Minor League Baseball Warms the Cockles of My Heart

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Maybe it’s the lights. Maybe it’s the bright green hue of the ball field. Or maybe it’s the mascot strolling through the stands, waving at the crowd, and posing for photos with the little kids. But there’s something about minor league baseball that warms the cockles of my heart.

And recently we’ve had many opportunities to attend minor league games. Our cousin was drafted last year by the Washington Nationals and he currently plays for their Class A team called the Hagerstown Suns. The Suns are in the Southeast Division and frequently travel to North and South Carolina for games. Last week we saw the Suns play the Kannapolis Intimidators (at the Intimidators Stadium in Kannapolis, NC) and had a blast.

First of all, Mr G’s Half-Normal Challenge post was the number one featured article on RockStar Finance the day we went to the game. So we were in a great mood as we approached the stadium. Our second stroke of luck was in scoring two comp tickets in the reserved section via our cousin. Mr. G strode right up to the “Will Call” window, whipped out his ID, and claimed them just like a RockStar.

But Lady Luck wasn’t through with us yet. As soon as we entered the stadium, we saw signs for Weenie Wednesday! That’s right, Weenie Wednesday! Regular hot dogs were only a buck. And not just any hot dogs—Nathan’s hot dogs!

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Since Mr. G is a huge dog lover, we waltzed right on over to the concession stand. “Two hot dogs, please,” he said. “And a Diet Pespi”. Then he asked me what I wanted, and I gave him “the look”. You know the one I’m talking about? With one eyebrow raised and a squinty glare? And he exclaimed, “The two hot dogs are for ME!” OK, now I understood. He was being a piglet (as we call Groovy Cat when he inhales his food). I ordered one more dog.

Right before the game began, a cute little nine-year-old girl was called up to sing the National Anthem. She began singing without musical accompaniment—not even a pitch pipe for her first note. Immediately I knew she started way too high and that the “rockets red glare” section was going to be explosive. But I give her credit. Her voice cracked like the dickens, but wouldn’t you know it, she had perfect pitch!

I wish I could say the game itself was eventful—but no it was not. The Suns, including our cousin, had a bad night. They got one hit and were creamed by the Intimidators. And it wasn’t as if the Intimidators were dazzling us with their skills—they just looked good compared to the Suns. But the little kids provided all the entertainment we needed. Watching their excitement over all the audience-participation shtick was the highlight of the evening.

The Intimidators mascot, Tim E Gator, roamed the stadium interacting with the kids and posing for photos. Then he marched two little ones down to the field between innings for a ring-toss match. A teenage stadium employee officiated as they attempted to fling a hoola-hoop over Gator’s head. With each turn, she nudged them closer and closer to Gator until finally someone won.

Then the “squishy balls” came flying into the stands and were up for grabs. That was followed by a round of “Who wants free pizza?” And then came the the T-shirt toss, a crowd favorite. Watching the kids trample over each other for a 39-cent ball, stale pizza, and a flimsy T-shirt was just priceless!

The cost of going to a minor league game vs a major league game is nothing to sneeze at. Check out the rankings of the most and least expensive stadiums for the majors. The average cost for a day at a major league ball park is $78 for two people. The average cost for two at the Intimidators Stadium is around $30—and I’m accounting for full-price tickets and weenies. (Our extravaganza cost us $13.)

And what about the experience? No one ever poured a drink over my head at a minor league game—although I came close. At a Charlotte Knights game in Rock Hill, SC, a few years ago, a redneck kid accidentally spilled a large soda all over my sister-in-law. BUT all was forgiven since Bucky Covington from American Idol gave a free concert in the parking lot after the game. Tell me what major league baseball stadium can make that claim?

They can’t—the minor league experience caters to families. No fist fights break out, no arguments erupt, no pushing, shouting or cursing goes on at the concession stands—and there are no stupid lines for the bathroom. If you want plain, wholesome family entertainment, I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

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30 Comments

  1. I’ve really come to enjoy minor league baseball more than the major leagues and I grew up in an MLB city. I just really enjoy sitting close, parking close, and enjoying a relaxing evening with friends and family. Plus, you can’t beat the $1 beers and dogs night!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      The entire atmosphere at minor league games is much more laid back. I agree about the ability to park close. Also, you don’t have to sneak out in the 8th inning to beat the crowds the parking lot.

  2. I’ve been to a few minor league games, but I’ve been to a lot more of the spring training games, mostly in Arizona, but also in Florida, and they tend to be played in minor league stadiums. I love that you can be closer to the field for a much more affordable price. For professional baseball, I’d rather just stay home with the better camera angles, instant replay, and commentary. It’s just a completely different environment vs. professional sports….even when the professionals are playing in spring.

    My baseball interest has come and gone over the years. But I caught the end of the World Series last night!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Watching spring training must be fun. The MLB games remind me of Disney World. Everyone seems so happy. Mr. Groovy’s cousin plays minor league for the Washington Nationals so we try to get to his games when the team is in NC and SC. I agree with you about professional sports – you get a better view at home watching TV.

  3. I’m not a big baseball fan, however, I do have fond memories of growing up in Denver and going to see the Denver Bears back in the day. Good stuff! Unfortunately, no minor league teams near my current home.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      The last major league game we went to was in Denver, but we saw the Colorado Rockies…Well, there are no minor leagues near your home but you’re blessed with having all those hiking trails. If I’m not mistaken, several are almost right out your door?

  4. Sounds like a great, almost free night out. 1-buck hotdogs! What’s that all about? I may not have stopped at just 2 so give Mr Groovy credit for that. Or did he sneek in a cheeky third dog before the night had finished?

    It just goes to show that you don’t need to shell out a fortune for a great, entertaining night out.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Nope Mr G didn’t sneak in a third. He actually doesn’t eat bread very often so 2 was his limit. Out of the 13 bucks, $2 was spent on tips and $2 on parking. So nine bucks for three dogs, one soda (and I HAD to get a snow cone. I had to — they had PEACH!)

  5. Luckily baseball games have all the other forms of entertainment. I get a little board watching baseball itself, except in that it gives me a chance to holler in public. I love the little kids showing off their various talents and how much the crowd gets into free oversized t-shirts.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I get a little bored by the game too but I’m a people watcher. And like you, I love watching the kids. There’s something about how magical everything seems to appear to them. It’s humbling in a way. Thanks for commenting, ZJ.

  6. The Twins might lose to half the minor league teams this year…….

    I havent been to a minor league game in a few years – but in college a minor league team used our college field and we went all the time. cheap seats, cheap food and cheap beer – perfect.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Are you saying the Twins suck? You certainly hit the trifecta with that minor league team playing at your college!

  7. I bet the minor league games would be a blast for our kids! I’ve been to see the Zephyrs in New orleans and that was always fun. We haven’t been to see the Skeeters here yet because we’re on the exact opposite side of the city from where their stadium is. It’s a solid hr each way… Booo…

    I like the minor league games though, they’re much more laid back and fun than the majors by far!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Any kind of game in New Orleans must be a blast, Mr. SSC. Yeah, a solid hour each way is a bit too much. Our cousin is playing again this weekend in SC but it’s a two hour drive. We’ll probably see him next in Asheville, NC, which is over a 3-hour drive. But Asheville is such a great place, we’ll probably stay overnight and do some other stuff.

  8. We love going to minor league games! The tickets cost about the same as going to the movies and they have great food specials too. The theme nights are awesome – and tons of give-aways. One other thing that was great when the kids were little is that we could go for half of the game and when they got tired, we never felt like we were wasting money leaving.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      If I’m not mistaken, Vicki, some of the minor league stadiums even have food trucks during the games. And we are suckers for food trucks! I love your point, about being able to leave before the game was over and not feel like you’ve wasted money. How many things as adults have we sat through just to get our money’s worth? Thanks for your comment, Vicki.

  9. I need to take my little one to a minor league game. I bet he’d enjoy it – and I could probably stand to learn a few things about baseball, since I just signed him up for little league. The cuteness is squeezing my heart!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Awww. I love how the cuteness is squeezing your heart, Pia. I think you know we don’t have children but I spent a lot of time with my brother’s two boys when they were small (I can’t believe the younger one is getting married in a few months.) There’s something about little boys in uniforms! Talk about warming the cockles of my/your heart!

  10. I love going to baseball games and I’m not even really a fan of the sport–I just love spending three hours with my friends. Most people are too ‘busy’ to spend that kind of time together anywhere else, and going to lunch only gets us an hour, so baseball games are a glorious way to catch up with people I don’t see often.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I’m not huge fan either, Julie. But at least I can follow the game! I wish I can say the same for football. No matter how many times it’s explained to me, I don’t get it. Enough with the “downs” already! You’re right about it being a great way to socialize. For one of our cousin’s games there were about a dozen of us. That made it a lot more fun.

  11. While I am a big fan of the majors, I do love to attend the minor league games when I can. I went with my wife back in April and in addition to the regular festivities they also had fireworks. You are absolutely right that they cater to families and it is wonderful to see. If anyone wants some reasonably-priced, family-friendly entertainment, minor league games are a great way to go.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      That’s a cool way to see fireworks, Gary. When we were in NY any kind of fireworks display attracted way too many people. I can’t get excited about it when I’m squished like a sardine. Which ball park do you go to?

  12. I so want to make a Bulls or Mudcats game with Little Bit soon. It’s such a nice way to spend an evening. I do try to avoid the “Thirsty Thursdays” that used to be my reason to go now that I have a kid. I do enjoy going on a fireworks night. I used to live a few blocks from the stadium in Greensboro and always enjoyed watching a good display of booms.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      We intend to look for land near the Mudcats stadium. Too bad you haven’t been to a game there this year. They had a shortstop, Dansby Swanson, who was the number 1 draft pick last year. We saw him play college BB with our cousin. He already moved up. And we’ve been to a Greensboro Grasshoppers game this year because our cousin also played there. That stadium is so much fun. Last year they retired Miss Babe Ruth, their “bat dog” that had been the bat/ball retriever for 649 consecutive games. We saw Lou Lou Gehrig, her niece who replaced her. But she’s still learning the ropes. Sometimes when she retrieves a ball, rather than quickly getting off the field, she’ll get excited and run around the bases.

  13. We went to a Fresno Grizzlies game on our road trip through California this spring, and it was great! I found a two-for-one coupon for tickets in an auto shop while we were getting the tires rotated, and then it was “$2 Tecate Thursday,” during which you can get the largest can of beer I have ever seen (I think it was 32 oz) for two bucks. It’s not Pliny the Elder, but hey, you’re in Fresno. We had a good time.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Love those two-for-one deals, Matt! And Mr G would have loved that two dollar 32 oz beer. Unfortunately I never developed a taste for beer but at least I can’t tell the difference between cheap wine and expensive wine.

  14. I’ll take a minor league game over a major league game any day of the week. Minor league games are much more fun and inexpensive. We have a local minor league team and they are always running promotions. Good luck to your cousin make the big leagues!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for your comment and the good wishes for our cousin, Brian. He’s got a shot but he’s also prepared to go back to college and finish his degree. You just made me recall the worst part of the major league games- getting out of the stadium and parking lot after they’re over! At Yankee stadium if the game is uneventful people start hitting the road in the 8th inning.