30 Fields, 1 Dream

Author: TAPS

Quiet moments alone on deployment create space in the mind for reflection, missing home, and planning for the future. While deployed and separated from his family in 2014, Air Force Colonel Ronald “Erick” (call sign Fangs) Gilbert used one such quiet moment to set an ambitious goal to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums with his family — wife, Kasia, and sons, Dane and Chase — before his oldest, Dane turned 18 in July 2024. At the heart of this grand plan was Erick’s dream of passing on his lifelong love of baseball to his sons while creating precious family memories to the soundtrack of roaring crowds at ballparks coast to coast.

On January 4, 2020, just two ballparks shy of fulfilling the dream, Erick passed away at the age of 43. Within the TAPS Family, we know that losing a loved one also means losing the future we planned for with them — the years we thought we had and the dreams we shared. That’s why teams4taps stepped in to help the Gilbert family finish what they set out to do with their beloved husband and father. Just one month before Dane’s 18th birthday — with generous support from the Tampa Bay Rays and the Miami Marlins — teams4taps not only brought the Gilbert family to the final two fields on their list, but the Gilbert boys threw out the first pitch at the Marlins game. It was a bittersweet ending to the journey they began with their dad and finished in his memory.

Learn More about the Gilbert's Incredible Journey

The nation watched as the Gilbert family visited their last ballparks in June. Read more about their incredible journey in the June 16th People magazine article, and watch their interviews on NBC Nightly News; and Foul Territory.

Colonel Gilbert and the Family's Ballpark Visits

Erick with son at little league game

Map of Major League Baseball locations

Gilbert Family at Baltimore Orioles game

Gilbert Family at Washington Nationals game

Gilbert Family at Pittsburgh Pirates game

Gilbert Family at Chicago Cubs game

Seeing Santa at Major League Baseball game

Banana Split at Arizona Diamond Backs game

Ordering Donuts at Saint Louis Cardinals game

Gilbert Family at Boston Red Sox game

Erick saying goodbye to boys

Colonel Gilbert flight uniform May 2019

Photos courtesy of Kasia Gilbert


Final 2 Ballparks, Tropicana Field and LoanDepot Park

Gilbert Boys Pitch at the Mound

Kasia, and sons, Dane and Chase LoanDepot Park

Photos: TAPS Archives