Which is why minor league ball is such a pleasure. Family friendly, affordable and blessed with the true heart of the sport, the smaller ball clubs provide a slice of Americana that you just can't buy for $20 a ticket.
The good news for baseball lovers is that there are new fan-friendly stadiums sprouting up all over the country. You can catch a game in smaller towns like Macon, Lynchburg and Hagerstown, or take in the minor league action in big cities like Nashville, Kansas City and Detroit.
If you love baseball you can easily incorporate a minor league game into a pleasure or business trip - but you don't have to go too far from home to have a memorable minor league experiences.
Here are four nearby baseball destinations, three in New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania, that offer a dose of what makes baseball such a great sport. When you're ready to go farther afield, pick up Fodor's Baseball Vacations by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel. The book offers a complete list of baseball teams in the U.S. and Canada, as well as first hand info on more than 60 teams and stadiums.
& Fran Halcovage, of Hatfield, PA, take their kids, Jonathan, 11, Patrick
9 and Jennifer, 5 to three or four Reading Phillies games a season. "We find
that the size of the stadium and proximity to the field and players don't intimidate
the kids," said Fran Halcovage.
game is really designed for the kids," said Halcovage. "They can run
the bases after certain games, there are fireworks, giveaway days -- and the cost
is reasonable. I can give my son a $5 bill and he'll come back with a soda and
a pretzel, and change."
Details: Games are played at 7:05 p.m., Mon.-Sat.,, 1:05 p.m. Sun., April through
Labor Day. Tickets range from $8 for boxed seats to $5 general admission, $3 for
kids 5-14 and 63 and older. Free parking. Best seat in the house: along the first
base line -- great view and easy access to the attractive patio area. The food
is cooked to order and a bargain -- hot dogs are $1.50 and the pizza is great
at $1.50 a slice
Wilmington Blue Rocks
the fact that the Blue Rocks have only been playing for seven years, their record
of four Carolina League Champions is pretty darn good. The team plays at Judy
Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, part of the new development that has
sprung up along the
year, in addition to the ever-popular Rocky Bluewinkle moose mascot, Mr. Celery
is on the scene. Picture this -- a guy dressed up in a celery suit comes out on
the field every time the Blue Rocks score a run. The fans love it -- despite the
fact that it makes no sense at all.
Details: games are played at 7:05 p.m., Mon.-Sat.,2:05 p.m. Sun., May through
Sept. 3. Tickets range from $4-7 for adults $2 for kids 2-12 and senior citizens.
Best bargain is $33.50 for four general
The Details: games are played at 7:05 p.m., Mon.-Sat., 1:35 p.m. Sun., May through Labor Day. tickets range from $8 for pavilion seats to $5 on the terrace, $3 for kids 5-14 and senior citizens. Parking is $1, with on street spots available. Best seat in the house: you'll get a great view of the Delaware River over right-field wall from seats on the third-base side. The food is good -- try the pork roll hero with sweet peppers, cheese and onions, $5, a hot dog is $3 and the French fries are above average, $2. 1 Thunder Rd., Trenton. For more information, (609) 394-8326 or click onto trentonthunder.com
Atlantic City Surf
fun starts as soon as you enter this two-year-old ball park, built or the inaugural
1998 season of the Atlantic League. The colorful entranceway is covered on both
sides with large collages of baseball
The Details: games are played at 7:05 p.m., Mon.-Sat., 2:05 or 4:05 p.m. Sun., May through mid-Sept. Tickets range from $12 for club seats to $6 reserved seating, $3 for kids 3-12 and $4 for senior citizens. Parking is free. Best seat in the house: the reserved seats, just past the dugouts, are a bargain. If you want a view of the Atlantic City skyline, head for the third-base side over the right-field fence. The Oriental Avenue reserved section is a no-alcohol family section. The best buy is a family fun pack - four reserved seats, four hot dogs and sodas and four Surf t-shirts for $50 -- a $26 savings. 545 N. Albany Ave. Atlantic City. At GoNOMAD you can find budget hotels in Atlantic City.
For more information, call 609-344-8873, or click onto acsurf.com.
Newark hasn't had a baseball team since 1950 -- a loss that was just another blow to a city in urban decline. But that's changed. The city is on the rebound, and a new ball club, the Newark Bears, is just one of the good signs. The original Bears, the Yankee's top farm club, were one of the best teams in the minor league. In 1937, they won the Triple A International League pennant by an amazing 25 1/2 games. Rick Cerone, a native son and former Yankees catcher, is the man responsible for bringing baseball and the Bears back to Newark.
In 1999, Riverfront Park opened for business. Located on the river, just north oaf the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the 6,000 seat, $19 million stadium is both state-of-the art and fan-friendly. There are on-field contests, music between innings and a large video scoreboard above the right-field fence. And there's also Rip'N Ruppert, the friendly bear mascot named after the original, long-gone ballpark.
Details: games are played at 7:05 p.m., weekdays, 6:05 p.m. Sat., 1:05 p.m. Sun.,
May through mid-Sept. Tickets range from $8 for boxed seats to $6 reserved seats,
kids 4-12 get $1 discount. Parking in nearby lots for $3, and $4. Best seat in
the house: on a clear day you can see the Manhattan skyline over the center field
fence. The food is mostly standard -- the Italian sausage with peppers and onions
is your best bet at $4.25. 10 Bridge St., Newark. For more information, call
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