Baseball is referred to as the great American past time, because it was the most widely played sport in the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its popularity has stood the test of time, and for good reasons: it’s an exhilarating sport, the games are affordable to attend, and there’s always so much more to do at the stadium than just watch the game itself! Thankfully, baseball in Ohio is incredibly easy to come by, as we have several fantastic venues to catch a game. Whether it’s major league or minor league, the Buckeye State is busting at the seams with baseball.
Formerly known as the Akron Aeros, the Akron RubberDucks changed its name in 2013 to liven up the minor league franchise and pay homage to the city’s famous tire and rubber industry. With the name change came lots of other changes to the team and to Canal Park, where the RubberDucks hold their games.
Everywhere you look in Canal Park, there’s something to keep both kids and adults happy. There are bubble machines (to simulate a “bathtub” for the RubberDucks), inflatable slides and THREE mascots: Webster (the duck), Orbit (the cat) and Homer (the pigeon). In addition, some nights have fireworks, live music or buffet style dinners.
To fill your belly during the game, you can pig out with some new extreme food items they offer: The Pineapple TeriyAKRON Bowl (a mixture of white rice, grilled chicken, diced pineapple and Thai chili garlic inside a hollowed out pineapple), Not Your Routine Poutine (french fries loaded with cheese curds, gravy, pulled pork, bacon and green onions) and Three Dog Night (a bratwurst stuffed with a hot dog wrapped in a kielbasa and topped with sauerkraut).
Located along the banks of the Ohio River, the Great American Ballpark is home to the popular major league team, the Cincinnati Reds, which began as the very first professional baseball team in the country in 1869. The stadium has several uniquely themed sections of the ballpark, giving attendees plenty of things to see and do while simply walking around.
For instance, the outfield houses the brand new Riverboat Deck, a section built to resemble the riverboats famous in Cincinnati’s history. The deck can be reserved for groups of 25 or more, and gives you a covered private bar and dining area, a ballpark buffet, and spectacular views of both the game and the Ohio River!
For beer enthusiasts, the Great American Ballpark has a great “brewery district” of its own, with plenty of local craft beers on tap, including the baseball-themed “Rounding Third” by MadTree Brewing, and “Hustle” by Rhinegheist.
One great feature for all members of the family is the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, attached to the front of the stadium. Give yourself some extra time before a game starts so you can check out the plaques of Hall of Fame inductees and other Reds memorabilia.
In the hub of downtown Cleveland is Progressive Field (or as myself and many true Clevelanders call it, Jacob’s Field). It is the home of the Cleveland Indians, my personal favorite baseball team. I am such an Indians fan that I even named my dog after Slider, the giant pink fuzzy team mascot that is always down for a fun photo-op!
Progressive Field definitely caters to the foodie crowd, with a dozen restaurants, all serving a variety of local Cleveland foods! No matter what you are craving, there is something for you at an Indians game – everything from build-your-own tacos at Barrio, to mammoth sized loaded grilled cheese sandwiches at Melt, and weird and wacky hot dogs at Happy Dog. On my most recent visit, I had to order the “Slider Dog’ from Happy Dog – a frank smothered in pulled pork, mac and cheese, bacon and – wait for it – Froot Loops. This colorful creation sounded odd but was actually really satisfying!
A great thing about seeing an Indians game is that Progressive Field is situated right next to a string of fun bars, concert venues and restaurants. The atmosphere in the downtown area of Cleveland is electrifying, especially on game day!
Living in walking distance of Huntington Park for three years was a real treat for me and my roommates. We would often spend afternoons at a Columbus Clippers game. For a minor league team, the Clippers have quite a following. The centrally located stadium helps draw a large crowd every night, being located in the middle of Columbus’s Arena District. Bars, parks, restaurants and concert venues are all just a stone’s throw away.
The Clippers have been playing at this location for only 10 years, so the stadium is still state-of-the-art and modern compared to others. It features a giant 110 foot bar in the Left Field Building, and fantastic views of the Columbus skyline.
The minor league baseball team in Dayton wins the award for the coolest mascot – the dragon (and the equally cool dragon mascots, Heater and Gem)! It also scores some major points for having some of the best promotional events in its Day Air Ballpark, including the Dragons 5K (July 18), a race that finishes across from the stadium plaza, and special entertainment nights throughout the season!
During the actual ball games, you might want to consider getting tickets for the Dragon’s Lair, a new and improved hospitality suite, with a buffet, souvenirs and other fantastic amenities.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Found in Niles (Trumbull County, near Youngstown) is the minor league team the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The Scrappers were established in 1999, when I was in high school in nearby Hubbard. They play at Eastwood Field, which is located adjacent to the Eastwood Mall Complex – a popular shopping mall that can be enjoyed prior to or directly after a game!
Attending a Scrappers game offers a fun and casual environment with comfortable seating and lots of fun promotions throughout the season. Depending on when you go, you could receive giveaways (like bobbleheads, posters or food), or get to watch some great entertainment!
Toledo Mud Hens
The Mud Hens are a minor league triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. They are a beloved Toledo team, and people of all ages can enjoy spending an evening at a game. The stadium has become a part of the downtown scene since being built in 2002.
You can whet your whistle and fill up on food with at the various dining options. Go to Fleetwood’s Tap Room to try one of the 75 regional beers or gorge on steak quesadillas at El Burrito Misterio.