The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball…It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.
~James Earl Jones as Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams
Even though Derek Jeter and the Bleacher Creatures of Yankee Stadium are just a subway ride away, my first baseball game this season was spent at the minors. Baseball came back to Brooklyn about a decade ago in the form of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones. They play in a small stadium right off the famed Coney Island boardwalk. That’s just one of the reasons I’m a convert to the magic of the Minor Leagues.
Why is the Minor League better than the Majors?
1. These seats cost $12.00.
These seats cost $75.
2. The Cyclones are Class A (short-season), meaning that these guys can’t even believe they’re getting paid to play ball. And they’re not getting paid much at that. The average salary per player is $850 per month. (In AAA Minor League they move up to $2,150 per month.) The team salary for the New York Yankees is $203 million.
The Cyclones players are signing autographs, shaking hands and kissing babies. And they actually seem to enjoy it. It’s a far cry from the bloated wallets and egos of the Major League players (is it just me?) who seem to exist in a ridiculous cloud of entitlement.
3. No line for the ladies’ room. None. At. All.
4. The Yankees have the 7th inning stretch. The Cyclones have the Race of the Condiments wherein mustard, relish and ketchup run the bases in a nail-biter of a race to home plate. (Tip: Don’t bet on mustard. He never wins. I think this race is fixed!)
The gimmicks at Minor League ballparks are legendary. According to columnist Keith Thomson for Weld Birmingham:
In 2002, in Charleston, S.C., RiverDogs owner Mike Veeck—who has inherited the funny-promotion DNA from his Hall of Fame major league team owner Bill Veeck—had a ”Nobody Night.” Fans were locked out of the stadium until the fifth inning so that the official attendance would be 0.
The same season, the Nashua Pride played “Who Wants to Be a Turkish Millionaire.” Fans played a version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” with the winner taking home a million Turkish lira, worth a about one US dollar at the time.
In 2010, the Lowell Spinners (Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) had a “50th Anniversary Salute to Bubble Wrap,” handing out squares of bubble wrap and having fans simultaneously pop them in the third inning.
In 2007, the Augusta Greenjackets hosted a Salute to Indoor Plumbing, closing the restrooms so that fans had to use porta-potties.
Clearly, though, this one is my favorite.
5. With about 250 Minor League teams across the U.S. and South America there is probably a game happening near you. Right now.
6. Bull Durham.
7. The teams have creative names:
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits (Really?)
Are you a baseball fan? Have you ever attended a Minor League baseball game?
Have a great weekend, everyone!