How this Guardians superfan is hoping to make all 162 games

April 5th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mandy Bell’s Guardians Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Guardians made an incredible run last season, but they want to prove they can take a step forward in 2023 -- the same mantra Peter Knab is taking into the year.

You remember Knab, right? One of these newsletters last September was dedicated to explaining his journey. If you need a refresher, he was born with cerebral palsy in 1996 and was determined to not let his disability get in the way of attending as many Guardians games as he could last season. Sure, he faces challenges when traveling alone in his wheelchair, but he uses it as motivation to prove that it can be done.

Oh, and he’s the ultimate Guardians fan, too. He attended 129 games in 2022, including the postseason, and now, he wants to do even more.

“The theme for the Guardians this year is unfinished business, right?” Knab said. “Well, I mean, I did a lot more than I could’ve ever thought last year. But I missed some, too. So now, I’m going for the ultimate prize of 162.”

That’s a feat that would be difficult for anyone, let alone someone who has to do “advanced scouting” (as he calls it) to figure out how to navigate a new city in his wheelchair. But the biggest problem was going to be budgeting his money to be able to afford doing all of this travel.

Or so he thought.

Originally, Knab was reaching out to youth hostels to try to set up a deal to stay in cities when he arrives for an away series. He started a GoFundMe to raise money to support his passion. But a flight he took in October ended up taking all of his financial stress away.

I forgot to mention … you may also remember Knab from throwing out the first pitch before Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series in October at Progressive Field. Between that and the media attention he started gaining for his courageous endeavors, a man on the plane heading to New York for Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS recognized Knab.  
That man was David Coury, CEO of a Cleveland-based pharmaceutical company, Specialty Networks. Coury, too, is a Guardians fan, and wanted to talk to Knab about his crazy travels. Knab explained his favorite parts of the season, and eventually, the two realized the hotels they were heading to were right near each other. So, they decided to share an Uber from the airport. 
“It started out as paying for an Uber,” Knab said. “It turned into much more than that.” 
Coury was inspired by Knab’s passion and fearlessness, as anyone would be after talking with him for just a few minutes. Coury told Knab to keep in touch. Deeper into the offseason, Knab let Coury know that he was committed to trying to go to all 162 games, but he was not expecting the response he got from Coury.  
Coury let Knab know that he wanted to cover all of Knab’s travel expenses for the upcoming year to help him reach this goal.  
“What are the odds of just meeting someone on a plane and it turning into that?” Knab said.

Coury had already lent Knab a hand in November, paying to have his smart drive (essentially an engine on his wheelchair that helps give him a boost so his arms don’t have to do all the work all the time) fixed on his chair. Without that, he couldn’t have considered this journey.

Not having the financial burden of this trek was one big stressor off Knab’s plate. Still, this entire process won’t be seamless when he’s traveling alone. He’s already run into a conflict when an airline in Seattle didn’t have the right staffers available to help him get on the plane, causing the flight to be delayed for more than an hour. But that doesn’t prevent him from expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to go on this journey every chance he gets.

“Some of the most memorable times of my life have all involved this organization,” Knab said. “And that means a lot to me. … Just the concept that I can do this is very humbling to think about.”

Knab wheeled his way into T-Mobile Park on Friday for the second game of the Guardians’ opening series. He was parked at the top of a section behind home plate and fans came over to say hi, remembering him from when he was there in August. He thought back on those 129 games he enjoyed last year and was proud of what he was able to accomplish -- something he never would’ve believed possible five years ago.

But he knows he’s ready for more. And just as his own form of motivation with 160 more games ahead of him, Knab went on Facebook and posted a quote from Guardians manager Terry Francona last October after his team was eliminated from the postseason.

“He said, ‘2022 has to be a stepping stone for us,’” Knab said. “And, you know, 129 had to be a stepping stone for me."