Our family loves baseball.
The boys eat, sleep, and dream about the game. Our youngest still plays Little League, our daughter plays softball, and our oldest is a Little League Umpire. At some point about a year ago, the television channel in our living room permanently switched from Nickelodeon over to the MLB Network. The yard's been set up as a Wiffle Ball stadium for ages, complete with sand-filled batters boxes, and even the dog drinks out of a Detroit Tigers water dish.
Our family loves baseball.
There's no doubt that the Tigers have spoiled my kids. With two trips to the World Series in their relatively short lifetimes, it hasn't been hard to grow up as big baseball fans living in this town.
So, to make the winter seem shorter, we travelled to Lakeland Florida for a Spring Training game last week... a first for all of us! We were in Naples visiting my parents anyway, so the day trip to Joker Marchant Stadium was easily doable and extremely worth it.
With early-entry Batting Practice tickets in hand, we entered the tiny ballpark at around 10:00 AM and instantly headed out to the grassy Berm in Left Field. Over the next 6 1/2 hours, we enjoyed a perfectly breezy and sunny 87 degree day of baseball, food, and family fun.
First, the baseball:
The Tigers played their entire starting lineup for the first few innings. We got a chance to see Torii Hunter wearing his new 'Olde English D', and we saw Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both hit MONSTER home runs. The Toronto Blue Jays ended up winning 10-3 but with the non-stress feeling of spring it just didn't seem to matter.
Then, the food:
We ate regular nachos and shredded pork nachos, popcorn, chicken strips, fries and peanuts.
But no hot dogs!
Lastly, the family fun:
Justin Verlander waved at us, the boys each got autographs from Quintin Berry, Gene Lamont gave my daughter a baseball, and I caught a batting practice home run ball.
Life just doesn't get any better than that!
We had great seats down the third base line, but ended up moving back out to the Berm to lounge in the grass for the last 4 or 5 innings. I never felt as relaxed on our entire vacation as I did that afternoon in the sun.
If you've never been to Spring Training, I highly recommend it.
Opening Day will be here soon...right?
Kurt Schwarz is a happily married man with three awesome children, living and working in Oakland County, MI. His mid-life crisis brought weight-loss, sobriety, and the constant pursuit of happiness by pretending to be a rock star. Now in his late forties, he has decided to become a better person by improving every aspect of his life.
He blogs about Family, Fatherhood, and Fantastic Music Topics.
He strongly believes that real men can be great husbands and fathers yet retain their "coolness," although his kids may not always agree.