When it comes to enjoying a summer day with the family, there are few activities more American than going to a baseball game. If you're visiting the capital region and want to attend a great without paying the big bucks for a Major League Baseball (MLB) event, there are a number of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams playing in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. this season.
The Aberdeen IronBirds, Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns, Potomac Nationals, and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are all based in the capital region. Their games are mostly played in suburban stadiums, which provide a family-friendly atmosphere perfect for introducing your kids to this American pastime without having to deal with the hassle of getting to Nationals Park in D.C.'s Navy Yard neighborhood or Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Although operated as independent companies, these teams are often affiliated with certain MLB teams.
Owned by former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., the IronBirds play on Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, a modern stadium with open-air concourses, party decks, and comfortable seats in Aberdeen, Maryland.
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.
The Aberdeen IronBirds play in the New York-Penn League and are a Short-Season A classification team affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles. Games are regularly scheduled each year between mid-June through early September with fireworks every Friday night all summer long.
The Bowie Baysox are the Class AA Affiliate team for the Baltimore Orioles that play in the MiLB's Eastern League. Home games take place at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, Maryland, which is just a few miles east of Washington, D.C.
Prince George's Stadium is especially great for families. The kids’ park has a carousel, a moon bounce, a test-your-speed pitching area, and an inflatable Wiffleball batting cage. Between-innings activities include three-legged races and races atop inflatable rocking horses, and kids get to run the bases after every game.
The Bowie Baysox's season usually starts in early to mid-April and lasts through early September. In addition to occasional weekend fireworks from April through September, the ballpark also offers special youth birthday party packages and catered group events.
The 5,500-seat Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Maryland, was built in 1990 and is home to the Frederick Keys, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles that play in the Carolina League of the MiLB. At the park, kids can enjoy the Fun Zone, which includes a carousel and a moon bounce, or post-game fireworks on Friday or Saturday nights throughout the summer. The ballpark also hosts adult-oriented events like a Flying Dog Beer Dinner.
This Class A team for the Washington Nationals play their home games in the Southern Pacific League at the Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland. The Municipal Stadium dates back to 1930 when the legendary Babe Ruth was the king of baseball. However, renovations in 2010 and 2011 included the installation of a state-of-the-art video board as well as upgrades to the playing surface, restaurants, shops, and seating.
Between innings, fans can participate in games like three-legged races, and kids' games include a guessing game with the price of ice cream in a “Price Is Right”-style game for prizes. The stadium also occasionally hosts special events.
Over the years, seven major league teams have operated the franchise now called the Potomac Nationals, and the team has undergone many name changes in the process. Currently, the Potomac Nationals are a Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals and play in the Carolina League of the MiLB.
Home games for the Potomac Nationals typically start in early April and run through the entire summer, taking place at the Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium, a centerpiece of the Prince William County sports complex.
You'll also find a Kids' Zone in the stadium, which includes all the minor league park staples like a moon bounce, an inflatable slide, and pitching and hitting areas. Additionally, the team's mascot, Uncle Slam, wanders around the stadium to entertain the crowd during the games.
The Blue Crabs are owned by former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson, but the team is not officially affiliated with the MLB in any way. This means that, technically, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs aren’t a minor league team as they belong to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, but the experience of attending one of their games is basically the same.
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play their home games at the Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Maryland, which offers activities including bumper boats and Pinch's Playground, a place just for kids with inflatables and a rock wall.
The Regency Furniture Stadium also hosts special events throughout the season. Past events include family-friendly parties like a special "Star Wars" night, a "Minions" day, a summer camp for kids, and "Wined Up Wednesdays" for adults.