CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, May 27, 2013 – Baseball season is in full swing, but anyone looking to combine a road trip with the nation’s pastime should consider visiting a minor league ballpark.
Minor league baseball, which has been growing in prominence over the past few years, offers a viable alternative to major league ball. As evidence, consider:
– See the stars of tomorrow before anyone knows who they are
– Enjoy more economical prices compared to major league parks
– Sit closer to the action, which is often possible at minor league parks
– Sometimes, it seems as though these players are playing harder than their major league counterparts
– Generally speaking, tickets for good seats are easy to come by – even at the 11th hour
Almost every aspect of minor league is more colorful. Case in point: The team names.
Sure, some teams merely match the names of their major league counterparts, such as the Mississippi Braves or the Vero Beach Dodgers. Others pay homage to the teams’ hometowns, such as the Augusta Greenjackets (so named because of The Masters) or the Brooklyn Cyclones (named after the famous roller coaster at Coney Island).
Still, some teams sport more peculiar names. The Vermont Lake Monsters, the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Montgomery Biscuits are a few that come to mind.
Of course, the Las Vegas 51’s – named after Area 51 – and the Albuquerque Isotopes – named for both the Springfield Isotopes baseball team from The Simpsons (yes, the cartoon) and also the atomic testing of the 1950s – are just downright unique.
On a side note, major league baseball hasn’t had a colorful team name since the Worcester Ruby Legs took the field in 1880 (they disbanded after a horrid 18-66 effort in 1882). OK, maybe since the Houston Colt .45’s in the early 1960s (they’re today called the Houston Astros).
Furthermore, consider the fact that minor league clubs often have mascots as confounding as names. The cumulative minor league mascot roster features deer, a warthog, reindeer, dinosaurs and owls along with some other, less discernible, creatures.
On top of the team names and the mascots, some teams also feel the need to offer promotions.
Used as a means to draw fans who seem to think a ball game isn’t enough, some of these offerings could be considered downright absurd: the Reading Fightin Phils offer SPAM Carving Night.
Others may be more lighthearted and even … practical? The Chattanooga Lookouts, for example, last season celebrated the 20th anniversary of Used Car Night. As one might suspect, the team parades used cars around the field between innings. Then, it gives the cars away by pulling a winner’s name from a hat, or box, in this case.
Beyond the promotions and general tomfoolery, a minor league ballpark has all the creature comforts: peanuts, Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and beer. It’s also possible to find some culinary curiosities, such as the funnel cake fries at the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers’ ballpark.
So, throw on the powdered sugar and bring a glove. There’s a game to catch.
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