Whether you are a die hard baseball fan (like myself), someone who casually catches a game or two in a season, or someone looking to learn more about the sport, Maryland is chock full of baseball watching options.  Within about a two hour ride of Howard County, you can take in the action of three different Major League Baseball teams and 10 different Minor League Baseball teams. That is 13 different baseball teams that you could potentially check out at any given time.  Each of which has a different ballpark and experience for you and your family.

In this post, I am going to speak of my experiences with attending Baltimore Orioles and Bowie Baysox games, as those are the two teams that I visit the most.  I will also talk about how to save money bringing a family, and some fun promotions during the upcoming 2019 season.

Why Listen to Me About Baseball?

MacAloney Family at Orioles Game
Another great day at the Camden Yards with my girls.

Okay so you are reading this and wondering to yourself “Why should I believe this guy about bringing kids to baseball games?”  Well that is a great question. For the last five or six years, I have gone to an average of 35 baseball games a season. For about 20 of those games, I have brought one or both of my daughters and they absolutely love it.  In fact, as of me writing this article, my seven year old daughter has been to 10 different Major League Baseball stadiums and 16 different Minor League Baseball stadiums. My four year old daughter has been to seven different Major League Baseball stadiums and 11 different Minor League Baseball stadiums.  They are huge baseball fans and look at every game as a fun adventure.

Getting to Know the Area Teams

Earlier I mentioned that we are fortunate to have 13 different baseball teams within two hours.  In case that seems like a lot and you are wondering where they are, here is map of the teams and links to their websites.

Although I’ve been to almost every team mentioned above (exception Delmarva, Hagerstown, Potomac, and Richmond), the two teams that I visit the most are the Baltimore Orioles and Bowie Baysox.  Both teams offer completely different experiences for you and your family and I would like to outline some of the things that I love most about bringing my family to those games.

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles Park at Camden Yards - Home of the Baltimore Orioles
Orioles Park at Camden Yards – Home of the Baltimore Orioles

I have been to over 25 Major League Baseball stadiums in my life and my favorite stadium out there is the one in my backyard, Orioles Park at Camden Yards (OPACY).  There is just something majestic about this park. It is big, beautiful, classic and every seat in the house is a good one.

My family loves going to games at OPACY, mostly because it is a great place to watch a ball game, the fans are very friendly, and most importantly (to my girls), they have an amazing kids playground.  The children’s playground there includes a large treehouse playground for the kids to climb on, an inflatable bounce house, jug guns for the kids to measure how fast they can throw, and much more. It is a great place to head to after a few innings of the kids sitting patiently watching the game so that they can burn off some energy.  

My daughter testing out her throwing skills at Orioles Park at Camden Yards
My daughter testing out her throwing skills at Orioles Park at Camden Yards

Another reason we love going to OPACY is that you can bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks.  You read that right, you can bring your own food and drink into the stadium. For those of you who are on a limited budget or watching your dollars, this is a HUGE perk that does not really exist in many other baseball stadiums (major or minor league) around the country.  Many times we have stopped at Chipotle, Jimmy Johns or a hot dog/peanut vendor outside the stadium to pick up some food before heading into the game. This is a big deal, especially if you have some picky eaters in your house.

  • Pros:  You can bring in your own food and non-alcoholic drinks, excellent food and beer selection at a reasonable price (if you choose to buy there), free activities park for the kids, easily accessible by Light Rail, the ballpark is the Gold Standard of modern baseball parks, every seat is great.
  • Cons:  Parking can be costly and provide a long walk for little ones, on field product is not very good right now, lower level tickets can be a little pricey.  

Bowie Baysox

Prince George's Stadium - Home of the Bowie Baysox
Prince George’s Stadium – Home of the Bowie Baysox

One might say I am an obsessive Bowie Baysox and Minor League Baseball fan.  I think the roots behind that come from going to so many Maine Guides (former AAA baseball team) in Old Orchard Beach, Maine when I was a child.  Growing up outside Boston, going to a baseball game in Fenway was a big deal and it seemed like a huge stadium. So going to see the Guides play, being that close to the action on the field and meeting all the players was a dream come true.  Now that I am older and I have so many minor league baseball teams within a few hours of my house, I am like a kid in a candy store.

The Bowie Baysox play in Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, Maryland. From where I live in Elkridge, depending on the time of day, it is about a 40-45 minute ride. There is nothing special or overly beautiful about Prince George’s Stadium. However, the on field product, great views of the game, accessibility to to the players, amazing promotions (more detail on this below) and most importantly, exceptional customer service of the Bowie Baysox staff make going to the games a lot of fun.

When the kids are not watching the game and need to burn off some energy, the Bowie Baysox have a great little kids activities area that includes a merry-go-round, moon bounce, and batting and pitching games. You need to pay for children 3 and older to go on these rides, but the cost is minimal.

Image on the merry-go-round at the Baysox game.
On the Baysox Merry-Go-Round with my daughter.

Truth be told, I am a partial season ticket holder to the Bowie Baysox.  I found myself going to so many games every season, it just made sense to sign up for one of their Fielder’s Choice Flex Ticket Packages.  On top of being able to go to any game I want during the season, they also have the chance to take batting practice during the season, a season ticket holder picnic in the park, and other cool perks.  Nothing is cooler than being able to take batting practice with your kids in the same baseball stadium that many baseball legends have played in over the years.

Batting Practice in Prince George's Stadium, Home of the Bowie Baysox
Batting Practice in Prince George’s Stadium, Home of the Bowie Baysox
  • Pros:  Kids can easily meet and get autographs from players before the game, free parking close to stadium, reasonable ticket, food and drink prices, great seats anywhere in the stadium, lots of promotional games
  • Cons:  No outside food or drink allowed in the stadium, traffic getting to the stadium can be tough on weeknights, for busy games concession lines get very long, you must pay for children older 3 and older to play in the Kids Zone.  

Promotional Schedules/Theme Nights

My kids get so excited when the promotional schedules come out.  Seems like just about every team in the area has some sort of theme or giveaway for every game.  By having these game themes and promotional events, you and your kids really have a chance to turn “just another day at the ballpark” into a full blown experience that your kids will talk about for years to come.  Here are a few of our favorite promotions from the upcoming season:

  • Baltimore Orioles (see all promotions here)
    • Star Wars Night
      • Saturday, May 4 vs Tampa Bay Rays (7:05pm)
      • Star Wars Night BB-8 Beanie giveaway
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 15 & over
    • Mother’s Day
      • Sunday, May 12 vs Los Angeles Angels (1:05pm)
      • Mother’s Day Infinity Bracelet giveaway
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 18 & over
      • Kids run the bases after the game
    • Father’s Day
      • Sunday, June 16 vs Boston Red Sox (1:05pm)
      • Father’s Day Fedora giveaway
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 18 & over
      • Kids run the bases after the game
      • Father’s Day Catch on the Field special package
    • Halfway to Christmas Celebration
      • Tuesday, June 25 vs San Diego Padres (7:05pm)
      • Oriole Bird Nutcracker giveaway
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 15 & over
    • Orioles Maryland Flag Replica Jersey giveaway
      • Saturday, June 29 vs Cleveland Indians (4:05pm)
      • Giveaway for first 30,000 fans 15 & over
    • Brooks Robinson Bobblehead giveaway
      • Tuesday, July 16 vs Washington Nationals (7:05pm)
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 15 & over
    • Dashboard Hula Bird giveaway
      • Saturday, August 10 vs Houston Astros (7:05pm)
      • Giveaway for first 20,000 fans 15 & over
    • Orioles WB Mason Delivery Truck giveaway
      • Sunday, September 8 vs Texas Rangers (1:05pm)
      • Giveaway for first 7,500 fans 14 & under
      • Kids run the bases after the game
  • Bowie Baysox (see all promotions here)
    • Kids Opening Day w/ Pony Rides, Petting Zoo & More
      • Sunday, April 14 vs Harrisburg Senators (1:35pm)
      • Come out early for a pre-game Catch on the Field for kids of all ages (parents are welcome too. Will run from 12:30 – 1:00 pm)
      • Before the game, kids (12 & under) will get to meet and get autographs from some of the Baysox players (12:30 – 1 pm).
      • Stone Eagle Stables will also host Pony Rides & a Petting Zoo from 12:30 – 2:30 pm! There will be two ponies and over a dozen animals to see, pet, hold and enjoy!
      • There will be a special appearance by the Easter Bunny to take pictures with too!
    • Negro League Tribute and Buffalo Soldiers Tribute w/Fireworks
      • Saturday, May 11 vs Richmond Flying Squirrels (6:35pm)
      • Fans will be able to meet & get autographs from former Negro League Players. The players will also be honored in pre-game ceremonies.
      • Fans will also be able to learn about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers through interactive exhibits, reenactors and more!
      • Fireworks after the game.
    • Mother’s Day Celebration & Wine Glass Giveaway
      • Sunday, May 12 vs Richmond Flying Squirrels (1:35pm)
      • Bring Mom out to the ballpark for a fun day with the family! The first 500 moms will receive a Stemless Wine Glass | 1st 500 Moms (ages 21+)
      • Special Promotion: Mother’s Day Field Of Dreams Package:  Treat Mom to a VERY Special Mother’s Day with the kids on Sunday, May 12 with the Baysox Mother’s Day FIELD OF DREAMS Package!  This very limited package includes the opportunity to have Mom and the kids take the field with the Baysox Players during the National Anthem before the game on Mother’s Day! They will also be in the dugout to meet players and coaches and get autographs from them prior to taking the field for the Anthem.
    • Star Wars Night and Bud Light 1K Beer Run w/Fireworks
      • Saturday, June 1 vs Hartford Yard Goats (6:35pm)
      • Star Wars fans will not want to miss this awesome night! Interact with dozens of costumed Star Wars Characters in movie-quality costumes. There are also Interactive Star Wars Exhibits, performances and more!
      • After the game, enjoy a Star Wars themed Fireworks Spectacular.
      • Bud Light 1K Beer Run where you can Run, Jog or Walk the field w/ 3 beers, a Box Seat game ticket & a Baysox Hat for just $21!  A Special Ticket and pre-registration is required. Must be 21+ to participate.
    • Father’s Day Celebration, Play Catch on Field & Beer Glass Giveaway
      • Sunday, June 16 vs Trenton Thunder (1:35pm)
      • Celebrate Dad at the Baysox on Father’s Day! The first 500 Dads (ages 21+) will get a Baysox Beer Glass – perfect for a tasty cold one on any day of the year!
      • Come on out to the ballpark early and bring a glove and baseball and play catch with Dad on the Baysox field before the game! Catch on the Field runs from 12:15 – 1:00 pm.
    • Latin Baseball Day, Helicopter Candy Drop, Chrome Run Car Show & Meet The Team Day
      • Sunday, June 30 vs Akron Rubber Ducks (1:35pm)
      • The Cangrejos Fantasmas de Chesapeake (Chesapeake Ghost Crabs) take the field for the “Fun Cup” Series & Celebrate Latin Baseball Day!
      • Come out before the game for the first of two Meet The Team Day events! Meet & get autographs from Baysox Players and coaches from 12:00 – 12:45 pm.
      • Team Photo Giveaway! First ever Team Photo of the boys in their Cangrejos Fantasmas uniforms!
      • After the game, all kids ages 12 & under will be invited onto the field for the largest Candy Drop in the region! Over 10,000 pieces of candy will be dropped onto the field by a helicopter for kids to grab!
      • Chrome Run Car Show:  Join the Asphalt Angels and the Bowie Baysox for one of the biggest car shows around the region as we combine together for a fun day at the ballpark on Sunday, June 30 for the second annual Chrome Run Car Show!  The car show will begin at 10:30 am & run until 1:15 pm.
    • Fireworks, Island Luau Night & T-Shirt Giveaway
      • Saturday, July 6 vs Harrisburg Senators (6:35pm)
      • Enjoy the sounds of the Islands w/ live music, Hula Dancer performances & and an amazing fire knife dancers event!
      • Get to the ballpark early to get your Baysox Luau T-Shirt! Giveaway begins at 5:30 pm and is for the first 500 fans (13+).
      • After the game, enjoy a Luau themed Fireworks Spectacular with live music!
    • Fireworks, Touch A Truck Day & Kids Backpack Giveaway
      • Saturday, August 3 vs Portland Sea Dogs (6:35pm)
      • Come out early for the largest Touch A Truck event in the area! See and interact with over 30 large construction, work and emergency vehicles from 4:30 – 6:30 pm!
      • The first 500 kids ages 3-12 to enter the main stadium gates beginning at 5:00 pm will get an awesome back to school backpack courtesy of Miss Utility!
    • Fan Appreciation Day, Meet The Team Day & Play Catch on Field
      • Sunday, August 25 vs Altoona Curve (1:35pm)
      • Come out for the final regular season game of the 2019 season! Join the Baysox for a pre-game Meet The Team Day Autograph Session or bring a ball and glove and play catch on the field. Both events will run from 12:00 – 12:30 pm.
      • The first 500 fans (ages 13+) will also receive a special Fan Appreciation Day giveaway!.
      • There will be an opportunity to win prizes and have a lot of fun during the last game of the regular season!

Tips for Attending a Game

Getting Tickets for Baseball Games

Unlike professional football games and outside of baseball’s opening day, most baseball games here in the Mid Atlantic region do not sell out.  So unless I am looking to get my family into a specific game or specific seats to a game, I typically do not buy tickets until the day of the game.  Most of the teams have plenty of tickets available and the lines to buy tickets at the stadium are short and move relatively quick. This saves me from having to pay administrative or processing fees that ticket companies charge.

Another thing to look for is specially priced children’s tickets. Many teams offer discounted tickets for children and seniors. In fact, depending on the age of your child and the baseball team’s ticketing policy, if you bring an infant or toddler to the game, you likely will not need to pay for them to get into the stadium.

Consider the Time of Year and Weather

I have seen them all.  From an Opening Day in Baltimore in 2003 with a snow delay to a summer inter league game where the temperature at first pitch was 101°F in the shade.  Baseball is a long season and there are extreme temperature shifts during the season. Keep this in mind when picking a game to attend with your child.  Having a four year old at a game where the temperature is 90°F+ in the summer is not fun for me and I am willing to bet it will not be fun for you.

What to Bring

Depending on the age of your kids, you may wish to bring varying things to a game.

  • Infants
    • Diaper Bag Items – Most, if not all ballparks that I have attended have a changing table in both the men’s and women’s rooms. When bringing an infant, bring the usual stuff (extra diapers, wipes, bib, change of clothes).
    • Toys – While they are awake, they may get fidgety. Be sure to bring some small toys for the baby to play with.
    • Food/Drink – Regardless of the food/drink policy at the stadium, I have never had a security guard tell me I could not bring in some sort of baby food, baby snacks, fruit, or drinks into the game. Bring it as most ballpark food will probably not be appropriated for infants.
    • Cargo Shorts – Shove diapers, wipes and a pacifier into the pockets and leave that bulky diaper bag at home!
    • Baby Carrier – Most ballparks make you park the stroller at the front gate, so bringing a baby carrier (like a Baby Bjorn) will work out great. I brought my little ones to many games in their Bjorn.
My daughter's first Orioles Opening Day at 3 months old.
My daughter’s first Orioles Opening Day at 3 months old.
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers
    • Diaper Bag Items – Yeah sure your kid might be potty trained, but sometimes accidents happen and the kid cannot get to the bathroom in time due to long lines or them telling you they have to go to the bathroom at the last minute. Or they might spill ice cream or a drink all over their clothes. Even with toddlers and preschoolers, bringing wipes and a change of clothes is not at a bad idea at all. Trust me, I have been without these items and had to leave a game or two early. I would never make that mistake again.
    • Toys – Toddlers and preschoolers may still be young enough to not be fully attentive the whole game. Bringing a coloring book or toys is always still a great idea.
  • Elementary School Kids
    • Glove – Sometime the players may want to toss a ball into the stands to your kid. It happens a lot. How cool would it be for them to have a glove to help them catch that ball?
    • Baseball, Program, Baseball Cards, Pen and Marker – Nothing excites a kid more than getting an autograph from any player on the team. At pretty much any Minor League Baseball game I have attended, players will give autographs. Do not let your kid be the only one there without something to get autographed. Bring along something for the players to sign. The reaction from your kids will be priceless!
My daughter getting an autograph at the Baysox game
My daughter getting an autograph at the Baysox game….yes she’s dressed up as Rey from Star Wars
  • Middle School or High School Kids
    • Glove – Yeah it is still fun for high school and middle school kids to have their glove at the game.
    • Baseball Scoring Book and a Pen – There was nothing cooler than when I learned how to score a baseball game. Most teams have scorecards that they give away at games for you to fill out. If not, you could buy a book and teach your child to score a game. Or if you do not know how to do it, learn to score the game together. It is a lot of fun!
  • Everyone
    • Sunscreen and Hats – Some stadiums have sunscreen available to their fans, but do not count on it. Children have sensitive skin, so make sure they are fully protected from the sun.
    • Refillable Water Bottles – All stadiums have water fountains. Drinking water from the fountain sure beats paying $4.00 for a 16oz bottle of water.

How to Save Money

Register Your Kids for a Kids Club

Most baseball teams that I have seen have a Kids Club of some sort. The Baltimore Orioles have the Junior Orioles Dugout Club and the Bowie Baysox have the Baysox Futures Club . Other clubs in the area have similar programs which have special perks for the children who join, such as free tickets, discounted tickets for their parents/guardians, special on the field opportunities, gift packs, and much more. Some cost money and some are free.

Orioles Dugout Club Logo
  • Junior Orioles Dugout Club – For $25, all kids 14 and under can join. The dugout club fan kit includes a backpack, cap, lanyard, club card, and Orioles ear buds. Plus, each package will receive a ticket to six (6) pre-selected Sunday home games. Account holders will receive an email for a complimentary ticket, along with the option to purchase discounted tickets to each of the six (6) pre-selected Sunday home games.
    • AUTHOR’S OPINION: As a former Junior Orioles Dugout Club member, this was a fun club to be part of. The fan kit alone was worth the cost of the club membership. However, a change to the program this year moved all the games to Sundays as opposed to a mix of weekend and weeknight games. Sunday games during the summer are during the day and can be brutally hot. Since my kids prefer night games, we decided to not sign up for the club this year. However, this is a great club if Sunday baseball fit into your family’s schedule.
Baysox Futures Club Logo
  • Baysox Futures Club – This club is for free for kids 3 – 12 to join. Members of the club will get access to Members Only Special Events each month, Discount Ticket Offers, and a gift at their first baseball game.
    • AUTHOR’S OPINION: Ever since both of my daughters have been 3 years old, they have been members of the Baysox Futures Club. The nice part is the club is free and the kids get a cool Baysox prize (in the past we have received Baysox themed t-shirts and socks). There are designated Futures Club games during the season that the kids get discounted tickets to and that will save you some money as well. However, I think the best part of the club is getting emails reminding you of cool events that the Baysox put on geared towards the kids.

Orioles Kids Cheer Free Program

Orioles Kids Cheer Free graphic

One of the best programs to make baseball accessible to families has to be the Baltimore Orioles Kids Cheer Free program. This very popular initiative which debuted during the 2018 season allows fans ages nine and younger to attend games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards free of charge. For each regularly-priced individual game Upper Deck ticket purchased, adults can add up to two additional free Upper Deck tickets valid for use only by children age nine and under.

For more information on the program, please go to the Kids Cheer Free website.

Bottom Line on Baseball Games With Kids

I love baseball. I am passionate about the pageantry and strategy of the game. I am constantly looking forward to exploring the features of what makes each baseball stadium I visit unique. The sights, sounds and smell (mmmm hot dogs) at every game I attend bring me to a place where I am relaxed and can forget about the stresses of every day life for a few hours. And now that I am a Dad, I am able to share those same loves of the game with my little girls, the same way my father and grandfather did with me 40 or so years ago.

You may look at going to a game in a completely different way and that is okay. Maybe you are passionate about the game like I am. Maybe you just look at it as a potentially fun outing with your family. However you view the game and whatever your motivation for attending a game may be, I hope that this post helps you plan properly for your outing and ultimately, that you and your family have a great time at the game.