The Washington area is home to several minor league baseball teams that give players a chance to develop their skills and advance their hopes to play in the big leagues. They are operated as independent businesses, and most teams are directly affiliated with one major league team.
This is a great benefit for residents of the Washington metropolitan area, who can catch some live baseball without shelling out big bucks to go see the Nationals or Orioles or deal with the hassle of getting to Nationals Park, in the Navy Yard neighborhood of the nation's capital, or Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The games are played in suburban stadiums that provide a family-friendly atmosphere and are a great venue for introducing kids to the great American pastime. Here's a guide to the minor league baseball teams in Maryland and Virginia in the Capital Region.
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Owned by former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., the IronBirds play in a modern stadium with open-air concourses, party decks, and comfortable seats. Activities for kids include claw machines, an inflatable slide, a speed gun to clock your fastball, and an arcade-style Wiffle ball game. Adjacent to the stadium is Ripken’s youth baseball complex, which features fields modeled after famous stadiums, including a miniature Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Ripken Stadium is in Aberdeen, Maryland, and the team is a Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
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The kids’ park has a carousel, a moon bounce, a test-your-speed pitching area, and an inflatable Wiffle ball batting cage. Between-innings activities include three-legged races and races atop inflatable rocking horses. Kids get to run the bases after every game. The Bowie Baysox play at Prince George’s Stadium, in Bowie, Maryland, and are the Orioles’ Class AA franchise.
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Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland, dates back to 1930 when the legendary Babe Ruth was the king of baseball. Renovations in 2010 and 2011 included upgrades to the playing surface, better seats, and the installation of a state-of-the-art video board. Between innings, fans participate in three-legged races, and kids guess the price of ice cream in a “Price Is Right”-type game, with prizes awarded to the winners. The Hagerstown Suns are a Nationals’ low Class A affiliate.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Over the years, seven major league teams have operated the franchise now called the Potomac Nationals, and the team has undergone many name changes. A Kids Zone has all of the minor league park staples, including a moon bounce, inflatable slide, and pitching and hitting areas. Mascot Uncle Slam wanders around the stadium to entertain the crowd. The stadium is the centerpiece of the Prince William County sports complex, which features a half-dozen softball fields. The Potomac Nationals are a Nationals’ high Class A affiliate and play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia.
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Technically, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs aren’t a minor league team since they belong to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. But the accessibility and satisfaction are pretty much the same. They are owned by former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson. Activities include bumper boats and Pinch’s Playground, a place just for kids with inflatables and a rock wall. The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Maryland.