by Lisa Tome
It's hard to hold a conversation with Christine and Heather Dugan when baseball is on television.
The Elkton mother and daughter duo have such a love of the game that it's hard for them to focus on anything else.
They love their diamonds.
In the 1990s, Christine, 54, vowed that her daughter would visit all 30 of the major league baseball stadiums in the U.S. before Heather turns 30.
On Saturday, August 23, Heather made her 29th stadium visit when she watched the Texas Rangers play the Kansas City Royals.
Saturday, August 30, she visited her 30th stadium when the Royals played the Indians. That completed her 30-stadium tour.
Heather accomplished the goal before her mother. Christine won't get to the Anaheim stadium, her 30th, until next summer. They have some breathing room. Heather won't turn 30 until December.
These woman love baseball. "I've been a Mets fan for as long as I can remember. Just before I turned two in 1986, they won the World Series. I have a Cabbage Patch doll that's wearing a Mets uniform. It's always been the Mets," said Heather.
They know the Mets players and have interacted with them many times. They are particularly fond of third baseman David Wright. They are also fans of and friends with coaches and trainers.
Christine grew up in North Jersey. She had five older brothers, three of whom were Mets fans. She's been following and loving the team for 38 years.
She passed her love of the Mets onto her daughter who so loves the team that the license tag on her car declares that she's a "Mets Grl".
The baseball season lasts six months. For this pair it's year round.
"I only lasted in ballet for one day," laughed Heather, who knows the rules and the strategies for the game.
They center the family vacations around baseball, explained Pete, who is Christine's husband, and Heather's father.
The women agree that baseball is amazing. "It's our passion. It's what we do," said Heather.
When Super Bowl rolls around the women celebrate. Because that means that pitchers and catchers report in two weeks.
Pete likes baseball but admits that he doesn't have the love for it that his wife and daughter do.
"It doesn't bother me at all that they do this. I watch the games when they go away (to see if they are on TV). I don't plan my life around it like they do," he said. "It's harmless and they get to see the country."
Baseball is such a passion that at Heather's church confirmation, Christine was walking around with a headset radio, listening to the Mets play. The mother and daughter also used to send each other pager messages with inning and scores of games, before smart phones came along.
Christine is the parish administrator at St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church in North East. Heather is an executive assistant for the West Chester YMCA. They have plenty of baseball stadium tales to tell coworkers.
While they have made many friends in their baseball travels, they are diehard fans who watch every minute of the game. "It has to be a true emergency or extra innings for me to go to the bathroom (during a game)," said Heather.
Pete also said he doesn't mind funding the baseball adventures for his wife and daughter. Stadium visits are not cheap. Tickets are $60-$100 per game. There is also hotel stays and airline tickets to purchase.
That's how Christine spends the off season. Beginning September 15 when the Mets schedule for next season is released, she begins booking airlines and hotel reservations to get the best rates. They have also driven as far away as Milwaukee to catch a game. They have travelled to Montreal and Puerto Rico to watch baseball.
They've been to some stadiums multiple times. And due to inter-league play, Heather has seen the Mets play in 26 of the stadiums.
Their shared favorite stadium is Coors Field in Colorado.
They miss Shea Stadium, which is where Heather saw her first game.
Heather said she is amazed she reached her goal.
"It's surreal to almost have the goal," she said.
"We will still go to games," said Christine.