You don’t have to go to the ballpark to enjoy America’s favorite pastime, but there are reasons you might want to.
Filled with larger-than-life characters (think Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Nolan Ryan), unforgettable moments like “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” and events that completely changed the future of the sport — we salute you, Jackie Robinson! — few sports are as rich with history and more storied than baseball.
With Major League Baseball’s 150th season almost in full swing, we thought we’d share some fun ways to enjoy one of the great American pastimes.
Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
Did you know that attending a Little League or high school baseball game has health benefits? Reap the rewards of fresh air for your lungs and a healthy dose of much-needed Vitamin D while cheering the grandkids to victory (or helping them gracefully accept defeat).
If you’re fortunate enough to live near family, don’t miss the opportunity to get in some valuable volunteer time (also scientifically proven to have multiple health benefits).
There are opportunities to volunteer for every style of grandparent:
• Assist the coach by helping players warm up their arms before the game
• Be the unofficial team photographer
• Keep score (coaches must constantly recruit parents to do this; you’ll achieve instant MVP status by taking on this simple duty)
• Sign up for shifts at the concession stand
• Lead other fans in your favorite cheer
Don’t have a grandkid playing or living nearby? Not a problem. It’s not a requirement to get out and support the local high school — cheer on the team whose uniforms you like the most! And don’t forget about the fellas playing just as hard as the pros. Check out this map to find one of the Triple-A or Minor League teams in your area.
Perhaps Kevin Costner misunderstood the whisper in the wind: If you build it, he will come. Based on the over-the-top fan foods available it’s possible that Shoeless Joe Jackson yearned, not for a field of dreams, but a dog of dreams.
Tantalize your taste buds with dogs, brats, and sausages slathered in relish, chili, cheese, onions, pickles, sauerkraut, jalapenos, onion rings, tater tots … is your stomach rumbling yet?
For the more adventurous there’s the Cracker Jack and Mac Dog (Pittsburg Pirates). And for fans who really like to think outside the bun, try the Texas Rangers’ Most Valuable Tamale. The M.V.T. takes their famous 24-inch chili and cheese topped Boomstick and rolls it into a tamale (topped with more chili and nacho cheese, of course!). You’ve got to see these dogs to believe them.
Even your more “common” fare — the Fenway Frank, the Brewer Brat, or a Classic Chicago Dog — are delicious choices because they all come with that extra ingredient only found at baseball stadiums: the atmosphere.
To find a hot dog (or baseball game) near you, download the MLB Ballpark app on your iPhone or Android.
Hit a Grand Slam for Your Bucket List
If the acid reflux kicks into overdrive at the thought of all those mouthwatering masterpieces in a bun, the menu of stadiums shouldn’t be ignored.
Across the U.S., there are 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, with 30 completely different experiences. Why not tour them all?
Unlike other professional sports, baseball has a very long regular season — each team plays 162 games — so there are plenty of days to attend. And one of the benefits of such a long season is that tickets are relatively inexpensive (especially when compared to tickets for NFL games).
Although it has been done, we don’t recommend attempting to visit all 30 stadiums in 30 days.
The MLB’s Big League Tours offers multiple itineraries broken down by region, making it possible to tour every ballpark, eat a lot of hot dogs, and hit a homer for your Bucket List.
For a hilarious and exhausting recap of two friends’ journey read I Don’t Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever, Grove Press 2013.
There’s one final way to experience the ultimate walk down memory lane: oil up your glove, dust off the bases, grab a bat, and head to the park.
Whether it’s a friendly competition at the next family reunion or a weekly seniors’ game at city park, it’s not difficult to organize your own game. (Of course, whiffle balls are always allowed.)
The only way to truly strikeout is to not get out there and play some ball.