Liam was jumping up and down in excitement, as fireworks painted the sky with color between the flashing rainbow lights ringing the outfield.
“THIS IS THE BEST! DAY! EVERRRR!”
When your child screams that at the top of their lungs, that my friends, is what you call a parenting win! And we hadn’t even run the bases yet! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’d gone to the ballgame, as we’d done many times before. Baseball has been a big part of my life and Liam is getting into it too, so going to games is a no-brainer.
My wife? Well, she’s far from a sports nut, and wouldn’t consider herself a baseball fan, but she loves going to live ballgames. Baseball games are not just about the sport, but the experience, and the rhythm and flow of America’s favorite pastime allows you to sit and talk to your family in a way you can’t do anywhere else. It’s just as much about being with them as it is being there for the game.
Thing is, we live in New York, and although we love going to Yankee Stadium, those games can get expensive quickly, especially with children in tow, so it limits how often we can go see the Major Leaguers.
The answer, as my smart and lovely wife found, was to go to Minor League games. The Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island have become a favorite destination of ours, as have the Staten Island Yankees.
For the baseball purist, Minor League games are amazing. You get a look at the up and comers, get in your own scouting reports, and in these days of having everything on the internet at your fingertips any time you like, for stats junkies and Fantasy League players like myself, watching the Minor Leaguers gives you a head start on everyone else.
For the families looking for affordable fun, Minor League games are amazing. These stadiums go all out to entertain you. Between innings you will be treated to dance teams, people in costume doing silly things, and a plethora of other activities.
Just as a for instance, when we attended MCU Park on July 1st to see the Brooklyn Cyclones take on the Staten Island Yankees, Medieval Times was on hand, and we were treated to multiple sword fights during game breaks. Liam was thrilled to literally see sparks fly from the clashing broadswords of the armored knights going at it.
As for the value, it’s impossible to argue with what you get back for what you pay. We were absolutely blown away with what we got. We might love Yankee Stadium but here’s a quick roundup of everything that happened at this one ballgame at MCU Park:
We all received free Cyclones jerseys, as it was a giveaway day.
Liam got a toy baseball player, because the person in charge of giving them to special groups thought he was cute.
Medieval Times put on several amazing fight shows.
There was a pitching cage.
There was a batting cage.
Hot dog races! I mean c’mon!
The mascots all said hello to us.
The kids got to run the bases after the game!
And there were fireworks after the game!
So, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal than that, considering the average ticket price was hovering around $15, and those are for behind home plate and in the boxes!
Concessions are far cheaper as well. Food and drink prices are far below Major League prices and are normally less expensive than theater chains to boot.
Not to mention all the surprises and entertainment that don’t cost extra.
But beyond the affordable prices, the appeal of Minor League games is greater than that. Sitting in a smaller ballpark feels more genuine. My wife says she likes it because it’s a real slice of Americana. She’s right.
And it’s nice when you live in a big city to leave all of that behind and get a feel for small town America. It’s good to get out of that bubble and change your perspective on things.
This is what baseball is all about, and why it’s America’s pastime. It’s not all about the game, or how much you’re paying to get in, but a sense of community, of belonging to something bigger than all of us. You sit with your family, your friends, your neighbors. You belong.
In days when the country we live in can seem divided beyond repair, it’s more important than ever to feel connected to each other, to remind each other that we’re all in this together, and you can get that feeling at a Minor League ballpark.
So while my son joyfully hollered that this was the best day ever, he wasn’t just speaking for himself, but for me, and maybe everyone else at the ballpark, too.
Disclosure: The author was given tickets and food vouchers for his family for the game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees on July 1st. But they’re regulars at MCU Park regardless, and he even has King Henry on his friends list!