It’s officially O’s season in Charm City. Lots of local families have established baseball traditions to feel the Orioles magic. And whether you are diehard fans or just think the bird is pretty cute (and he is), here’s the lowdown on creating some Orioles magic for your family this baseball season in the major and minor leagues.
Here are our (cool) tips for experiencing the best of Baltimore baseball — with kids in tow!
This year’s season opener was a success, albeit a bit rainy. And kids are welcomed to come do it again on Kids’ Opening Day on Sunday April 10. You’ll want to skip some of the classic grown-up opening day traditions (Pickles Pub), which leaves you plenty of time to arrive early—the first 7,500 fans under 14 receive a sweet O’s tee and a prime spot on the popular face-painting line. Dress the kids in their finest orange garb and show your extreme team spirit for the chance to win autographed prizes and unique game day experiences. With options including delivering the starting lineup from home plate, throwing out the first pitch, or standing on the field for the national anthem, these memory-makers are bigger than the Jumbotron. And if you last to the end of the game, all kids 14 and under can take a turn to run the bases.
Fun for the pint-sized crowd doesn’t end at kids’ opening day. For just $25, the Junior O’s Dugout Club offers 2 separate 6-game packages with discounted tickets for specific games and lots of O’s swag (sunglasses, hat, magazine subscription, and more) tucked in an Oriole’s messenger bag. Game day perks include discounted food, bounce houses, face painting, and more. An added benefit of the Dugout Club is that you can purchase tickets for other family members or friends to join for as little as $6 a ticket.
This year, the popular Kids Run the Bases program has been extended to include every Sunday home game in the schedule (that’s 13 games). All fans 14 and under can line up toward the end of the game for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Orioles greats like Cal Ripken with a spin around the baseball diamond.
(cool) tips: First time visitor? Stop by any of the 3 Fan Assistance centers for a certificate commemorating the event. It’s perfect for the baby book, or, um, drawer filled with those mementos that will find their way into a book someday. And for those bringing along younger siblings, there’s stroller parking in the stadium, family restrooms, changing tables in most restrooms (for men and women), and Fan Assistance is happy to answer your questions (or even find a quiet spot for you to nurse your baby).
the minor league ballparks
The minor leagues can be a major win for families just a short drive from home. Fans can enjoy lower prices (on tickets, food, and other extras) and smaller crowds while still enjoying the big stadium feel. Add in games with unique family-friendly themes, and it’s a grand slam. Here’s a lineup of some of the coolest family events happening this season at local minor league parks.
It takes about 3 minutes to sign up online for the Bowie Baysox Louie’s Kids Club, which gains you access to discounted tickets, free food, and fun character events throughout the season. If you’re a Kids Club member, buy your $12 tickets for any Sunday game by the previous Thursday and kids eat free (hot dog, chips, and drink).
Paw Patrol, to the lookout…or the stadium on Sunday April 24 at 2:05 p.m. when the Baysox welcome beloved pups including Chase, Marshall, and Skye. Preschoolers can also meet Daniel Tiger (June 5) and Mickey Mouse and friends (July 24). Older fans can come in costume for Jedi light saber battles at Star Wars night (June 25) or some pre-game Quidditch on Harry Pottery night on July 23. And everyone should bring their A-game to Louie’s Big Birthday Bash on May 29 when candy rains down from the sky from a helicopter and free birthday cake is served (thankfully, not dropped from a helicopter). On August 7, it’s Minion madness complete with a minion-themed Manny Machado “Mannyion” Bobble Head giveaway. Yes, you read that right. Check the schedule for details on other events, including fireworks galore, Touch a Truck day, family campout in the ballpark, and even Jennifer appreciation night, where everyone with my namesake can get box seats for $8. Valid id is required for this one to prove your Jen, Jenn, Jenny, or Jennifer variation status. I would think that it might get confusing in the box seats with everyone having the same name, but if you grew up Jennifer in the 1980s or 1990s, you know to just tack on your last name initial and all should be ok.
The Junior Keys Kids Club is free for kids 12 and under. Register online and bring the printout to guest services for free tickets, hotdogs, and a complimentary game or ride in the Keys Fun Zone.
Families with allergies can enjoy a stress-free night at the ballpark at the Peanut Free game on June 27 when no peanut products will be sold throughout the ballpark. Other theme nights throughout the season include Cat in the Hat night (April 29), Star Wars Day (April 30), Superhero Night (May 21), 90s Nickelodeon night with Hey Arnold jerseys (June 17), Medieval Times night (July 21), Christmas in July (July 22), and Disney Daddy Daughter Date Night (July 24).
The Ironbirds Kids Club is also free and is available for kids up to 14 years old. Membership gets kids free tickets to 5 special Kids Club game days throughout the season. Added perk? Show your membership card and kids eat free Monday-Thursday at Conrad’s Crab and Seafood market during the season.
Unique themes throughout the season include Gameshow Night (June 25), Super Hero night (June 26), Christmas in July (July 28), Olympics Night (August 4), Hollywood night complete with fireworks (August 5), and Halloween in August (August 28).
(cool) tip: Plan to hit the road? Sign up for the Birdland Passport and collect 5 stamps when you visit Camden Yards as well as any of the 5 Minor League Affiliate ballparks, which include those listed above, as well as the Norfolk Tides and Delmarva Shorebirds.