Updated: Aug 14, 2019
I have spent the last 4 months traveling the United States, visiting both Major League, Minor League and Independent League Ball Parks. My adventures have taken me to many parts of our country, from big cities such as New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, to medium size cities such as Milwaukee and Ft. Wayne, to smaller towns like Fishkill, New York, and Missoula Montana. The weather has been changeable as well. With snow and much rain in April and May, to hot 90-degree weather in July. There has been sun, clouds, sleet, snow, rain and of course the dreaded rain out of a game. There have been dome stadiums as well. I have visited Tropicana Field in Tampa and the retractable roof stadiums in Phoenix and Milwaukee.
Most ball parks have a mascot, such as the Sod Poodle in Amarillo Texas, and Mr. Met at Citi Field in Queens, New York. I have crossed paths with the Phillies Fanatic in Philadelphia, Snapper The Turtle in Beloit, Wisconsin and The Red Hawk in Fargo, North Dakota. Each ball yard that I have visited has its own unique flavor, smell and feel that makes it stand out from the rest. The massive Yankee Stadium in The Bronx to Dozer Field in Peoria, Illinois they all play a big part in what I still consider to be our national pastime, Baseball. There is stadium seating along the first base line in Bowling Green, Kentucky and plush soft seating in the box seats at Target Field. Regardless, they all offer the spectator the inspiring view of the green grass and the colorful uniforms that these teams wear.
Concessions vary, depending upon which part of the country I have visited. There are the old-time favorites of hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and cotton candy, There is also local flavor, ranging from Philly Cheese Steak, Mexican Taco, Brats in Milwaukee and even Chick- Fil - A in a few locations. Ice cream is still a fan favorite. Every stadium I have visited I have found a long line to get ice cream or Dippin’ Dots! While I am not a beer drinker, I have noticed that each ballpark has as wide selection of brews, with the Craft Beer craze having a strong hold on stadium goers. The taps at The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati were so abundant that a beer station was set up with too many taps for me to count. If you search, I am sure you will find something for every member of your family. I have seen whiskey bars and tequila bars at a few parks as well. It seems what ever your tastes, you will find something to eat and drink!
Every stadium offers an opportunity for fan participation, especially at the Minor League parks. Games for the children, tee shirt tosses, goofy character races around the outfield, all offer up healthy family fun and excitement. 50/50 raffles are prevalent in many stadiums, as of today, I have yet to win but I keep trying. I have seen some exciting plays and events. A triple play at Target Field in Minneapolis, a Back – To Back - To Back home run barrage, also at Target Field. In Philadelphia the retirement of Ryan Howard’s jersey and number and in Minneapolis the same for Joe Mauer.
I have attended this year’s ballgames with friends, family and loved ones. Also, I have attended many games solo. Along the way I have met many people with the same enthusiasm and excitement for the game. There are those too at the games that are there to help others. At a game in Amarillo, I could only to secure a standing room only ticket. While I was standing behind home plate watching the game, a gentleman asked me a few questions and then, much to my surprise offered me a behind home plate, box seat for free. He was as season ticket holder and had an extra seat. He was an angel in disguise! The staffs at these parks are always around to help find your seat and locate the best places to eat! Always ask for food recommendations!
Technology is playing a major role in today’s game. Our Smartphones allow us to follow every game regardless of what we are doing and where we are. The games are at our fingertips and our constant disposal. Look around for phone apps that meet your baseball needs.
I will continue to chronicle my ballpark visits will be chronicled as the season winds down towards the World Series. As of August, the main takeaway from this season so far is this.
Baseball is, and I believe will always be a family affair. Each game offers us an opportunity to spend time with our friends and family while we enjoy the outdoors and bond over the game we love and the players we follow. We debate the plays, relive the highlights and try to forget the low points of our favorite team and player. The following day we can review the night’s past events as we pour over the box scores from the previous day’s game. We can check the statistics of our favorites and look at the team standings to see how our team is looking heading into the home stretch. At the day’s beginning we check the upcoming previews of todays games. Pitching match ups, weather reports and injury lists. Get yourself set for the day of games ahead. It has been an exciting year so far and it is shaping up for a fine finish.