Home Diocesan News Youngstown mother-daughter duo have a passion for following the Tribe – literally!
Youngstown mother-daughter duo have a passion for following the Tribe – literally! Print E-mail
Written by Marly Kosinski, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 16 June 2017 14:11

AUSTINTOWN – The Toth family loves baseball, and their passion for the Cleveland Indians is evident all around their home.

 


There are display cases filled with signed baseballs, bobbleheads and other memorabilia, as well as huge photo albums filled with autographs, photos and ticket stubs. Jeff Toth, a school resource officer here, his wife, Shelly, and their older daughter, Christina, a math teacher at Ravenna High School, bond over batting averages, ERAs and other player statistics.

 


But the mother-daughter duo has parlayed their passion into summer vacations in which the two women enjoy not only baseball, but also other tourist attractions such as aquariums, restaurants and shopping. And, the trips allow for bonding time between Shelly, 57, and Christina, 37.


“I have been an Indians fan for 30 years,” Shelly said. “I played baseball and softball in school and so did Chris and her younger sister, Amy. So rooting for the Indians has always been a family tradition.”


Christina said one of her best memories is having attended the first Tribe game played at Jacobs Field – later renamed Progressive Field – when she was 14 years old. (Before 1994, the Indians played in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which because of its enormous size, often dwarfed the crowds that attended there, making games at “the Jake” more exciting for many fans.)


“I missed softball practice at Fitch to go, which is a big no-no. But when my coach found out why I was missing practice, he told me to go because that would be a once in a lifetime experience,” Christina said.


Shelly noted that each summer she and Jeff attend up to 36 home games at Progressive Field, where they are season ticket holders. They also attend minor league games for Indians farm teams, including the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Akron Rubber Ducks, Lake County Captains and the Columbus Clippers.


Christina goes to the home games if Shelly or Jeff cannot attend. But it is the destination trips with her mom that she said she enjoys the most. Every year, Christina gets a supplemental contract to teach summer school and she has worked both summer sessions for the past 16 years. Since 2014, she has used the extra money to pay for the baseball trips.


“I told my mom I would never be able to afford to buy her a house or a car with my salary, but I could at least take her on a vacation every summer,” Christina said.


Their first trip was in July 2014 to Minnesota, where they watched the Indians play the Twins. They also got an official stadium tour and received a special certificate signifying it was their first time at the stadium.


“It was 54 degrees for the All-Star game the week before we arrived. When we were there, it was between 94 and 97 every day,” Shelly smiled.


They also visited the Mall of America, an underground aquarium on the mall grounds and Bubba Gump’s, which has become Christina’s favorite restaurant.


“Bubba Gump’s is everywhere. And going to the [local] aquarium has kind of become our thing when we go on these trips,” Christina said.


In June 2015, the women headed to Chicago. Christina said the Indians had not played the Cubs at Wrigley Field in 18 years, making the women’s decision on which away game to attend easy. However, the trip almost didn’t happen because the Ravenna schools had to make up four snow days that summer and if the district had one more day to make up, Christina would not have been able to go.


In another ironic twist, their 6 a.m. flight was canceled and they did not fly out of Pittsburgh until later, landing in Chicago at 8 p.m. Because of the delay, Southwest Airlines granted them an extra day at the tail end of their trip. The game they were supposed to attend got canceled because of a tornado warning, but they still managed to attend a game later in the week thanks to the 14-hour delay.


“Of course, we had to pay for an extra night at the hotel … but that was an amazing experience because the night of the tornado warning, the Chicago Blackhawks won the national hockey championship, so we got to see the victory parade in  downtown Chicago,” Shelly said.


Christina said the temperature in Chicago was only in the 50s, but they refused to buy Cubs sweatshirts, so they froze at the stadium. The pair also did some sightseeing, visiting the Navy Pier and the aquarium, as well as shopping on the Miracle Mile and eating at Bubba Gump’s.


In July 2015, Shelly and Christina went to Cincinnati to watch the Indians play the Reds. It was a two-day, one-night trip, but they stayed at the same hotel as the players and ended up swimming in the hotel pool with the children of the Indians pitching coach.


In July 2016, the duo went to Baltimore to watch Cleveland take on the Orioles.


“What a beautiful stadium,” Christina said, noting that they took the official stadium tour there as well.


But the trip did not go as planned. Southwest canceled thousands of flights last summer because of a strike and they found out when they got to the airport at 4 a.m. that their flight had been canceled, too, even though Christina received a confirmation text at midnight that it was still on schedule.


“We had decided while waiting in line at the ticket counter that we would drive if Southwest could not get us a flight out that day because we had tickets for the game and some other events. We ended up driving, but we were not prepared at all. We had no snacks, no water and we were not dressed for a drive. Plus, we did not have any CDs except for a 90s mix CD that we listened to the whole way,” Christina laughed.


They ended up getting to Baltimore sooner than they would have if they had flown and met one of Christina’s former students for dinner in Washington, D.C.


“I love seafood, so I was in heaven there,” she said.


This summer, Shelly and Christina are heading to San Francisco July 14-19. The Indians are playing the Giants and the Oakland A’s back to back, so they will get to take a tour of both stadiums, which are only 12 miles apart.


“Plus, there is an aquarium in San Francisco, and of course, a Bubba Gump’s,” Christina grinned.


Last fall, Christina went to a playoff game against Toronto because her dad had knee surgery and couldn’t make the trip. She and Shelly also went to Game 1 of the World Series against Chicago.


“I used money I had set aside for snow tires to buy the tickets,” Christina said. “We got the season ticket holder rate, so it was not as outrageous as what other people paid for tickets. I was shown on TV and I also made it on the giant screen at Progressive Field, so that was neat.”


Shelly said some day she would like to attend Indians spring training in Arizona. But for now, she is looking forward to another thrilling season at Progressive Field and is excited about the upcoming trip to California.


The Toths are members of Holy Apostles Parish in Youngstown.

 
 

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