What is summer without baseball? It’s not much of a summer for us. Steve and I grew up watching the Atlanta Braves. I was so obsessed I once snuck my transistor radio into church so I could listen to the game. Our unofficial “first date” was to a Rome Braves game. Rome is the closest minor league ballpark to us so we go as often as we can.

We have found that we enjoy the game just as much at the minor league ballparks as we do at major league ones. We’ve also been to some games involving collegiate teams. Here are five reasons why you should make them a part of your plans.

You might see a future Hall of Famer or Cy Young award winner

We live near Rome, Georgia, the home of the Atlanta Braves high A minor league team. Often, some of the big leaguers will be sent to Rome for rehab assignments. We saw former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel pitch in Rome a few years ago. I didn’t get close to him. But I got a terrible picture that I can’t believe I am sharing. That’s the back of his head.

Several famous Braves’ players started in Rome. Jeff Francoeur, who is now an announcer for the Atlanta Braves started in Rome. So did Freddie Freeman-I am still working through my feelings about his defection to Los Angeles. In some parks, minor leaguer ball players love to give out autographs. I would love to find out what happened to the young men we met at a Bristol State Liners game, a collegiate team that plays on the Tennessee-Virginia state line. I wonder if they are on a big league team now.

Where else can you see the “Bacon” play a flock of flock of Flamingos?

Minor League and collegiate teams have some creative names. Our favorite is the Macon Bacon, a collegiate team. This was the first time I had a picture made with bacon. And yes, we chose this game because they were playing the Florence Flamingos. If you are new here, I am one of those crazy flamingo ladies.

The baseball parks are also unique. If you go to a Chattanooga Lookouts game, you have to take an escalator up to get to the park. Our most unusual game was at the Bristol State Liners in Virginia. They play behind a football field and a Dollar General.

Georgia’s most famous minor league team is the Savannah Banana Peels. I have yet to make it to one of their games but it’s on my list, along with a trip to Huntsville, Alabama to see the Trash Pandas. Winston-Salem’s collegiate team has my favorite name–the Disco Turkeys. I was disappointed to read on their website that not all of the music played is disco. But I still want to go.

Enjoy some creative dishes

You can “bacon” everything at the Macon Bacon game. Or you can have bacon wrapped in bacon, which is what Steve enjoyed.

While that’s about as unusual as we have tried at a minor league or collegiate game, we’ve heard about some strange ones. Spicy chicken doughnut anyone? Check out this story from Major League Baseball for that and some other interesting foods. I am very curious about the food offered at the Disco Turkeys game.

Learn some baseball history

Some of baseball’s best known players took the field at Macon’s Luther Williams Park, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio and Jackie Robinson all played there. You can learn more about their appearances in a series of posters outside of the statement. Macon was also home to the Atlanta Braves “A” division. As a lifelong Braves fan, I enjoyed learning about my favorites who played there.

Even new ballparks are finding a way to pay homage to baseball history. The Rome Braves have displays about the town’s baseball history.

See a great baseball game without breaking the bank

Most of the minor league or collegiate baseball parks we visit have great seats for less than $20. The teams also have special promotions from time to time that include your ticket price and food. An extra bonus for the over 50 crowd–that’s us–you don’t have to pay a fortune to park and still have to walk a mile to the game. One downside: The seats may not be as comfortable as they are at the minor league ball parks. You can purchase a better seat at the Macon Bacon but they were sold out when we bought our tickets. So we sat in the bleachers. It was a little rough.

Do you have a favorite minor league baseball team? Or have you tried some cool food at a ballpark? Let us know in the comments.

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