Monday, May 25, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 217: Attend a Mobile Bay Bears baseball game

The Mobile Bay Bears minor league baseball team has been around since 1997, and almost that entire time I’ve lived just a short drive from their home at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Despite the fact that I’ve actually been to the stadium several times for different events, I’d never seen the Bay Bears play an actual baseball game, which is why I added this item to my “bucket list” several years ago.

This past Saturday night, I finally got the chance to scratch this item off my bucket list when my wife and I accompanied my son and his youth baseball team to a Bay Bears game. I think I actually had more fun than both of them combined. The Bay Bears lost to the Chattanooga Lookouts, 11-3, but it was still a lot of fun just to go to the game.

Official attendance on Saturday night was 1,810, so there were plenty of places to park and sit. Hank Aaron Stadium will seat 6,000, so it was almost a third of the way full. Despite what may sound like a small crowd, the fans in the stands appeared to be really into the game and most of them stuck around to see the end result.

After parking, a few pleasant surprises followed. First, one of my old National Guard buddies, Will English, was the ticket taker at the turnstile that our group of 15 passed through. After speaking face-to-face to him for the first time in over 10 years, I told him that I had no idea that he worked at the stadium, and he told me that he took a job there after retiring the Guard. From what I could tell, it looked like a pretty sweet job, and Will is a perfect ambassador for the Bay Bears.

A few feet inside the stadium, we received another surprise when my wife and I were given two free Bay Bears T-shirts. Apparently, the first few hundred people through the gates got a free shirt. I’ve got mine on right now as I type this. It’s that nice.

The game got going a few minutes after 7 p.m. and, according to the official box score, the game lasted exactly three hours. There was lots of action, but errors seemed to kill the Bay Bears, so they trailed almost all night. In all, both teams amassed 25 total hits, and even though they hit a number of deep balls, no one hit a home run.

We also had great seats. We sat just to the right of home plate, could see all of the action and could hear all of the home plate umpires calls. We were also in a good spot for foul balls. Late in the game, around the ninth inning, one of the other dad’s in our group actually snagged a foul ball that ricocheted off the lower portion of the press box behind us.

All in all, I had a great time, and my wife and son enjoyed themselves too. I’ve been to a lot of baseball games, at all levels of play, but this game was one of the best I’ve ever been to in person. I can assure you that I plan to return to see the Bay Bears play again sometime soon (and I will be sporting my free T-shirt).

In the end, how many of you out there have been to a Bay Bears game? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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