Angel Gonzalez bleeds Dodger blue.
The second-generation Mexican-American, born and raised north of Los Angeles, has traveled the world, but his heart always hearkens back to his days spent under the sun at Dodger Stadium.
Growing up around his grandfather, who emigrated from Mexico in true “American Dream” fashion, rising through the ranks from field worker to restaurateur, Gonzalez spent his summers watching baseball. As the youngest sibling in a large family, Angel enjoyed the perks of being the tag-along. His grandpa would finish work, clean up, then grab his youngest grandson and head to the ballpark. The smell of hot dogs, the salty singe of peanuts, and the golden tones of Vin Scully echoing from a dusty, handheld radio seared timeless memories in his brain and shaped his foundation. Baseball – Dodgers baseball – was ingrained in his DNA.
As he matured through his teens, Gonzalez answered the call to defend freedom and enlisted in the U.S. Army. After four years at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, he embarked on a military career that would send him around the world several times over. He developed an affinity for working on helicopters, and his mnemonic sense of numeric recollection served well in providing logistical support as an enlisted soldier and later as a contractor in Kuwait.
“I’ve always been nomadic, it’s just in my nature,” Gonzalez said. “Working overseas, I was ready to come home, and joining Endeavor got me back to a place where I could finally settle down.”
He joined the Maintenance Planning team just over two years ago, bringing structured leadership to a team that had experienced significant change in the time prior to his arrival.
“There was a high turnover rate in our team, we were disjointed between [night and day] shifts, but that’s changed,” added Gonzalez. “We’ve got standard operating procedures in place, we’ve adjusted our schedules, and our plan has evolved to the point where we’re ahead of the pack.”
Gonzalez mentioned a comfort level in his current role that fits his skill set nicely. He credits the Endeavor Engineering team for its foresight in procuring components ahead of schedule so technicians in the field are ready to step up to the plate.
“The leadership here gives us the support we need. We didn’t feel like a team in the first few months that I was here, but now our lineup is pretty robust.”
And that gives Gonzalez something he didn’t have working as a contractor in the Middle East – peace of mind and freedom to enjoy his time outside of work. Much the way his grandpa would take him out to the ballpark, Gonzalez started to enjoy the perks of working at Endeavor to pursue his passion for the Dodgers.
“With the travel benefits, I wanted to try and catch the Dodgers on all of their road trips. I didn’t start until a few months into the season, I would hit a few games here or there. Then…” Gonzalez paused and smiled. “It sort of spiraled out of control.”
Angel Gonzalez’s stadium tour didn’t start as a stadium tour. He simply wanted to follow his beloved boyhood team. By using the MLB Baseball app on his smart phone, he noticed something interesting. He had visited 12 MLB stadiums…then 15…then 25. The calendar turned to September and the season was winding down, but Gonzalez got the idea that he should knock out the final five stadiums to make it a 30 for 30 quest before the playoffs swung into action.
“A few weeks ago, I started cross-checking schedules to see if I could actually do it.”
Pittsburgh. Atlanta. Baltimore. Oakland. Chicago (U.S. Cellular, home of the White Sox). His plan suddenly had a path. A self-described master of non-rev travel, he plotted his course, packed up his bag, and wrapped up his work for the week.
He landed in Pittsburgh in time to cross the famed Roberto Clemente Bridge across the Allegheny River before the first pitch; then he made his way to the newest ballpark in MLB – Atlanta’s SunTrust Park – for a Saturday match up; then up to Baltimore to a Sunday matinee before heading home to Minneapolis for work on Monday. He took an afternoon flight on Tuesday to hit the Oakland Coliseum, flew the red-eye back overnight, then plotted his course to hit Chicago that coming weekend.
“As I crossed through the gates into U.S. Cellular Stadium, I let out a little shout and pumped my fist in the air,” Gonzalez admitted. “I never really spent a lot on tickets, but this one was special. My seat was right behind the first base dugout. It was a great game, the fans were into it, my last stadium…just icing on the cake.”
With this adventure officially in the books, what’s next on Gonzalez’s travel horizon?
“I need to get to the seventh continent. I can’t wait to travel down to Chile and take that boat ride across,” he concluded. “With the money I’ll save on baseball games, I should be able to make this a reality soon.”
That’s what we call swinging for the travel fences. Congrats, Angel, on this epic journey.