When it comes to sports venues, Rich O’Malley has seen it all. Literally, he’s seen all of them.
The former executive editor of the New York Daily News, ex-Newsday reporter and past amNewYork editor is one of a handful of sports fanatics to have attended a home game for every team in the four major North American sports leagues: NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB.
O’Malley chronicles the trials and travails of his journey to 155 venues in all (including those no longer in use) in his new book "One Lucky Fan: From Bleachers to Box Seats, Chasing the Ultimate Sports Dream to Visit All 123 MLB, NBA, NFL & NHL Teams," which releases June 4. And, pointedly, although he offers suggestions for fans seeking to replicate his feat, he doesn’t necessarily recommend it.
“I want people to see the places they’ve always dreamed of,” the Queens native told amNewYork earlier this month. “Go see Lambeau Field. Go see Wrigley Field. Whatever. I don’t think the kind of trip I took to finish off my complete set, if you will, is the right thing to do if you’re trying to enjoy the games themselves. My trip was insane. It makes for some good stories along the way, but it was grueling.”
O’Malley, who now lives in Philadelphia, gives readers his thoughts on a number of venues and teams, including his personal faves: the Yankees, Jets, Devils and St. John’s hoops. He ranks all 30 MLB ballparks — only one of the two locals makes the top 10 — and gives his thoughts on the best and worst NFL venues, saving his biggest critiques for MetLife Stadium across the Hudson River.
The author made most of his stadium visits on roadtrips with friends over the course of a 25-year period, but he “checked off” the 40 teams remaining on his list (of 123 total) with a whirlwind 40-game, 25,000-mile, 53-day, cross-continent gauntlet in the fall and winter of 2017-18. Essentially, "One Lucky Fan" is a travelogue for the sports-obsessed, and not everything goes smoothly even with the planning skills of a savvy traveler.
However, it’s the moments of missing home and his ever-patient wife Christy that make the book a charming take on North American sports culture.
“I want readers to conjure up a memory of a game they went to in their lifetimes and think about, ‘What else do I want to achieve as a sports fan?’ " O’Malley said. “Where can I go to take my love of a team or sport to the next level, or to pass it along to kids or grandkids?”