A to Z: 'It's Fun to Be a Fan' in 2018

From food to mascots and more, get ready for the MiLB season

By Minor League Baseball | April 3, 2018 1:04 PM

Minor League Baseball stands for FUN and providing millions of fans memory-making experiences across the country. From Augusta's new ballpark to canine baseball bat retrievers, unique food promotions, mascot races and catching the game's Stars of Tomorrow Today®, we have provided the ultimate "It's Fun to Be a Fan®" Guide to prepare for the 2018 season. So, get ready to grab some tickets and swag and invite family and friends to enjoy all the sights, sounds and FUN of Minor League Baseball.

A - Augusta
April 12 marks Opening Day in North Augusta, South Carolina, not only for the 2018 season, but also its new $40 million ballpark. SRP Park leads a wave of new ballpark constructions across the country. Amarillo, Texas, Fayetteville, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada will welcome their fans to new homes in the next few years. In the last 25 years, more than $3 billion dollars has been invested in new ballpark construction, allowing MiLB to stay ahead of the curve in providing the best possible fan experience. Check out Augusta's new park.

Credit: Augusta GreenJackets

B - Ben's Biz Blog
Nine years ago, one man dared to explore every corner of the wacky, crazy, fun-filled MiLB world. By season's end, writer/blogger Ben Hill will have attended a game in all 159 MiLB parks. From Charleston to Sacramento, from Brooklyn to El Paso; he's seen it all. Follow his journey by checking out his blog

C - Copa de la Diversión
"Copa de la Diversión," or "Fun Cup," is a season-long event series specifically designed to embrace the culture and values that resonate most with participating teams' local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities. Spanning 165 Copa-designated games throughout the 2018 season, 33 teams across 19 states are participating in the battle for the Cup. With fun, community-specific monikers like the Flying Chanclas, Mariachis, Chupacabras, Chivos and Monarcas on the field; and culturally-relevant music, concessions and promotions around the ballpark, this series is sure to be a "can't miss." Check out the full schedule and see the new caps on the Copa website.

D - Dog Days of Summer
Who says your four-legged friend can't come to the game? Bark in the Park is one of MiLB's signature promotions with dozens of teams participating across the country. It's not all play though. There are hardworking dogs patrolling the field for bats and balls, too. Although we lost a good one in Derby, his son Rookie is ready to take over. 

E - Every Day is Game Day
Starting April 5 and concluding in September, MiLB will play host to more than 10,000 games during the 2018 season. Be sure to find your FUN this year by supporting your favorite team and seeing them in person.

F - Fourth of July Fireworks
Apple pie, fireworks, Fourth of July and baseball. Last year more than one million MiLB fans attended games during the holiday weekend, with all MiLB teams hosting a game on either July 3 or 4. Make sure you grab your tickets early, because we're going even bigger this year. Check out the recap from our amazing July 4 last season.

Credit: Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com

G - Giving Back
Minor League Baseball Charities and all 160 teams play significant roles in each of their local communities. In 2017, MiLB and its clubs donated $39.8 million donated nationwide to numerous charitable funds covering youth baseball, academic scholarships, diversity initiatives, cancer research and disaster relief, among other important causes. For more information on MiLB Charities, check out the 2017 MiLB Charities Annual Report, head to their page and help contribute by bidding on one-of-a-kind memorabilia at the MiLB Auctions site.

H - Home Run Recipes
There is no shortage of food options at MiLB ballparks. From The Squealer in New Hampshire, to West Michigan Whitecaps' Mt. Wing-suvius, the options are never ending. Last year, MiLB and national partner BUSH'S® Beans looked for the best recipe in the minor leagues, with the Erie Seawolves' Mojo & AC Rocket Dog taking the win. Should be noted, the Rocket Dog goes perfect with Uncle Ray's chips. See all the entries and get ready to take a bite.

I - Inclusion
The Kannapolis Intimidators have created the first fully dedicated sensory friendly space in professional baseball in an effort to better accommodate and assist special needs children, allowing them to enjoy the ballpark experience. The space will overlook right field and will be free from the crowds and noise of Intimidators Stadium. The only other professional sports teams with such a space are the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) and the New York Red Bulls (MLS).

J - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Out of 80 nominees from all corners of the sport and entertainment industry, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were named one of five finalists for SportsBusiness Daily's 2018 SportsBusiness Awards "Sports Breakthrough of the Year." The team is looking to add to their list of recent awards that include 2017 Southern League Organization of the Year, Southern League Promotional Trophy, June and August MiLB Promotion of the Month Awards and GM Harold Craw's 2017 Southern League Executive of the Year honor. Find out why the Jumbo Shrimp are truly a big deal.

K - K Leaders
Pitchers are throwing some heat and there are lots of storylines coming out of the pitching world in 2018. Can Charlotte's 105 mph man Michael Kopech reach the Major LeaguesTM this year? What about the process of two-way player Hunter Greene focusing purely on pitching with his 101 mph fastball? It should be fun to watch them this season and track the Ks. Check out all the top pitching prospects.

L - Loveable Mascots
Crazy hair, googly eyes and distinctive personalities, MiLB mascots are the best in the business. Phinley the shark circles the concourse in Clearwater, Florida, Muddy the Mud Hen is always ready to dance in Toledo, Ohio and Modesto, California's Wally the Walnut is looking to crack you up. Make sure to get a high five and take a selfie when you see your Mascotin a ballpark near you!

M - MiLB FIELD Program
Minor League Baseball's 'Fostering Inclusion through Education and Leadership Development' (FIELD) Program was created under the MiLB Diversity Initiative to engage the next generation of diverse leaders in sports business. The five-day program combines educational and leadership development with skill-specific training, access to a vast network of sports professionals and industry knowledge. Past participants can be found working across the country in MiLB and MLB ballparks and other sports venues. Find out more about the MiLB FIELD Program.

N - National Championship
Last year, the Durham Bulls defeated the Memphis Redbirds to claim the 2017 Triple- A® National Championship game hosted by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. This year, the championship game moves to Columbus, Ohio where the Clippers hope to regain the magic they had in 2015 to win it on their home turf. Check out the Triple-A National Championship schedule of events.

Credit: Durham Bulls

O - Opening Day
The weather is warming up and the fresh grass is cut which means it's baseball season! Starting April 5, 160 MiLB teams embark on the journey to be crowned one of the 14 League Champions. Grab tickets, put on some new team swag and call your friends and family because Opening Day is here! Check out when and where your team will be on Opening Day.

P - Perfect Game
Last year, there were three perfect games from Tyler Mahle (Pensacola), Domenic Mazza (Augusta) and Connor Grey (Kane County). Don't miss the chance to see history in the making! See what other milestones were hit last year and stay up-to-date throughout the season.

Q - Quality Entertainment
For the third straight year, SportsBusiness Journal/Daily readers named Minor League Baseball the "Most Family-Friendly Game and Event Experience." With fun mascots, amazing food, unique promotions, all at an industry-leading value, it's no wonder MiLB games are the place to be. See why tonight should be a baseball night!

Credit: Nashville Sounds

R - Record Crowds
More than 41.8 million fans passed through MiLB gates in 2017, making it the fifth-highest total in League history. In addition, 14 MiLB teams set single-season franchise attendance records, while 22 set largest single-game attendance marks. Don't worry, the Dayton Dragons continued their consecutive sellout streak to 1,246 games, the longest in professional sports history. Don't miss out on being part of the action.

S - Safe Kids with The BairFind Foundation
With 76 percent of all Americans living within an MiLB market, The BairFind Foundation has found overwhelming success in its efforts to locate missing children. In 2017, The BairFind Foundation found 415 missing children in the community through select signage across more than 150 MiLB ballparks. More eyes looking means more kids found furthering the close relationship that our teams have with their communities. Find more information about the BairFind Foundation.

 

Credit: Edwine Pierre Louis

T - Technology
MiLB is continually seeking new technology to enhance the fan experience. With new national partners FIS and Tickets.com providing their industry-leading technology, the MiLB fan experience has become easier to navigate than ever before. We're creating the Ballparks of the Future and changing the MiLB ticketing world and look forward to showcasing that in 2018. VIDEO: Jax Jumbo Shrimp FIS

U - Unique Promotions
Last year, the Daytona Tortugas took home the Golden Bobblehead Award for Best Theme Night and Best Overall Promotion at the 2017 MiLB Promotional Seminar for their Bob Ross Night. The Rochester Red Wings became the Plates and dominated the promo jersey world. Ushers in Tulsa raced to win the golden walker. Every year team's promotions games get bigger and better. What will teams come up with next? Keep up with team's promotional efforts by following MiLB Promotional Seminar Twitter.

V - Victory
The 2017 season saw 17 league champions, three more than usual with postseason shortened by Hurricane Irma. From Triple-A through Rookie: Durham Bulls, Memphis Redbirds, Altoona Curve, Chattanooga Lookouts, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Midland RockHounds, Modesto Nuts, Down East Wood Ducks, Lynchburg Hillcats, Dunedin Blue Jays, Palm Beach Cardinals, Quad Cities River Bandits, Greenville Drive, Hudson Valley Renegades, Vancouver Canadians, Ogden Raptors and Elizabethton Twins. Who takes the crown this year? Follow the live standings.

W - Winter Meetings
In 2018, we head west to the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas, for the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings. Approximately 3,000 Baseball executives from over 200 professional teams, media from around the world and hundreds of exhibitors and job seekers will converge at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. PHOTO: Winter - Mandalay Bay

X - X-tra Bases
We've got some sluggers ready to take on the 2018 season. Ronald Acuna is on the cusp of The Show® in Gwinnett, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is going to be hitting long balls in New Hampshire. Eloy Jimenez, Nick Senzel, Kyle Tucker and Francisco Mejia are all ready to put on a show this season. Check out all the top prospects leading up to Opening Day.

Y - Youth Baseball
MiLB continues to serve as a steward for the game of baseball to increase participation and fandom throughout the youth market. This year, MiLB and Baseball Youth, the nation's largest youth baseball network, have partnered to amplify youth development initiatives and kids' clubs across the country. See how the partnership is growing.

Z - Zero Reasons Not to Attend a Game
You've got Thirsty Thursdays in Asheville, North Carolina. The Fresno Tacos are taking the field with food trucks waiting. The ferris wheel in left field is lit up in Davenport, Iowa. The mascots are warmed up, the players are ready and the organist is striking up "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Every day is a good day for some baseball. Find your fun today!

Credit: Jared Ravich/MiLB.com

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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