Ballpark Bargains

Here's how to save money while enjoying a day at the ballpark.

baseball fans at Sacramento River Cats game

Fans go wild at a Sacramento River Cats game.

When you think of a day at the ballpark, what comes to mind? Bored kids? Five-dollar hot dogs? Crowds? A few easy moves can help you rediscover the fun of America's pastime.

Get good—not the most expensive—seats. From an upper deck you can easily see how the moving parts of the game fit together, and at San Francisco's SBC Park, you get a bay view for far less than you would pay to sit close to first or third base. Besides, it's easier to catch a foul ball that's lofted up to you than one that comes screaming right at you.

Remember Bull Durham. Minor-league baseball teams are fan friendly. Players like to sign autographs. Ticket prices are low; the most expensive seat at a Sacramento River Cats game costs $18. And you never know what wacky promotion the team will be putting on: This summer the Class-A California League's Modesto Nuts, for example, will hold a Jimmy Buffett Night.

Go back to school. College baseball features talented athletes playing for the fun of it. Stanford University's Sunken Diamond ballpark in Palo Alto, Calif., is a top spot for college baseball. Tickets: (800) 782-6367.

BYOPACJ. That's Bring Your Own Peanuts and Cracker Jack, a good way to keep your game-day budget under control.

Arrive early. Roam the bleachers to catch a batting practice home run or go to the front row to snag autographs. Often, ushers won't send you to your seats until just before the game.

Hit the road. To plan a baseball road trip, check out Baseball Vacations by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.

Photography courtesy Sacramento River Cats baseball

This article was first published in May 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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