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tuscumbia, missouri lies hard by the osage river at the mouth of shutin creek. founded in 1837, this village of 250 (plus or minus) is the seat of miller county -- and, we learned last month, the heart of an even greater domain. per Humbug Journal, tuscumbia inhabits the geographic center of the 30 major-league baseball stadiums. the precise location lies outside of town, across the river on pea ridge road, but it's still a tuscumbia address. here's a satellite image of this esteemed locale.

before you leave the satellite image, check out the longitude / latitude boxes just to the left of the photo. if you paste or type in the following coordinates (note the minus sign and the decimal points)

latitude: -92.45392
longitude: 38.22212

you get a shot of pea ridge road coming in from the east (right) side of the map and bending slowly south, down to the bottom of the page. somewhere right along in that stretch, on the shores of dog creek, lies the very center of the mlb map. if you zoom out one screen you can orient pea ridge road to tuscumbia. the town now appears at the very top of the image; pea ridge road's across the osage to the south and a little east.

in addition to occupying the center of bud selig's kingdom, tuscumbia appears to sit right in the middle of missouri; check out the little map on tuscumbia's wikipedia page. hard to tell at this scale whether the town lies closer to kansas city or to st louis -- ie, closer to kauffman stadium or to busch. one of these two ballparks lies closer to the geographic heart of the game than any other. which one holds the honor?

only mapquest knows for sure.

to get to pea ridge road from busch iii (and yes, mapquest really does distinguish between the old stadium and the new one), you pick up south i-55 off of spruce street and then branch onto i-44, which you follow 95 miles or so to st. james, mo. get off at jefferson street (missouri 68) and follow it north approx 12 miles to US 63; continue north to vienna and hang a left there on missouri 42. stay on that road all the way to iberia (about 23 miles), then turn right (north) on missouri 17; now you're getting close. go 12.8 miles on that road and make a left onto finch road (aka county road F2). that'll dead-end at missouri highway F; hang a left and drive upstream a ways. you're on pea ridge road, baby; congrats.

total elapsed distance from busch iii: 160.23 miles.

the distance from kauffman to pea ridge isn't even close -- 185.32 miles. hurrah -- busch wins! but just a second: mapquest sends you on a circuitous route from kc that stays on i-70 all the way to columbia and then drops precipitously south through jeff city and on into tuscumbia. it's probably the fastest way to go, since you maximize the interstate mileage -- but we're not looking for the fastest route. we're looking for the shortest one. and that would seem to follow U.S. 50 through knob noster (home of this hard-throwing righty; remember his one glorious season?) and sedalia. when you get to california, you make a right on missouri 87 and head south into eldon. from there you get on missouri 52 heading south and take it through west aurora and on into tuscumbia. at this point it gets a little tricky; you cross the osage on missouri 17/52, then bear right on 17 at the fork and right again at highway F. that's pea ridge road; you've made it.

by this more direct route, it's only about 155 miles from kauffman to tuscumbia proper; but by the time you cross the river and find pea ridge road, you've tacked another five and a half miles onto the journey, bringing the total elapsed distance from kauffman stadium to (drum rollllllll) 161.54 miles.

boy, what a cliffhanger; busch is closer by one lonely mile. here's a map of the victorious route; click on the image to get an enlarged version.

the folks in tuscumbia seem surprised and delighted to learn of this important news. more about that tomorrow.