First off, I wanted to extend a very special thanks to everyone reading this blog, and to the friends and family who have supported me on this journey. Thanks to some of those people, I have been able to extend this trip into something I didn’t think was possible. Originally, I only had the intent of exploring the northeast United States and seeing what those ballparks had to offer. Now this has become a quest to do something that not many people have done in a short period, and that’s to visit all thirty ballparks in the major leagues. Secondly, I’d like to extend my thanks to another enthusiastic baseball fan also in the game show circle. Because of him, I was able to watch a game in another stadium for free. Also, to another reader who wanted me to come out and visit for another game. Finally, thanks to some of my family in north Texas for a great family outing in a great ballpark that I hadn’t visited in over a decade.
As I previously mentioned, those games took place in Colorado, and in a “Texas Two Step” through the two parks in that state. That would make eleven in this “ballpark tour” alone. If I include Boston earlier this year for Boston Marathon weekend, that would make twelve this season. I do plan on a trip back home to Anaheim, and that would make thirteen. More on the rest of my plans at the end of this blog post.
On to the main reason for this article, I thought I would dedicate this post to some of the freebies you can get at each stadium as a memento of your trip. When I first visited Wrigley Field, I was asked by a friendly usher if it was my first time there. After I responded that it was, I was urged to visit the fan center to get my free gift. I thought to myself, “Wow, they give a free gift to first-time guests? Awesome!” I was then given a free certificate saying that this was my first visit to the Friendly Confines. It was the first I had heard of such a thing happening at a stadium.
Upon visiting several stadiums during this trip, I discovered that the first-time free gift was something very special, and gives visiting fans a sense of belonging to that new place. I learned that Dodger Stadium does give a gift to first-time fans, but don’t know what that consists of. As for most other ballparks, they will give a first-time certificate for new fans attending a game there. Sadly, I missed this chance at Citi Field where you get one signed by Mr. Met! During this trip, so far, I have received certificates from the following: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, New York (Yankee Stadium), and Houston. Two stadiums didn’t offer certificates, instead offering first game pins from Fenway Park and Coors Field.
Of course, another small thing you can get from any stadium is a pocket schedule of the home team. That may be a small thing to have, but when you travel to different stadiums, those pocket schedules begin to accumulate, and when you look at them all together, it forms something amazing and turns into a colorful cornucopia.
However, there are other freebies out there that you can receive at each ballpark. The Dodgers love their youth, and not only do they offer a FREE Jr. Dodgers program, but kids 3 and under get in for free. Then again, this policy is true for most (not all) ballparks. Also, most ballparks offer a designated driving program which allows you to get a free small (or medium at Camden Yards) drink at any regular concession stand. Of course, this means you can’t drink any alcohol, but free soda isn’t too bad. Some ballparks also offer free programs, rosters, and complimentary score cards for your use. These are neat items to preserve your trip, if you decide to visit several parks.
Don’t forget those fun promotional items that you may receive upon entry. Dodger Stadium has some incredible promotions every year, and this season, I have received a Don Newcombe replica jersey, and awesome Dodger mini-speakers. During Military Day at San Diego, I received a US flag, which will fly for many years. I also got TWO promotional items from Baltimore, an Orioles tote bag, and an awesome vintage ¾ sleeve shirt.
Also of note during this trip, Philadelphia did offer a free autograph session, and this is true for some Saturdays. However, Baltimore wins the award for going above and beyond for free stuff. The Chevy booth (which comes through periodically) not only offers a free t-shirt, but there was also a trivia contest where the winner would receive a $10 gift card to the team shop (I tried once, and didn’t win). Since I told the friendly ushers at the fan center about my trip, they were gracious enough to give me brochures, pictures, and post cards, which I gave to several friends. Also, Baltimore offers free things by checking in with the MLB At the Ballpark app. (Check out the LINK here for more) Most importantly, if you are an active member of the military and show your proof of active duty (with a military card), you will receive a free military themed Orioles cap. I got a look at them, and they look pretty great.
Now, I have decided to make it fifteen ballparks this year to finish off the season by making a trip to the Bay Area to see games in both Oakland and San Francisco. That is HALF of the MLB ballparks in just one season, which is an accomplishment in itself… and a plethora of freebies. I will end this blog post with a simple thought I posed to myself, “If I can get to half of all the ballparks this season, is it possible to get to the other fifteen next season?” Stay tuned, folks!