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There’s something irresistible about a minor league ballpark. Reasonably-priced game tickets, for one thing. Quirky digs and local flavor, for another. Some teams woo with crazy concessions, others with over-the-top entertainment zones — in case you’re not really there for the baseball. And all of them offer something out of the ordinary.
Here are five minor league ballparks worth a trip, starting with a charming Northern California stadium.
- Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark: The home of the Stockton Ports, an Oakland A’s affiliate, this ballpark holds 5,200 fans and a whole lot of history. Locals say Stockton was the inspiration for Ernest Thayer’s famous 1888 poem, “Casey at the Bat.” Grab a bite at the park’s Casey’s Corner Grill — a nod to the mighty slugger who whiffed when it mattered. Head for the cart behind Section 117 for fried asparagus stalks — Stockton’s most celebrated crop — coated in tempura batter. Or head for the park’s Back Porch, whose rocking chairs-with-a-view and all-you-can-eat buffet got a shout-out from ESPN.
- Michigan’s C.O. Brown Stadium: Ever since the Battle Creek Bombers introduced their hot dog-stuffed Twinkie topped with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles a few years ago, they’ve tried to top themselves. So far, the follow-ups have included Leggo My Eggo burgers, Poptarkos and the Cheboygaroni and Cheese, served in a hollowed-out orange. Suddenly, garlic fries sound so boring.
- Texas’ Dr Pepper Ballpark: The Frisco RoughRiders’ stadium took the idea of “ballpark swimming pool” — that’s a thing in the south — and kicked it up a million notches or so when they opened the stadium’s Choctaw Lazy River in 2016. Now fans can float along a figure eight-shaped waterway, tucked just above the outfield, aboard inner tubes as they watch the game.
- Iowa’s Modern Woodmen Park: It’s not the hot tub and tiki village on the banks of the Mississippi River that wowed us. It was the “Field of Dreams” style cornfield in the outfield at this ball park that’s home to the Quad Cities River Bandits.
- South Carolina’s TicketReturn.com Field: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ home turf has a beach. No surfing, but you can enjoy your Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza-burger — a patty tucked between two deep-dish pies — from a beach chair nestled into the sandy expanse that runs down the left-field line.
5 quirky minor league ballparks, from Stockton to Frisco (Texas, that is)