Looking for some summer fun? Pack the family in the car and head to the nearest minor league stadium on game night and be prepared for all the thrills of Major League Baseball at a fraction of the cost, plus an extra heap of family fun!
LET THE FAMILY FUN BEGIN
Minor league baseball games not only offer the opportunity to watch some good baseball but are also structured around fun for the whole family, with yummy local food and kid-friendly entertainment. Not to mention, obtaining an autograph is much easier.
Most local teams have websites for purchasing tickets online, or ticket hotlines. Another place to start the search: milb.com/tickets. This site consolidates all minor league teams, showing team videos, scores, schedules, history, contests and how to buy tickets. Families on a road trip can use the site to find teams in the cities along their vacation route.
HOW THE MINOR LEAGUE DIFFERS FROM THE MAJOR LEAGUE
Minor League Baseball is the farm system for Major League Baseball. Great young players hone their talents in the minors before being called up to the majors. Sometimes major leaguers are sent down to play in the minors for rehab from an injury or to fix their swing.
The game, itself, is exactly the same as what the Big Boys play. Same ball, same bats, same rules. The great difference is that Minor League Baseball can be more accessible than a major league game.
You see up-and-coming talent, up close, in smaller stadiums with cheaper seats, in smaller cities and towns across America. Plus, the fun quotient is amped up: silly mascots, kids contests and a more informal atmosphere.
Minor league players take the game seriously, but the atmosphere is more friendly. The emphasis is on introducing kids to the love of the game.
MORE TEAMS, MORE ACCESS, CHEAPER TICKETS
While Major League Baseball has 30 teams in two leagues, Minor League Baseball has 246 teams in 20 leagues. This vast spiderweb of feeder teams funnel talent up to the majors, and sometimes back down from the majors. Attendance at minor league games averages 2,000 to 4,000 a game compared to an average attendance of 28,000 at a major league stadium.
Low ticket prices at the minors make family attendance possible. The average ticket price for an adult is $8 at 80% of the minor league ballparks. An average cost for a family with food is $68 for a Triple-A-game.
WATCH FAMOUS MINOR LEAGUERS
To track the top minor league prospects and find out which ones might be playing in the minor league game you plan to watch, go to www.fangraphs.com. The site is loaded with data on the players and teams.
Minor league teams are full of talent. A player you follow in the minors often is just a major league injury away from being called up into the majors. Every major league player, from Mike Trout with the Angels to Mookie Betts with the Dodgers, began their career in the minor leagues.
HERE’S A SAMPLING OF WHAT YOU’LL FIND WHILE WATCHING SOME TEAMS ACROSS AMERICA
A parachuting reindeer, named Rhubarb, arrives during pregame
Grounder’s garlic fries
Theme nights all season long
Dippin' Dots in a mini AquaSox baseball hat
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS
Kid’s wiffleball field
A gourmet burger and famous orange freeze
Jake the Diamond Dog, who does tricks for the kids before game time
An onsite brewery and a fried bologna sandwich
OMAHA STORM CHASERS
Mini-golf down the right-field line; free basketball court for kids; free photo booth
The Omaha Steaks Corn-Dog-O, which is two hot dogs, pulled pork and coleslaw wrapped in a tortilla. (Heartburn?)
Now, let's play ball!