Since the first professional baseball game was held in the late 1800s, the sport has exploded in popularity and has become an integral part of American history. Sure, it’s the national pastime, but it’s also big business, attracting new fans to stadiums each year.
However, not everybody understands what to expect at their first baseball game.
I attended my first Major League Baseball game when I was nine years old, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. That was a long time ago, but I can still remember how quickly my senses were overwhelmed – by the sight of so many people, by the sound of pops and cracks coming from the field, and by the aroma of peanuts and hot dogs.
Those feelings often come rushing back when I attend a baseball game. And yes, it’s something you can experience, too.
If you’re considering that first step of attending a game for the first time, we’ve put together a brief guide that can help you maximize your baseball game experience. Let’s take a closer look.
1) Research the teams that are playing
You will have a lot more fun if you know who is playing and what to expect. Take some time to learn more about the team’s history, current standings, and players.
It will also help if you familiarize yourself with the rules of the game so that you can understand what is happening on the field. Otherwise, you may find yourself confused when the crowd reacts to a certain play or scenario.
For example, people new to the sport often don’t understand that the batter is considered out if the ball reaches the first baseman and he touches first base with part of his body before the runner makes it to first base.
In context, you will see the defending team field the ball, throw it to the first baseman, and then the first baseman will immediately throw the ball to another team member. You might also notice that the runner slows his pace after the ball reaches the first baseman.
2) Dress comfortably
Baseball games usually last around three hours, so you need to make sure that you are comfortable for the duration.
Wear shoes that won’t hurt your feet and clothes that won’t be too hot or too cold. If the game is outdoors, bring a lightweight jacket or sweater just in case. Depending on the region in which you watch the game (and if the stadium you’re in doesn’t have a roof), rain could fall unexpectedly.
Even though baseball season runs through the summer, temperatures can dip quite a bit after nightfall in many cities.
The last thing you want is to be unprepared. This could detract from your experience and give you an inaccurate impression of what an MLB game is truly like.
3) Bring your own snacks and drinks
You don’t have to spend a fortune on food at the stadium if you bring your own snacks and drinks. Make sure that whatever you bring is allowed in the stadium, though! Each MLB ballpark has its own rules regarding fans bringing their own food.
Fruits, nuts, sandwiches, and water bottles are all great options for keeping yourself fed and hydrated throughout the game. However, it’s worth noting that many baseball stadiums have amazing food. Hot dogs and nachos are standard fare, but nearly every stadium offers gourmet and unique options specific to the city in which it’s located.
Just be sure to bring that credit card! Stadium food is often more expensive than similar meals you would find somewhere else, and many venues these days have gone cashless.
4) Buy tickets ahead of time
If you know what team you are going to see, buy your tickets ahead of time. This will save you money and hassle when you get to the stadium. You can also try to find discounted tickets online or through a secondary ticket source such as StubHub if they’re available.
This is particularly advisable if you’re planning to attend on a weekend – Saturdays and Sundays are nearly always the most well-attended days – or on holidays such as July 4, when most teams will stage postgame fireworks shows.
In general, the earlier you buy the tickets, the better off your situation will be.
5) Arrive early
Getting to the stadium early will give you time to explore, buy souvenirs, and grab something to eat before the game starts. This way, you won’t be stuck in line right before first pitch.
You’ll also have plenty of time to find your seat and get settled in for the game. Many people find it unpleasant to navigate through crowded sections in order to find their seats. This is particularly true for those who are visiting a stadium for the first time.
Arriving early also allows you to watch the teams warm up (batting practice usually concludes about 45 minutes before first pitch) and the grounds crew prepare the field. Although not quite as exciting as the game, many people find this to be an essential part of the experience.
6) Sit in different sections of the stadium
If you can, try to sit in different parts of the stadium during your first game. This will give you a better understanding of what it’s like to watch from different angles and perspectives.
Sitting close to the field can be great for watching home runs and foul balls up close, but sitting in the upper levels can give you an overall view of the entire game.
As you might guess, this isn’t always a possibility. Some stadiums are fully packed during high-profile games. If you do have the opportunity, though, you should switch seats each inning so that you can learn more about where you like to sit the most.
In most ballparks, ushers are fine with this as long as you aren’t disrupting other fans, but you’ll likely be asked to show your ticket if you try to access a higher-priced section such as behind home plate.
7) Don’t forget to have fun!
The most important tip of all is to have fun! Baseball games are meant to be enjoyed, so don’t forget why you’re there. Enjoy the atmosphere, cheer with other fans, and soak in every moment of your first game. You can also take some time to check out the surrounding area before or after the game.
This is especially entertaining if you traveled to a new city to watch the game.
Make your first baseball game unforgettable
Following these tips will ensure that you have an amazing experience at your first baseball game. From here, you’ll be able to have the best experience possible and fully enjoy what the sport has to offer.
Looking for more information on how to improve your time at the game? You can check out this resource to learn which stadiums are best to visit.
About Edward de la Fuente | Itinerant Fan
I live for sports, and I love to travel. My biggest thrill is combining the two. I’ve been blogging about sports travel for more than a decade, and traveling for sports for twice as long. To find out more, check out our About page.
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