By Prof. Michaelis
For the Wolk family, vacation plans don’t spin around beach access, scenic trails or the number of national monuments within a 50-mile radius.
Ben Wolk and his parents, Jim Wolk and Jackie Pray, spend their leisure time visiting monuments of sport — specifically, baseball stadiums.
“We get so many different perspectives, it just really makes me think about the sport outside of just baseball and sort of the entire spectacle of it,” said Ben Wolk, a University of Georgia student.
He has seen Jose Reyes hit for the cycle at Shea Stadium. He speaks of “the beautiful scene” at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. He’s watched games at the original Tiger Stadium and the ballparks in Montreal and Toronto.
He remembers specific details of a midsummer game at Fenway Park: David Ortiz hit a home run into the right-field bleachers, where Wolk was sitting, and Jon Lester pitched 7 2/3 perfect innings before surrendering a two-out double to the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young.
“It was just an average game in the middle of July,” Wolk said. “They (the Red Sox) weren’t having that great of a season. Big Papi (Ortiz) wasn’t playing well. …But you really got to feel Fenway. And it was a great moment.”
Jim Wolk grew up in Southern California as a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. He was a starting pitcher at Long Beach State.
His son prefers to play basketball.
“If I’m stressed out, I can go play basketball and it just helps me get at ease,” said Wolk, who played on his Peachtree Ridge High School basketball team. “Playing-wise, that was much more me. But I would not trade going to a baseball game for anything.”
Baseball isn’t just an away game for Wolk. Born in Springfield, Mo., to parents who were professors at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University), he attended Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals games as a young child.
An Atlanta resident since 1996, he has watched the Braves from nearly every viewpoint Turner Field offers.
“When you’re sitting behind home plate, you’re getting to see everything from one angle — you’re getting to see the Budweiser lounge in right field and the Coke lounge,” Wolk said. “When you’re sitting in center field, you can’t see any of those things, because your back’s to it. But you’re getting to see all the fans behind home plate and the press box area.”
When the Braves leave Turner for Cobb County in 2017, the Wolks will have a new stadium to explore.
For them, it will be the ideal “staycation.”