At the risk of sounding un-American, I am NOT a fan of Major League Baseball. The amount of money paid these athletes/entertainers infuriates me. The controversies regarding steroid use makes me sad (what a waste of human potential). And the sum of money it takes for my family to go to a major league game sickens me. When I tally up how much money it costs for gas, tolls, parking, tickets, food, and drinks when we go to a Yankees or Mets game, it just doesn’t add up to an enjoyable time.
Fun is going to a minor league baseball game.
The other night, we rode up to Yogi Berra Stadium at Montclair State, on the spur of the moment, to see a New Jersey Jackals game. No tolls, no fees for parking. Got great seats for a fraction of the cost of seeing the millionaires in New York play. In fact, if you’ve never been to Berra Stadium, there’s not a bad seat in the house. The venue is small, clean, and the whole experience is EXTREMELY family-friendly.
It was $.50 hot dog day at the stadium (they often have promotions at games and even offer nighttime fireworks), so the kids chowed down on some dogs while Mom nursed a Diet Coke with the total cost under $5. Oh, and you can bring in your own water, so we didn’t even have to spring for that. During the game, we were entertained by the team’s mascot, Jack The Jackal, who made his way all over the stadium. My 4-year old, who’s into people in costume, was gleeful as she had her photo taken with him. There were also silly races between innings. One involved a kid from the audience racing the Jackal (the kid always wins); the other had guys dressed as ketchup, mustard, and a pickle, respectively, running around the bases. The bullpen is accessible and right next to a hill the kids can run around on. My son had fun chatting with the players as they warmed up. One even threw him a practice ball.
There’s a “kids’ zone” with a bouncy castle and some games kids can play, but since we were trying to keep the cost down, we vetoed my children’s request to do those. No worries. Junior had a blast playing catch with a friend on the aforementioned hill.
I like the fact that these are minor players who are hoping to better their craft as they, hopefully, make their way up to the big leagues. They are not paid the millions of dollars the big leaguers are and since these guys are more prone to making mistakes, I find the quality of play more entertaining. It’s like watching my son, ten years down the road, playing ball. I root for these guys. I participate in the game. It’s more of a communal experience than anything I’ve encountered watching Major League ball.
After most games, kids are invited to run the bases. On the rainy afternoon we went, field conditions prohibited that, but the players came out and sat at tables (many scrambled to find fold-up chairs) to sign autographs. My son was delighted to chat with these friendly, tired players who signed the baseball one of them had thrown him during the game.
Maybe I should refrain from saying I’m not a baseball fan. Perhaps that is unfair to “the national pastime.” I should just say I’m a HUGE fan of minor league ball and, in particular, the NJ Jackals. Go team!
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.