At 80 years old, Jim Rentschler still has a strong sense of wanderlust and adventure that has taken him all over the world. This summer, it took him to 30 major league baseball stadiums.
Against the wishes of his wife, Betty, and their four children, Rentschler planned an adventure that lasted more than four months and cost him upwards of $30,000.
"My wife and my kids really didn't want me to do it, because they said I'm too old," Rentschler said, laughing. "But I told my daughter that if I keel over in a baseball stadium, they'll know that I went happy."
Growing up in Frankfurt, Ind., Rentschler spent his days working at his father's barbershop. An AM radio kept them company and brought them together for every baseball game they could listen to.
"We always had the Chicago Cubs games on," Rentschler said with a hint of nostalgia. "Phil Cavarretta was one of my heroes growing up, and I got to meet him when I was about 13 years old. I was in hog heaven."
More than 50 years later, as a concierge at The Broadmoor hotel, a chance encounter with another baseball legend, Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller, got him in touch with Cavarretta. A few days later, Rentschler received a baseball signed by Cavarretta, and it's one of his most prized possessions.
Rentschler joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and began a 24-year career as a pilot and then as a computer systems developer with an assignment to the White House in the 1970s. He remembered meeting presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. An autographed picture of Ford hangs in his home. It reads: "Jim, thank you for all your work."
After retiring from the Air Force in 1977 as a lieutenant colonel, Rentschler spent the next two decades working in a number of jobs. He was a program manager for a corporation that handled government contracts. He worked for a prison fellowship ministry and oversaw computer systems for the American Gas Association.
In the mid-1990s, he and Betty moved to Colorado Springs and he immediately joined The Broadmoor, working his way up to concierge director.
"In 16 years at The Broadmoor, I never called in sick or missed a day of work," Rentschler said. "I loved working there. I met so many people and everyone was so nice."
Rentschler retired in 2011 to care for Betty, who was recovering from a hiking injury and back problems. Suddenly facing a quiet life of leisure, he became restless.
"This is the first time in my life that I haven't worked or had something to do," Rentschler said, relaxing on a rocking chair. "I need something to look forward to every morning when I wake up."
Going back to his roots and his love of baseball, Rentschler planned his travels to the 30 major league baseball stadiums, separating it by east, midwest, west, southwest and northwest regions. He meticulously put together itineraries with his wife, some planned by car and some by plane.
"I started out at the end of May and finished up at the end of September, at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field," Rentschler said. "When I walked into Wrigley Field, it looked exactly like it did when I went with my dad in 1945. I almost started crying, right there."
He's taking a break, but Rentschler's using the downtime to plan his next adventure - a summer-long fishing trip to Alaska with his family. As far as he's concerned, he's not slowing down while his health is good and he's got more memories to make with the people he loves.
"The way that I see it, there's no reason to feel sorry for yourself over something you can't control," Rentschler said. "Getting older is part of life, but I have had a full life, it's been good to me."