You know “family packages” are usually for a family of four? At a Salt Lake City Bee’s game you can win a family pack of baseball tickets – for a family of eight.

In the Bee’s program, along with the lineup and scorecard, are advertisements for local Mormon churches. The parking lot (where you should NOT park, to avoid the $6 fee) is filled with large and expensive looking SUV’s – useful for both traversing mountain passes and shuttling large families to and fro.

This is one reason why I always buy tickets to minor league baseball games when on a spring or summer road trip. (The other reason being that I love baseball more than traveling itself. And that’s saying a lot!) Minor league ballparks provide major community insight. The outfield walls will be covered with advertisements to local restaurants. Community events will be referenced over the loudspeakers in between innings. Friendly people surrounding you (because baseball lovers are the best kind of people) will fill you in on anything you might want to know about their hometown. From the ceremonial first pitch to the 7th inning stretch, minor league stadiums are “1-2-3” times better then local tourism offices.   

A couple minor league tips:

  • Peruse the concession area and enter any contests. Almost all stadiums have free giveaways. Since this is not a major-league crowd, you actually have a good chance of winning!
  • Ballparks are often in questionable areas of town (where land and property is cheaper), so be aware. Surrounding hotels are often not the best…but usually they are less expensive.
  • Minor league players are amenable to signing balls and programs. Come early or stick around after the game to score an autograph.
  • Check www.milb.com for a list of ballparks throughout the US. Call ahead to reserve tickets because some stadiums do sell out. 
  • Bring blankets and warm clothes. Even Southern California gets cold in the 8th inning.
  • Learn how to keep score. It’s fun, a great conversation starter, and a good record of the game. If one of the players makes it to the majors it’ll be fun to look back and remember the game where you saw him as a 19-year-old rookie, chasing big dreams.