transfer 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards, if necessary). Amtrak stations are within walking distance of the baseball stadiums in Anaheim and San Diego, and the Pacific Surfliner is one of Amtrak’s “Special Routes,” their lowest point redemption. Travel time is about 2 to 2.5 hours.
When it’s Sunday in San Diego, you’ll see camouflage uniforms!
July 20: On your second day in San Diego, you’ll have a whole day to yourself in the city, followed by the reigning World Series champions at night.
Teams seen: 7
Points used: 22,828
Tuesday, July 21 — Oakland, California
Drive to Oakland (About 500 miles / 8 hours). Southwest flies nonstop, but it’s a beautiful drive and you’ll still make the game if you leave after breakfast. Recommended stop: World’s Largest Artichoke in Castroville.
Teams seen: 9
Points used: 22,828
Wednesday, July 22 — Phoenix, Arizona.
Fly from San Francisco (SFO) to Phoenix (PHX) on United, booked by transferring 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to United Mileage Plus.
Arizona in July? Don’t worry: There’s a roof, air-conditioning and a pool.
Teams seen: 11
Points used: 32,828
Thursday, July 23 and Friday, July 24 — Kansas City, Missouri
July 23: Fly From Phoenix (PHX) to Kansas City (MCI), on Delta, using 11,248 Ultimate Rewards points booked through the Ultimate Rewards site. Use the day off in KC to visit the astonishing Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
July 24, 7:10pm – Kauffman Stadium: Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals
What’s better than two young teams battling it out on a beautiful summer night at a beautiful stadium? How about $1 hot dogs and peanuts?!
Teams seen: 13
Points used: 44,076
Saturday, July 25 — St. Louis, Missouri
Take the train from Kansas City (KCY) to St. Louis (STL) on Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner, using 1,500 Guest Rewards points (which you can transfer 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards, if necessary). The Missouri River Runner is another of Amtrak’s “Special Routes,” its lowest point redemption. Travel time is 5 hours, 40 minutes.
Be one of the first 25,000 fans at the gate to get your free Adam Wainwright jersey! And congratulations, you’re exactly halfway through the 30 MLB teams.
Teams seen: 15
Points used: 45,576
Sunday, July 26 — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fly St. Louis (STL) to Pittsburgh (PIT) on Southwest using 7,970 Rapid Rewards points (which you can transfer 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards, if necessary).
Bring a kid to the game to get the stadium giveaway of a Liriano & Walker kids cup, or just enjoy the spectacular view at one of the best ballparks in the country.
Teams seen: 17
Points used: 53,546
Monday, July 27 — Boston, Massachusetts
Fly from Pittsburgh (PIT) to Boston (BOS) on JetBlue using 10,300 TrueBlue points. (You can do it for 9,000 Avios points booking through British Airways, but the connecting flight makes it twice as long. Splurge for the extra 1,300 points and enjoy the day in Boston.)
It’s hot Sox-on-Sox action at baseball’s cathedral. Get there early and take a tour.
Teams seen: 18
Points used: 63,846
Tuesday, July 28 — New York, New York
Take the bus from Boston (South Station) to New York (33rd Sreet) on BoltBus, which has free Wi-Fi and drops you off in Manhattan. Buy your $18 ticket in advance and don’t be late — they run a tight ship! Travel time is 4 hours, 15 minutes.
Yes, it’s the third time you’re seeing the Padres this trip, but you’re in the stadium with the majors’ best food! And you get a free day in NYC tomorrow!
Teams seen: 19
Points used: 63,846
Thursday, July 30 — Dallas, Texas
Fly from New York-LaGuardia (LGA) to Dallas (DAL) on Southwest using 8,915 Rapid Rewards points (which you can transfer 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards, if necessary).
Teams seen: 21
Points used: 72,761
Friday, July 31 — Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fly from Dallas (DFW) to Minneapolis (MSP) on American using 10,693 Thank You points, booked through Citi’s ThankYou.com. (This is another flight that may be worth checking on British Airways if you want to save some points; this exact same flight should be available for 7,500 Avios.)
You must really like fireworks, because here comes another free show after the game. And you can have fireworks in your mouth with offerings from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern’s canteen, including his Korean Fried Chicken sandwich.
Teams seen: 23
Points used: 83,454
Saturday, August 1 — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Fly from Minneapolis (MSP) to Milwaukee (MKE) on Southwest using 7,417 Rapid Rewards points. (Here’s another one you may wish to check on British Airways for American Airlines; it should be 4,500 Avios, but note that there will be a short connection in Chicago).
All the fans who come up from Chicago may make this feel oddly like a Cubs home game. It may feel even more odd when giant sausages start racing in front of you.
Teams seen: 25
Points used: 90,871
Sunday, August 2 — Baltimore, Maryland
Fly from Milwaukee (MKE) to Baltimore (BWI) on Southwest using 8,068 Rapid Rewards points.
Check out Baltimore’s Babe Ruth Museum in the morning.
Enjoy the ballpark that started the renaissance in retro-themed parks. It still holds up as one of the best.
Teams seen: 27
Points used: 98,939
Monday, August 3 and Tuesday, August 4 — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
August 3: Take the train from Baltimore Penn Station (BAL) to Philadelphia 30th Street Station (PHL). Amtrak’s “Northeast Zone” seats cost 4,000 Guest Rewards points, which if you have to transfer from Ultimate Rewards carries a value of $84. A “Saver” ticket costs $35 — so pay cash. Travel time is 1 hour, 10 minutes.
August 4, 7:05pm – Citizens Bank Park: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies
Studies have been done showing that Citizens Bank Park is the best place to catch a home run ball. With the power in the Dodgers lineup and the weakness in the Phillies pitching, you may want to sit yourself in the bleachers. And bring a glove.
Teams seen: 29
Points used: 98,939
Wednesday, August 5 — Chicago, Illinois
Fly from Philadelphia (PHL) to Chicago (ORD) on Spirit, using 4,368 Citi Thank You points, booked through Citi’s ThankYou.com.
Your final stop on the tour brings you back to the Midwest. Want to celebrate your accomplishment? The White Sox offer various fan experiences for purchase, from sitting in the dugout during batting practice to an on-field wedding.
Teams seen: 30
Points used: 103,307
(If you’re able to use your Avios points on the recommended flights, your total plummets to 85,869.)
Congratulations! Using just about 100,000 points and miles, you saw all 30 Major League Baseball teams in less than 20 days. And there’s enough of the season left to do it again…
But if you’re planning to go to just a few baseball games this season, visit experience and auction sites for ways to use your points on individual games and special perks. Note that of this writing, none of the major experience/auction sites’ offerings align with this Baseball Binge itinerary, but new events are added all the time.
Check out these other TPG posts on using points for sports experiences:
Evaluating IHG Rewards Club and Other Auction Programs
My Favorite Use of Points Ever? VIP at the Knicks With SPG
Experience With Points: Hilton HHonors Auction Platform
Are Flights and Hotels Really the Best Award Redemptions?
Got any tips we missed? Think you can plan it better? Let us know in the comments below!