D.C. and Maryland have two professional baseball teams. Unfortunately, neither the Baltimore Orioles nor the Washington Nationals are very good (wait till next year!). In lieu of shelling out top dollar for a losing product, why not treat the family to some good-old-fashioned minor league baseball, in towns that are as quaint and small as the teams’ payrolls.
The Bowie Baysox, a Class-AA affiliate of the Orioles and only a 30-minute drive east of D.C. off U.S. 50, often have fun specialty nights like “Mustache Mania Monday” (don a ‘stache at the game and get reduced-priced seating) and sell tickets at the fraction of the cost that major league stadiums do ($14 is the most expensive seat). Bowie also has its own kids’ club and, maybe best, has a winning team (54-44 at press time).
Need a place to stay? Within a mile of Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium (4101 NE Crain Hwy., Bowie, MD) you’ll find a Comfort Inn (4500 Crain Hwy.) and a TownePlace Suites by Marriott (3700 Town Center Blvd.). Other area fun: Take the family to the Belair Stable Museum (2835 Belair Drive), part of the famous “Belair Stud,” one of the premier racing stables in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
If you’re a National League guy or gal, the Nationals’ A-affiliate, Potomac Nationals, play its home games at Pfitzner Stadium (7 County Complex Ct., Woodbridge, VA), about 35 minutes from D.C. The 2008 Carolina League champions are a huge draw and could probably show their parent team a thing or two. Fans love coming to the ballpark for its intimacy (only 6,000 seats) and basement-level pricing ($13 for a field box seat; grandstand seats are $8). Parents can even plan their kid’s birthday party at the ballpark, which comes with food vouchers and team gifts.
Lodging-wise, there are a bevy of options in the Woodbridge area that are close to the stadium: Sleep Inn Woodbridge (14080 Shoppers Best Way), Fairfield Inn by Marriott (2610 Prince Williams Parkway), Holiday Inn Express (14030 Telegraph Rd.).
What to do in the area before or after the game: Get your shop on! Potomac Mills Mall (2700 Potomac Mills Circle) has a variety of outlet stores, including Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, and Coach.
The Frederick Keys, the Orioles’ A-affiliate, play at Harry Grove Stadium (21 Stadium Dr., Frederick, MD), about an hour northwest of D.C. One of the great minor league ballparks for sure, local fans come out in droves to support their local team. Tickets are cheap ($11 for field seating; youth 3 to 12 get general admission tickets for $5), concessions are cheaper, and players are accessible to fans (think anti-A-Rod!).
If you need a place to stay, try the Hollerstown Bed & Breakfast (4 Clarke Place, 301-228-3630) with its Victorian-era architecture. Other sure bets are the Comfort Inn Frederick (7300 Executive Way) and the Hampton Inn Frederick (5311 Buckeystown Pike).