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Blind fan's ballpark tour reaches Chase Field

Any true Major League Baseball fan should have the goal of visiting every MLB ballpark high on his or her bucket list. Stepping into the iconic baseball cathedrals such as Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field should be experienced by everyone.

While this is a dream that will never come true for most, for blind baseball fan Reggie Deal, it is very much a reality.

Starting on April 29 at Rangers Ballpark, Deal began completing his dream of attending a baseball game at every Major League ballpark. On Saturday, Deal made a stop at Chase Field.

"This is something I've wanted to do for a while," Deal said. "It's always been a bucket-list item I've wanted to check off."

Deal's visit to Chase Field was his 14th ballpark on the trip, and he said he was impressed with the D-backs' home stadium.

30 Parks, 30 Days
A blind fan's journey through the Major Leagues
April 29: Rangers Ballpark, Arlington
April 30: Minute Maid Park, Houston
May 1: Turner Field, Atlanta
May 2: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
May 3: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
May 4: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg
May 5: Citi Field, New York
May 6: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
May 7: Oriole Park, Baltimore
May 8: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
May 9: Yankee Stadium, New York
May 10: Fenway Park, Boston
May 11: Target Field, Minneapolis
May 12: Chase Field, Phoenix
May 13: The Coliseum, Oakland
May 14: AT&T Park, San Francisco
May 15: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
May 16: Petco Park, San Diego
May 17: Angel Stadium, Anaheim
May 18: Rogers Centre, Toronto
May 19: Comerica Park, Detroit
May 20: Coors Field, Denver
May 21: Safeco Field, Seattle
May 22: Miller Park, Milwaukee
May 23: Progressive Field, Cleveland
May 24: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
May 25: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
May 26: Marlins Park, Miami
May 27: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
May 28: Wrigley Field, Chicago

"[Chase Field] just feels like a baseball park," Deal said while sitting in the D-backs' home dugout. "I've always liked this place."

Deal, 38, was born prematurely in 1973, and doctors told his parents that his chance of surviving was around 25 percent. He was placed in an incubator so his lungs could heal and develop. Even though the incubator helped him breathe, the prolonged exposure to the 90 percent pure oxygen caused his retinas to hemorrhage and detach from his eyes, blinding him.

While he may not be able to see the sights of baseball, attending a Major League Baseball game is an incredible experience.

After the game, D-backs representatives gave Deal a field-level tour of the ballpark so he could get the full experience. Deal walked around the warning track and felt the wall all along the way. Being able to get a tactile sensation helps Deal learn more about his surroundings.

"Being able to go down to field level and see the configuration of the ballpark is pretty cool," Deal said. "The sharp corners in the outfield are pretty unique. I'm sure the outfielders see some crazy bounces."

As he made his way near home plate, Deal made sure to take a minute to feel the infield dirt and grass. As he held the dirt in his hand, the smile on his face couldn't be any bigger. And if that wasn't enough to make his day, Deal was allowed to run the bases after his tour.

With a D-backs representative leading the way, Deal ran around the base paths. Just like the players he cheers on, Deal was living out his lifelong dream, if only for a few moments.

"I've run bases before, but not 90 feet, station to station," Deal said as he tried to catch his breath." I tend to put everything into it, but I'm not in the same running shape I was in 20 years ago. I was starting to feel it running into third."

Deal said he really enjoyed his visit to Chase Field, and after speaking with him for just a few minutes, it was apparent how big a baseball fan Deal is. Out of all the major sports, he said baseball is most appealing to him because of the strategy.

"You can go to five football games and they could all end up with the same score," he explained. "The scores are all the same. In baseball, there are so many ways to score, that's what makes it so exciting to watch."

Over 30 days, Deal will stop at every ballpark during his incredible journey. Whether by plane, train or automobile, Deal will trek across North America and will enjoy every minute of it. He will also be using this time to promote awareness of ThyCa (The Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association) -- a cause close to his heart.

In June 2008, Deal was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A few weeks later, doctors performed surgery to remove his thyroid. After a week of post-op, doctors cleared him to start traveling again. Once he was given a clean bill of health, he decided to embark on his 30-day MLB journey.

Deal is now cancer-free and is enjoying the opportunity to be a part of an amazing fan experience. He is almost halfway through his trip and said this has been an experience of a lifetime.

Arizona Diamondbacks