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School’s out, the temperature is rising, and spring is cha-cha sliding its way into summer. The sun is up a little longer, the fresh cut grass smells a little fresher, and it’s time to get your game face on. Hoppy ales and full-bodied reds are making way for Moscow mules and citrus-infused lagers. Patio drinking season is ramping its way up, but there’s another season you should set your sights on ASAP.
All across the country, blue collar towns and bedroom communities are hosting young families, functioning alcoholics, and regular ol’ folks for affordable, light-hearted fun at their neighborhood Minor League ballpark. Each night, fans pack these miniature stadiums to watch 19-year-olds duke it out for a chance to play America’s pastime at the highest level.
A night at the ballpark is stone cold, pure entertainment. Minor League games blur the line between carnival and sport. When teams like the Montgomery Biscuits, Hartford Yard Goats, and Richmond Flying Squirrels are taking the field, can you really say that it’s anything but a “Fans First” experience? Themed games like Star Wars Night and I Love the 80’s Night keep fans of all generations and demographics returning to the ballpark night after night.
Surely this level of high quality entertainment must come at a steep price, right? Au contraire, mon frère. Last year, the average price for a family of four to attend a Minor League game was $64. Good luck spending less than that on one ticket for a decent seat at a Major League game. When the average ticket and beer costs about $8 and $5 respectively, you can catch a nice buzz for a couple Tubmans. Some ballparks even offer regular weeknight incentives. What better way to amp up a Thursday than to get after it on $2 Hot Dogs and Beer Night? Where else can you snack on a $2 bag of peanuts and watch the third base coach do the Chicken Dance between innings?
As the ultimate crowd pleaser, you can go to a game with friends, coworkers, or that special somebody. A few summers ago, I took a Tinder date to see a game on a Wednesday evening. By the third inning, the home team was down eight runs. Panic set in; was this date going to be a dud? Luckily for me, the stadium had a Ferris wheel (because of course). By the 7th inning, we were making out 100 feet up into the air, as 1500 strangers serenaded us to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Minor League games are where the magic happens.
I encourage you to go to Minor League game with little worry for the conventional. After a long day at the office, meander over to the ballpark, step out of your shell, and put yourself out there. Get a mustard stain on your shirt and heckle the umpire. Do the wave with 600 other people. Walk away with an awesome bobblehead or a coupon for a free Little Caesar’s pizza. You might even see a former MLB legend; last season, the AAA Iowa Cubs brought back 12x MLB All-star Manny Ramirez as a player-coach. That man was made for the Minor League environment.
This summer, feel free to support your favorite MLB team in person like a good American should. But if you’re looking for something a little different, or you just want to save a little money, give the local Minor League squad a chance. As far as a great bang for your buck, it’s sure to be a grand slam. Who knows? You might even get to first base..