Take me out to a Tennessee ball game
The sound of cleats digging into the dirt as a player slides safely into second base; the spinning of a pitcher’s screw ball as it lands in the catcher’s padded mitt; the umpire calling strikes while peanuts, hot dogs and soft drinks are sold among the bleachers. The sights, sounds and smells of America’s favorite pastime can be experienced in each region of Tennessee. Hear the high-pitched sound of the ball connecting to the bat and maybe even catch a fly ball, a baseball game’s greatest souvenir. It’s game time in Tennessee.
If you’re in Chattanooga, spend a night watching the Chattanooga Lookouts, named after Lookout Mountain, play at the AT&T Field. The team is a minor league baseball team who plays in the Southern League and has been a Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2009. The stadium seats 6,160 fans and boasts luxury suites that can be rented for the season or individual games. A 14-seat skybox is $300 a night if you want to splurge. The stadium hosts birthday parties and group outings. What’s special about the AT&T Field is that whenever a Lookouts batter hits a home run, its version of the Chattanooga Choo Choo chugs its way down a train track from behind the right-center field wall. Catch a game with the Chattanooga Lookouts, currently third in the Southern League North. Individual tickets are $5 for general admission, $6 for upper box seating and $9 for lower box seating.
Watch a baseball game under the lights with the Smoky Mountains as your backdrop. Inspired by the Wrigley Field, the Smokies Park in Kodak houses the Tennessee Smokies, a Minor League Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Able to hold 6,000 people and more with a lot of standing room, the Smokies Park allows fans to roam the ballpark because of a wide and uninterrupted concourse that circles around the field and covered between the dugouts. There are picnic tables and a restaurant on the premises, plus near left field is a wooden party deck able to hold 60 people. The rental fee includes all-you-can-eat ballpark fare. The team’s season is underway and the current top batter is Jair Fernandez with a .333 batting average (the best batting average in a season was .485 by Tip O’Neill of the St. Louis Browns in 1887); Alberto Cabrera is the leading pitcher with 14 strikeouts. Season tickets are still available and individual tickets are $7.50 for bleacher seats and $9.50 for field level seats.
Family fun in Music City can be easily found with a baseball game at Herschel Greer Stadium. Cheer on the Nashville Sounds, a Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, as they take the field and usually dominate as they are second in the Pacific Coast League American Northern. And no wonder with Scooter Gennett’s batting average of .474 and Tyler Thornburg’s 12 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. The stadium is best known for the scoreboard shaped like a guitar. Any player’s home run that hits the scoreboard receives a guitar in a post-game ceremony at home plate. The mascot, Ozzie the cat, is probably the cutest asset to attending a game. He’s at every Sounds home game and makes a big impact on audience enthusiasm and participation. Every Saturday game ends with a spectacular fireworks show. Season tickets are available and individual tickets to a game are $12 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission.
The Memphis Redbirds, a Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, get down to baseball business at the AutoZone Park, voted the No. 1 Minor League Ballpark by Baseball America. Currently third in the Pacific Coast League American Northern, Chad Huffman is leading with a .444 batting average for the season. The stadium has the same feel as Fenway Park or Wrigley Field as it is a state-of-the-art facility with a press box and HD video board, two open-air decks that can seat 175 people and three party balconies. There’s also a fireworks show after every Saturday night game. You’ll think you’re at a major league game as the AutoZone Park also has major league lighting for when the sun goes down. You can even do a tour of the baseball park for $5 during the day. A behind-the-scenes look at the park awaits you as you’ll tour the press box, training facilities, clubhouse and scoreboard control room. Season tickets are available and individual tickets start at $6.
Currently fourth in the Southern League North are the Jackson Generals from Jackson. The team is a Double-A Southern League Affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. They play at Pringles Park, a 6,000 seat Minor League Baseball stadium that was awarded the 2010-2011 Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Championship and named after the Pringles brand which is manufactured in Jackson. If you want to catch a high school or college game, teams play on the field until the Jackson Generals season begins. Besides holding family-friendly baseball games, you can also sign up for the baseball camp held every year. You can play on the same field as the Jackson Generals and get lessons from the professionals on how to play like a Major Leaguer. You can score big during Dollar Thursdays where you get general admission tickets, hot dogs, small popcorn and beverages for $1 each. Join in on all the fun that happens at Pringles Park with season passes or individual tickets which are $10 for reserved seating and $6 for general admission.
Which Tennessee team will you root for this baseball season? Let me know in the comments below!