On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals will travel via Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a weekend series with the Phillies. The railroad road-trip will be the first time in over forty years the Cardinals have traveled via train.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak told NPR that both he and the players were looking forward to the trip. “It’s very unusual for us, but it was something we looked into and it seemed to make a lot of sense,” said Mozeliak. “Plus it ends up shaving a significant amount of time off our travel.”
The Cardinals will ride in three privatized train cars that will be added to the standard train for the one hour, forty-five minute journey.
For the many decades before the proliferation of commercial air travel, the preferred (and virtually only) mode of high-speed travel for Major League Baseball teams was the railroad. But in 1934, the Cincinnati Reds flew 19 of their players to Chicago for a series with the Cubs, making the Reds the first team to travel by airplane. A dozen years later the Yankees became the first team to do it on a regular basis.
Even then, travel by plane for baseball teams was not a common occurrence until the late 1950s when air travel became safer, cheaper and faster. This is also around the time that some East Coast teams began to relocate to California, almost necessitating travel by plane. Since then, teams have rarely looked back to the railroad, preferring to fly even the shortest of distances to away games.
But now that certain high-speed train routes in the U.S. are quicker and easier than those same routes are via plane, those conventions may be beginning to change, albeit slowly. And with $10 billion in stimulus money flowing to high-speed rail, it is quite possible that more Major League Baseball and other professional sports teams that travel thousands of miles per year will consider taking to the rails for some of their shorter road trips.
Image via J.H. Gray under a Creative Commons License