By Chris O'Connor,
Shortly after 4pm on Saturday, October 3rd, Chuck Booth slid into a blue spring-loaded seat at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. He was a few minutes late, having recently made the 100-mile trek from a noon Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore. As Chuck settled in for the Marlins-Phillies doubleheader, he made a mental checkmark: three games in one day. It would be a personal record.
A naturally verbose and upbeat man, Chuck inevitably began to speak with his neighbors. These lucky fans were in for a treat. They were sitting next to a legend, someone who had spent the last 182 days on the road and seen 223 baseball games at every major ballpark across the country. It was the second to last day of an epic trip that spanned the entire 2015 regular season. And the fans next to Chuck were probably debating whether or not to stay for the whole doubleheader.
Chuck’s baseball knowledge dwarfs even the most avid fans’, yet he doesn’t flaunt his acumen. He loves the game, and talks baseball for the sake of his passion. We’ve all spent a bus or plane ride trapped next to a chatty know-it-all, but that is never the experience with Chuck Booth. He is a pleasure to talk to and gives off a general aura of wellbeing and good intentions. But that hasn’t always been the case.
Chuck devoted his teenage years to the baseball diamond and football field. He threw himself into sports with the same passion that has carried him across the nation over the past year. However, his early athletic potential was jeopardized by a series of concussions both on and off the field that ultimately left him unable to play. All in all, Chuck recounts nine total concussions, one of which happened during an automobile accident in September of 2010.
Some of the symptoms from Chuck’s head traumas persist, although many have subsided or improved. He still battles dizzy spells, blurred vision, migraines, and sensitivity to light. However, these nuisances are a far cry from the man who once had to shut himself off from the world, a man that other people considered avoidant.
Chuck embarked on his journey across the country in part to recover from his most recent head trauma. With a dictate to take 6 months off from work, Chuck approached the problem proactively. He didn’t surrender into a concussed oblivion and let the symptoms rule him. Instead, he used the insurance settlement from his accident to tour the United States and do what he loves best: eat, breathe, and sleep baseball.
With a budget of just 100 dollars per game, Chuck made it work. His meager allowance proved sufficient for transportation, lodging, tickets, and food. Chuck attributes the daily grind of planning and putting one foot in front of the other as an essential factor in his progress. It has allowed him to reclaim his seat as the jovial fan that is a pleasure to be next to.
While on his admirable (and envy-inspiring) journey, Chuck helped promote awareness for his condition on behalf of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which he selected as his charity designation. Chuck spoke candidly about his experience and why concussion awareness is so important in dozens of interviews that have appeared in newspapers, television, and online.
Chuck’s bitter history with brain injuries is one that many ex-athletes can identify with. But his tale of therapeutic recovery-via-baseball – like that rare MLB tripleheader – is rather unique.