SUPER FAN: The ultimate summer road trip makes a stop in Columbia

Special to The StateMay 2, 2014 

What would make a middle-age man from Wisconsin quit his well-paying job in medical sales, embark on a journey that will span the United States and take him to at least one baseball game per day from mid-February through the final out at the World Series this fall?

The first thought for most: It’s a preposterous idea.

Or to take it a step further – is this gentleman losing grip with reality or having a mid-life crisis?

It’s none of the above.

It’s all about passion, drive and love of the game.

John Reimer is living his dream.

“It was one of those things that I always wanted to do. I wanted to do something in baseball. I was working a job that I had become unhappy with,” Reimer said.

“You have to live your happiness. You have to be happy in life. It’s bucking the society norm. I could have stayed in my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to do it. Some people think I’m crazy or nuts. You only live once, and I’m not getting younger. So, if not now, when? That has been the motivating factor. People might call it a mid-life crisis, but it’s not. I talked to a lot of people and put a lot of thought into this before deciding to do it.”

Reimer recently made a sweep through the Palmetto State. It started last Saturday with a stop in Clemson for the Tigers’ game against Miami. He followed that with Lexington-Greenville in a South Atlantic League game on Sunday, Lexington High-A.C. Flora in Columbia on Monday and another South Atlantic League game on Tuesday between Augusta at Charleston. His was in Athens, Ga., Friday night for South Carolina-Georgia.

“I get to meet all these new and interesting people,” Reimer said. “I get to find out what the United States is about for myself, not what I see and hear on the news.”

The idea for this trip started this past summer. Reimer’s father had triple bypass surgery, and the legacy of one’s life became a topic. So the father asked his son, if money was not an object, what would you do with your life?

Reimer, who is divorced and has a daughter completing her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, said it didn’t take long for him to decide what he wanted to do.

“My answer is I would travel around the country because I want to see it, I would go to a baseball game every day and I would blog about the experience because I like to write,” Reimer said.

After much thought, discussion and planning with his family, he put in his notice at work.

He has a website – baseballbuddha.com – that he updates daily. You can buy merchandise or donate money to help with his expenses. The outpouring of support has taken Reimer by surprise.

“It hasn’t cost as much as I thought it would,” he said. “When people give me money, I want to be responsible with it. I’m living a dream, and I think a lot of people are living vicariously through me. I want to finish this for them as much as me.”

He takes his 2004 Black Lexus ES330 that has 184,000 miles on it from city to city. He will see all 30 major league parks and many minor league stadiums before the end of the year. He has attended recreational league, high school, college, minor league and major league games thus far. His stop in Columbia on Monday was his 80th game in 74 days.

The trip has been costly. He has used money he saved, gotten support from his brother and has some sponsorships. But Reimer lives frugally.

“It’s not a burden right now,” Reimer said of his expenses. “I’ve been very lucky. Financially, I can make it comfortably to July. I need to raise some more money, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”

He rarely stays in a hotel. If he arrives after 10 p.m., his prime sleeping spot is inside his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He didn’t stay in Columbia on Monday night, but he did make a stop at the Carolina Crossfit that afternoon to get in a workout and shower before attending the A.C. Flora-Lexington game.

He arrived in Charleston after midnight and spent the night in his car. But with the temperature and humidity rising, he’s beginning to rethink his plans of not getting a nightly hotel room. If he does elect to check-in, it’s usually a Motel 6 to keep costs reasonable.

A workout fanatic, living a healthy lifestyle has been the biggest challenge.

“Eating healthy on the road is the hardest thing to do, but you can do it,” Reimer said. “I drink a lot of smoothies and have for years. I drink a lot of water. You always look for the healthier things on the menu. I have gained a little weight, but I’ve kept the chips and comfort food to a minimum on the road.”

Reimer doesn’t have any plans after the season. If it ends after one season, he’s accomplished something he’s always wanted to do. But if he can find a way to continue next season, he will. Regardless of the outcome, 2014 will be something Reimer will look back at fondly.

“I love this,” he said.

“I acted on my dream.”

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