Baseball Fan Mistakes I Used To Make

Posted by Kurt Smith on Saturday, January 3, 2015
Since I've started researching everything there is to know about various baseball venues, I've learned a lot. Some things have saved me money, some things have saved me time, and some things have saved me a lot of aggravation.

Even I still don't always get it right going to a game, but I've definitely learned to avoid certain pitfalls. Here's a list of four mistakes I used to make in my misspent youth...

1) Buying tickets from the team website. By itself, this isn't always the worst thing to do. Many teams, like the Brewers and Nationals, offer pretty good ticket deals on their website, and buying from the team at face value can be your best option for a high demand game.


But over the years I could have saved a TON of money by exploring all of the other options...like StubHub, eBay and other third parties (especially now that SeatGeek is a help with that), checking to see if there are sites like Travelzoo that offer deals, or simply buying from the team box office. I can easily stop at the box office in Philly since it's close; most games aren't sold out and you can find some seats on game day and pay the ticket without the obnoxious fees. Game day ticket sales are very popular at Fenway in Boston too.

You're also limited in your choices from the team, although this has been changing. When you order from the Phillies, for example, you select an area of seats and the "best available" (or so they say) ticket is put in front of you to buy. On third party sites like StubHub, you can choose the exact section you want to sit and see what is available and the pricing.

Teams are getting better at this, though. The Yankees and White Sox, for example, have seating maps that show the exact seats that are available, which is even better than StubHub. Remember though, you're still paying the ticket fees.

2) Not looking into all my transportation options. Just driving to the ballpark and hoping to find a good parking spot is not a great strategy, and will likely result in your fuming at both the traffic and the cost of parking. I have had many a ballgame experience at least temporarily marred by this frustration, especially when visiting a ballpark for the first time.



I used to be able to tolerate the traffic on downtown Baltimore when I was able to park in a garage for $5, but since they're nowhere near that cheap anymore, I just use the Light Rail if I'm by myself and park for free in Lutherville. With other people, I'll use ParkWhiz.

In my first visit to Comerica Park in Detroit, I paid $20 to park almost at the front door, because I was concerned about leaving my car too far away in Detroit. This was 2001 money, so $20 was a lot to park. In my second visit a year later, I accidentally stumbled on a cool tip, parking at the Fox Theatre garage much earlier in the day and paying just $2 for the whole night. And it was just a few steps futher away.

I drove my car to Citi Field once too. Once.

3) Just getting a hot dog at the game. OK, maybe that's not really a mistake. Nowhere does a hot dog taste better. But until researching Citizens Bank Park...and this is my home ballpark...I didn't know about the roast pork and provolone from Tony Luke's, the Campo's Heater sandwich, the Schmitter, or the Bull Dog from Bull's BBQ. Seriously. And I wouldn't have a clue what Federal Donuts was. Talk about missing out.



Nowadays every ballpark has so many great food choices that it's worth checking it out beforehand and deciding what you might like. At ballpark prices, don't just get a simple hot dog and popcorn. Next time you're at Citi Field, try Pat LaFrieda's meatball sliders. Or the Carl's cheesesteak at Yankee Stadium. Don't leave PNC Park in Pittsburgh without trying a Primanti Bros. sandwich with fries and slaw piled on. And a Holeman & Finch burger at Turner Field is worth the price of a Braves game ticket.

4) Not knowing about the local scene. For years I bought one beer at Camden Yards because I didn't want to (and still don't) pay ballpark prices for beer. It never occurred to me that I could knock down a couple of cheap Natty Bohs across the street at Slider's before the game. I made two visits to Cincinnati to see Reds games without having any clue about the restaurants and nightlife across the river in Newport. There's a great bunch of eateries near E. 4th Street in Cleveland, just a short walk from Progressive Field.



And would you believe I didn't even notice the tailgating party in my first trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee? Nor did I know about the sheer number of taverns that would have given me a ride to the game.

Knowing what I know now, I suppose it's a testament to how much of a baseball fan I am that I enjoyed the games anyway. My father taught me well.

But it's so much better now that I know what I'm doing.


Tags: all parks 
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