Chase Lee (Alabama) and Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) at the Bethesda Metro Station.
On the mound, pitchers Chase Lee (Alabama) and Dalton Ponce (St. Mary’s CA) have been among the most dominant arms in the Cal Ripken League this summer. Off the field, they are just like any other American kid. Rather than sitting at home and playing video games on their off days, the two pitchers have spent their time away from the diamond to take in several sights around the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
It all started with a simple text. Lee texted in a group chat that included every Big Train player on the 2019 roster seeking someone to do sightseeing with. Ponce answered the text, and from there the two spent nearly all their off time exploring the area.
Lee had never been on any sort of subway system before, and Ponce had only used the New York Subway once, years prior, but that didn't stop the two from using the Metro to travel around the Nation's Capital.
"Chase was the navigator, I was just in it for the ride," Ponce said, adding later that "the Metro was a life saver" and that "scooters are a must" for exploring downtown.
The pair said they had taken in at least 25 of the areas tourist attractions either together or with their families.
With the summer winding down, the two sat down with Big Train founder Bruce Adams to talk about their experiences and compile a list of attractions that they feel any future Big Train player or Cal Ripken League member should visit.
Here’s a look at the list in no specific order:
Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington, Virginia
Great Falls Park. Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia
Marine Corps Museum. Triangle, Virginia
The Spy Museum. 700 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC
National Mall At Night. Washington, DC
National Archives Museum. Washington, DC
United States Capitol Building Tour. Washington, DC
American History Museum at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon, Virginia
Orioles Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore, Maryland
In addition to this list, the players elaborated on their three personal favorites.
3. Great Falls Park: Chase Lee’s third favorite attraction was Great Falls Park. Lee said he loved the outdoor attractions. "The trails out to the river made me feel like I was back at home [in Alabama]… the locks and dams were built as we would build them today.”
2. Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery: The changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery came in second for Lee. He said it was an honor to watch and pay respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
1. National Mall at night: Lee’s favorite DMV adventure was seeing the national mall at night. He was amazed by the beauty of it. "Everything is lit up -- the monuments and memorials, the lights reflecting off the Reflecting Pool."
3. Lincoln Memorial: Located in the national mall, the Lincoln Memorial is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world. Ponce was in awe of the memorial saying, “You see it in movies, and being there is just surreal.” It cracks his top three due to the view from the monument he called “breathtaking.”
2. The Spy Museum: Dedicated to the history of undercover work Ponce ranked the Spy Museum as his second favorite DMV attraction. He felt the museums took him into a “completely different universe” and was almost as if he was in a virtual reality.
1. Marine Corps Museum: For Ponce, nothing topped the Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, Virginia. Despite being a bit of a long ride, Ponce says the trip was well worth it. He said the museum made him feel as if he was “in battle with the soldiers.”
In reflection, Lee and Ponce offered simple advice for future Big Train players. "Go explore. I got to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial," Ponce said. "I didn't want to spend time in the basement."
"I wanted to learn," Lee added.
The DMV has a lot to offer. The sightseeing and historical nature of the area make it an attractive place for any college ballplayer to want to play in the Cal Ripken League, and these two star Big Train hurlers made sure they took full advantage of it.