After one of the worst winters on record, we’re finally enjoying some nicer weather! With baseball season now in full swing (pardon the pun), you might be thinking about taking the family to a baseball game. Ah—the joys of sharing a hot dog with your kids, cheering on the home team in the beautiful outdoors as you put thoughts of winter behind you and rediscover America’s national pastime. Major League Baseball (MLB) games can offer your family a memorable experience, but you can also enjoy the same family fun at a bargain price by attending one of many minor league baseball games across the country.
One of the great joys of being a parent is sharing the things that you love with your kids. If you’re a baseball fan, attending a game should certainly be one of those things. My dad and my stepfather were both huge Phillies fans, as am I. I remember growing up listening to games on the radio, as well as stretching out on the couch with my family to catch a game on TV on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon. But there was (and still is) nothing quite like actually being there at the stadium to experience all those sights, sounds, and smells in person. Everything there seems larger than life, especially to children.
The Big Leagues—MLB Games
I’ve been to many professional baseball games and stadiums, so I’ve come to know that the newer stadiums provide entertainment with a modern flair, even if they’re missing the historic presence of an older ballpark. Kids will have fun watching the game, eating hot dogs and popcorn, and taking in the crowd experience. They’ll get to see their favorite hometown baseball heroes and maybe even a few great players from the other team. Younger kids may not quite understand the concept of fan loyalty as they may have more than one favorite team (based on such important factors as team colors, logo, or whether their favorite animal is represented). Nevertheless, you’ll have a fun day with the family watching a live sporting event together and making memories.
If you happen to be spending a summer weekend with your family in any of 30 different cities that host an MLB team, consider bringing the family to an away game, even if your favorite team isn’t playing. Attending a live sports event is exciting and different—a break from the ordinary summer theme parks and beach experience. Even younger kids who don’t follow the game will no doubt enjoy the junk food, cheering (or booing, if you’re from Philly like I am), and doing the “wave”. Game tickets are usually available online or at the box office on the day of the game, but I recommend purchasing in advance to avoid being disappointed if, for some reason, tickets are not available due to an important series or a hot giveaway item.
Keeping It Local—The Minors
After factoring in tickets, parking, souvenirs, and refreshments, one of the negatives to attending MLB games, especially for an entire family, is cost. As such, there are probably limits to how often your family can make this happen. Thankfully, a more economical alternative to consider (and one that’s a lot closer to home for most people) is attending a Minor League Baseball game with your family. Across the United States, there are at least 28 professional and amateur baseball leagues with nearly 300 teams, so there’s almost certainly a minor league baseball team playing in or around your home town.
Baseball at minor league parks is an ideal way to spend a fun-filled and sunny afternoon or an exciting evening with your family. Though these games don’t usually feature well-known players, the baseball is fast and well-played (often only a few feet from your seat). Who knows, some of those players may end up becoming big league superstars—you never know! And getting their autograph now is a whole lot easier to do than after they sign that $100 million contract. Also, because you’re a lot closer to the action, you can actually smell the grass and can sometimes even feel the dust from a player sliding into home plate. Finally, minor league games offer promotional giveaways of items like caps, shirts, tote bags, baseball cards, and many other baseball collectibles all the time. And concessions? They’re also very plentiful and usually a lot cheaper. One local minor league team even has “Gluttony Night”, where you can pay one price and eat from the concession stands until your heart’s content. It may not be the most healthy thing you’ll do this summer…but hey, it’s baseball. Batter up!