Friday, October 10, 2014

The U.S. 40 League Championship Series

San Francisco, Kansas City, St. Louis and Baltimore are the only remaining teams in the MLB postseason.  For baseball fans, these teams offer a nice mix of familiar faces in the postseason with the Cardinals and the Giants and San Francisco and teams that haven’t been to a World Series in decades, the Orioles and the Royals. And there’s something else that these four teams offer fans—the opportunity to see them all play by traveling on the same highway—U.S. 40.

Historic U.S. 40 ran through each of those cities. US Route 40 now terminates on the west at Park City, Utah, but before the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, U.S. 40 began just a few blocks north of AT&T Park in San Francisco. U.S. 40 was also known as the “Victory Highway," which seems to be appropriate this year, from San Francisco to St. Louis before U.S. route numbers were established in 1926. In fact, the intersection of K-7 and Parallel Parkway near Basehor is called “Victory Junction." 

From Baltimore to just east of St. Louis, U.S. 40 was known as “The National Road," a road trail similar to the Lincoln Highway that allowed early motorists to find their way across the country. The National Road was the first federally funded highway back in 1806. So, back in the early 1920s, an adventurous driver might have followed guidebooks to navigate from Baltimore to San Francisco on the National Road and the Victory Highway, not knowing that in 2014 San Francisco, known then as the New York Giants, would reach the NLCS by way of their victory over the Nationals. This motorist would have driven right down 6th Street, a block north of the Eisenhower Building, KDOT headquarters Topeka on the 3,000 mile journey, and they might have stopped for gasoline in Sharon Springs, WaKeeney, Solomon, or Wamego. More realistically, one would have taken a train from coast to coast because it was much faster, remember, no interstates or freeways.

Before being replaced for most of its length by Interstates 70 and 80, U.S. 40 was a major trade route connecting not only the championship cities, but also Salt Lake City, Denver, Indianapolis, and even continuing to New York City from Baltimore.

It’s a Hall of Fame worthy highway you might say. Now we will just have to wait and see which team turns in a historic performance that lives up to the highway that connects them all.

Did you know?

  •   Alberto Castillo, Sidney Ponson, and Steve Scarsone are the only players to play for all four teams at some point in their careers.

  • St. Louis is the only city that had a major league team in 1950.  The Orioles (formerly the St. Louis Browns) moved to Baltimore in 1953.  The Giants moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958.  And the Kansas City Royals became an expansion team in 1969.

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