Spring Training Baseball with Kids (what you need to know)

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Take me out to Spring Training,
Grab a seat on the lawn.
Bring me some snacks and a sippy cup;
I won’t wear that hat (don’t even try!) for it’s
Really close to my NAP TIME,
Don’t mind if I snooze right here. ‘Cause it’s
Three! Two! One! –and I’m out
At the old ball game!

Spring training baseball games fall at one of two times: 1:05pm or 7:05pm. Do those times ring a bell to you? Ding ding! Naptime and bedtime! Not exactly your family-friendly weekend outing, unless you get really creative.

(If you’re new around these parts, you may not know that I am a self-professed Nap Nazi and general Crazy Sleep Person.)

But let’s assume that you are not a crazy sleep person like I am, or that you love baseball so much that you’re willing to mess with nap schedules to see your favorite team play. Here’s what our family did to enjoy a day game at Hohokam Park in Mesa this weekend, and some tips for making your spring training experience fun – even with little ones in tow:

  1. Forget about staying the whole time. A 1:05pm start on a warm March day meant there was no way our almost-4- and almost-2-year-olds were going to make it through the whole game (during what would normally be nap time/quiet time). We went with the come-early/leave-early plan, arriving at Hohokam by 11:30am and leaving a little before 2:00pm.
  2. Forget about actually watching the game. We went for the total Cactus League experience. We had lunch, we watched batting practice, we sang the National Anthem. We didn’t actually see a lot of baseball. This was not the day to analyze every last pitch. That’s why there are 162 games in a season, right?
  3. Stake your claim on the lawn. Lawn seats are cheapest, and they’re also great for young kids. If you get to the park early, you’ll likely have your pick of the whole place. I recommend sitting close to the outfield fence where there’s a little strip of sidewalk-like cement the kids like to run up and down, and although we brought my trusty JJ Cole picnic blanket, I wish we’d actually packed a second blanket to make our seating area a little bigger. Once the lawn fills up, your only space will be the blanket you bring to sit on, so consider bringing a BIG one, or doubling up with two.
  4. Assume it will be 10 degrees hotter than the forecast predicts. The game-time temperature when we went was in the high seventies, but when you’ve gotten used to our lovely Arizona winters and you’re sitting directly in the sun for a couple hours, it feels hotter. That means the basics for kids and grownups alike: sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and water.
  5. Read up on stadium FAQ’s. A few years ago we brought a stroller to a spring training game, only to be told at the entrance that we couldn’t bring it in. Good thing I checked the Hohokam Stadium FAQ’s on their website, because strollers actually ARE allowed at this park. Wherever you’re going, make sure you know what you can and can’t bring inside (usually formula and baby food are fine but additional outside food is not; I may have smuggled a few kid-friendly snacks in my diaper bag…shhhhhh…). I also brought water bottles for the kids and a huge roll of paper towels for messes – both of which were super helpful.

I will say that none of the tips listed here will do you any good if you don’t have CA$H on hand – hit up an ATM before you head to the ballpark, because you’ll need it for everything from parking to beer to that hat you meant to bring for your fair-headed toddler but somehow inexplicably did not.

Here are a few photos from our fun day this weekend. I hope you get a chance to experience the Cactus League with your family – I promise, it’s even worth a missed naptime or two.

For the record, we didn’t get anything for free, nor was I compensated for writing this post – this is just straight-up mom-to-mom insight. 🙂 I am excited to tell you, however, that the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau is planning a Spring Training giveaway next week – check back on the blog next Tuesday for the details!

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