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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Kids love baseball, moms and dads love it too. But the cost of a family of four going to a major league baseball game is a major league investment. Here are some low cost alternatives for family with kids for attending baseball games in the Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and D.C. area.

I’ll never forget the time last year when my wife and I were leaving RFK Stadium, where we had just watched the Washington Nationals play, and our nearly 3-year-old son sang himself to sleep with the venerable unofficial anthem of baseball. As we listened to his fading verse — “For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out … ” — we vowed to return to delight his senses with the sights, sounds and excitement of the ballpark.

However, with seats, parking and the obligatory packages of peanuts and Cracker Jacks setting back even a small family well over $100, a visit to watch the boys of summer can be an expensive way to spend a sultry Chesapeake Bay evening. For cost-conscious families eager to experience a professional sporting event that doesn’t break the bank, a Minor League baseball game may be your best bet.
With five teams in Maryland and one each in Delaware and Northern Virginia within reach, an outing to the ballpark can be very accessible and enjoyable.
The Bowie Baysox, the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, is the closest of the Minor League teams for Chesapeake Family readers. Most of the Baysox 71 home games are in the evening; however, like many other teams, they offer day games on Sundays and even some during the week for school outings and stay-at-home parents. Our family’s first game of the season was a weeknight match-up between the Baysox and their Eastern League rival, the Reading Phillies.
Arriving at Prince Georges Stadium, home to the Baysox, conveniently located near the intersection of Routes 50 and 301, visitors will notice the first of several notable differences between the Minor Leagues and the Big Leagues: free parking. The friendly employees at the box office greet fans with warm smiles and wallet-pleasing prices, charging only $9 per adult and nothing for children 5 and under.
General admission seats are close enough to the field to easily read the names on players’ jerseys, but for those wanting to be even closer to the aspiring Major Leaguers, reserved box seats are only $14. Between bites of his hot dog, my son pleaded to the batters warming up to deliver a home-run.
At all Minor League games, staff members interact with the crowd, at times bringing fans onto the field for contests (such as sumo suit wrestling and a home-run attempt at the Baysox game). Additionally, each of the regional teams offer several weekly promotions throughout the season, with fireworks after games (the Delmarva Shorebirds have 19 post-game fireworks shows) and even a chance to bring a dog to a game (during the July 9 Frederick Keys’ Bark in the Park Day). Just above the right field corner at the Prince Georges Stadium, the spinning lights of a merry-go-round and the inflated moon-bounce are easily recognizable as great diversions after a potty break late in the game.
By the fifth inning of the Reading game, Louie, the Baysox’s furry green mascot, found his way through the stands to slap high-fives with fans, both young and old. Within the small stadium there was not one child who missed the opportunity for a hug or photo.          Most nine-inning games last under three hours, but with bedtime long behind us, we decided to leave at the end of the ninth with the score still tied. Wiped out from the full evening, including some scrambling through the stands for foul balls, my boy nodded off in the car, content with the evening, but lamenting the lack of a home-run.
Still talking about the game the next day, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the Baysox won in the 10th inning with a home-run. But I did reassure him that we’d return to the ballpark again soon.

Chesapeake Family serves parents and families in Annapolis, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Calvert counties, Baltimore, Bowie and the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Richard Marshall lives in Pasadena.

Find a Game
Bowie Baysox
www.baysox.com
General $9 (6-12 is $6), Reserved $11-14, Under 5 free

Delmarva Shorebirds (Salisbury, Maryland)
www.theshorebirds.com
General $6 (3-12 is $4), Reserved $9-12, Under 3 free

Frederick Keys
www.frederickkeys.com/
General $8 (3-12 is $5), Reserved $9-11, Under 3 free

Potomac Nationals (Woodbridge, VA)
www.potomacnationals.com
General $8 (3-12 is $5), Reserved $9-11, Under 3 free

Aberdeen IronBirds
ironbirdsbaseball.com
General $8 (3-12 is $5), Reserved $9-11, Under 3 free

Hagerstown Suns
www.hagerstownsuns.com
General $7 (under 12 is $5), Reserved $9

Wilmington Blue Rocks
www.bluerocks.com
General $6 (4-12 is $4), Reserved $8-9, Under 4 free

By Richard Marshall

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