St. Louis rabbi closes in on goal of visiting all major league ballparks


Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham. Photo by Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan, Special For The Jewish Light

A trip to all 30 MLB stadiums is one of America’s favorite travel quests. It’s definitely the holy grail for any baseball fan. Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham is only a few ballparks short of the goal. When he’s not performing rabbinical duties at Congregation B’nai Amoona, Abraham is probably thinking about baseball. His office is filled with bobbleheads and banners, many of which bear the logo of his beloved New York Yankees.

In July, Abraham and his two older sons Benny, 11, and Henry, 9, hit the road to check off four more ballparks. The goal of making it to every stadium has been simmering for a couple of decades.

“Nineteen years ago, my younger brother went with two of his friends on a road trip to all 30 stadiums in one summer,” said Abraham, 39. “I was incredibly jealous. By 2010, I’d gotten to 22 of the stadiums. But then we started having children, and I became a rabbi and life got very busy, so I put the whole thing on pause, knowing that I’d get back to it eventually.

”In early 2020, it seemed attainable — until COVID. This month, the Abrahams finally took to the open road again.


“My quest to get to every baseball stadium is inching closer now, as I have only three baseball stadiums left: Tampa Bay and the new stadiums in Miami and Atlanta, although I’ve been to the old Miami and Atlanta stadiums,” Abraham said. “Of course, my boys now want to go on their own quest to get to every stadium. They’ve already gotten to 11, so they’re well on their way.”

Baseball and sports have always played an important role in the Abraham family, even from previous generations.

“We talk in Judaism l’dor v’dor, and passing things on from generation to generation, and baseball in my family is very much part of that,” Abraham said. “My grandfather passed it down to my father. My father passed it down to me. And I’ve now passed it down to my boys, which seems kind of natural.”

Abraham, who played second base in youth baseball, also holds the distinction of being an official rabbi of the Israeli national baseball team. His three sons are avid baseball fans. (Joey, 5, is the youngest Abraham, and he’s getting more interested, too.) Abraham’s wife, Lauren, is a sports fan, but she’s partial to football.

“She grew up in Texas,” he said. “Everything you read about ‘Friday Night Lights’ is true. The Dallas Cowboys are their life. Baseball really isn’t her sport, but she’s a very supportive spouse and goes along for some of the fun.”

For anyone considering the MLB stadium tour, Abraham recommends planning ahead. Baseball teams release their schedules about seven months before the season begins, so there’s plenty of time to rough out an itinerary. Part of the fun, he said, includes figuring out which restaurants to visit (there were 42 kosher options to choose from when they arrived in Toronto). Each ballpark has its own quirks and charms, too. Abraham’s favorite is also the oldest in the major leagues.

“It pains me to say this as a Yankees fan, but my favorite stadium I’ve been to is Fenway Park [in Boston],” he said. Fenway and the history, there’s something that was really amazing.”

Benny and Henry Abraham appreciate the nuances of baseball, like their father. They’ve also become adept at securing player autographs and game-used balls. They know how to schmooze with the players, and they study techniques and the best “They’ve gotten very good at convincing ball.”Going to ballgames with his boys is also a side benefit of finishing off the 30-ballpark tour, Abraham said. “I think getting to do it now with my kids has been the best part,” he “Second is Milwaukee. I really liked Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but the feeling you get at locations in various ballparks by watching YouTube videos dedicated to the craft.

“They’ve gotten very good at convincing players to toss them the ball,” Abraham said. “The players, especially between innings or during warmups, they’ll just toss the ball up to the stands. And so my kids figured out, OK, I’m going to talk to the players, and then they know where to stand so that they are in the area where the ball gets tossed. A lot of the games we got seats by the bullpen, and bullpen guys are always happy to toss up a ball.”

Going to ballgames with his boys is also a side benefit of finishing off the 30-ballpark tour, Abraham said.

“I think getting to do it now with my kids has been the best part,” he said. “I never envisioned that when I started. But getting to and seeing baseball through their eyes, that’s been the most enjoyable.”