Mom, Take ME Out to the Ballgame! A Guide to Spring Training with Kids

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Spring Training FamilyWe’re a baseball family with both adults rooting for teams that connect us to our childhood, rather than our current adult lives. 

I’m a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan since I hail from the Northwest suburbs of the city, while my husband is an LA Dodgers fan (he’s from Montana and somehow chose to root for the Dodgers, even though his extended family are entirely San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners fans). 

What’s so great about our family living in Arizona is that we get the annual treat of seeing BOTH of our favorite teams, up close and personal, without having to leave the state during Spring Training Cactus League play. Now that we have kids, they are all-in on the Spring Training fun and we’ve developed some tips and tricks to help share the love of the game with your littles.

With the MLB lockout in negotiations this week, we’re hopeful we’ll still be able to enjoy a little Spring Training this year, so we’re going ahead and hitting ‘publish’ on this guide as planned!

xo,

Lindsay (and kind of Jason, too)

Skip the Stroller!

Trust me on this. You won’t really need it and it will make life harder for you. 

You’ll more than likely have to check it with Guest Services ahead of time, even when the stadium permits it into the gates. Parking is usually not a huge ordeal at Spring Training stadiums, so it’s not a significant walk. If you’re a baby-wearer, that is ideal!  If not, just plan to schlep the littles on your hip and make the bigs use their own two feet! 

If you’re attending a Cubs game at Sloan Park, you can even use a convenient parking shuttle that takes you from the Mesa Riverview shopping area to the stadium. 

Take Me Out with a Crowd!

Baseball with friends is a day well spent. Group tickets are typically available for groups of 15 or more (which is sometimes just 3 families!) and can make life a little easier and cheaper. 

It’s also a super fun experience to let the kiddos hang out together while the adults enjoy the game (or the beer… no judgment) together. 

Tailgating ahead of time just adds to the fun when you’re in a group! Not all stadiums allow “active tailgating,” but the Oakland A’s at Hohokam Park open their parking up two hours early so you can tailgate (just skip the charcoal grills).

Spring TrainingGet in the Grass!

Who loves spending tons of money for an assigned seat for a 4-year-old who probably won’t sit still for a 2 ½ hour game? …anybody?  …anybody?  …Bueller?  Exactly. 

The grass is where it’s at, friends. Lawn tickets are less expensive, super fun, and sometimes have you even closer to the action.  Warmups for pitchers and catchers often happen just on the other side of outfield fence, which sometimes means autograph opportunities! Bring blankets and towels to set up your little family lawn island.

The grass also means your kids can wiggle, waggle, and run around a little between plays.  Bring baby baseball gloves and squishy baseballs and you’ve got a lawn- and crowd-friendly activity ready to go.

When it’s a really fun atmosphere, the lawn becomes a little family – you get to hang, chat, and maybe even make some new friends. You celebrate when that guy with the vintage team tee catches a foul ball and can lend a helping hand/diaper/wipe to the family juggling what looks like a lot of kids. 

Timing is Everything!

We live in Arizona. That means we get to enjoy 300+ days of beautiful sunshine and we can see live baseball before just about anyone else in the country. Keep in mind, especially in those lawn seats, even a gorgeous 80-degree day can start to feel HOT after a while. 

After a few games of sweating our baseballs off, my husband and I have come up with two tried and true suggestions for which games to attend:

  1. Go early in the season! It’s not usually as hot in late February/early March as it is just a couple weeks later. Those early-in-the-season games are clutch for a comfortable day.
  2. Go to a night game! I know it can interfere with bedtime routines, but every once in a while, break out and let loose! Night games are awesome because you can avoid the sun, but enjoy all the game time fun!

In past seasons, the Cubs’ Sloan Park and the Diamondbacks’ Salt River Fields have offered complimentary sunscreen around the parks. Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, these don’t look like they’ll be available for the 2022 season, so be sure to pack your own! 

Also, keep in mind that each stadium typically permits up to two factory-sealed bottled waters per person to be brought in to the stadium.

Spring Training FlagKid-Specific Activities!

Several stadiums offer kid-specific activities during game time! Check out Stomper’s Kid Zone at the A’s Hohokam Park, for example.  The Diamondbacks also offer the Cold Stone Kids Fun Field, but it appears to be closed for the 2022 season due to COVID-19.

Even if your specific stadium doesn’t offer a kid’s zone or kid’s club, make sure you pay attention to the comings and goings of the mascots! They are always friendly and ready to take a photo.

If you’re checking out a Diamondback’s game at Salt River Fields, don’t miss the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens! The site is free and located on the same grounds – check it out before the game since kiddos will probably be too riled up afterwards to appreciate it afterwards.

One last tip: be sure to bring masks for everyone in your family from age 2 on up – it’s looking like a universal requirement throughout the Cactus League!

Baseball is the greatest. Don’t believe me? Check out a Spring Training game using these tips and tell me if I haven’t made a believer out of you! 

Happy Spring Training, East Valley!!!

 

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