Baseball Like it Oughta Be

Last week, I was in Madison, Wisconsin for some college-related stuff (GO BADGERS!!!!!), and I got to go see some great not-even-minor league baseball. The Madison Mallards play in the Northwoods League – a collection of small baseball teams in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Ontario. Northwoods league athletes are all college students playing on their summer vacations, meaning they don’t get paid and are there to get experience in the game. At the “Duck Pond,” the Mallards’ 7500-seat stadium, their team slogan is everywhere: “Baseball Like it Oughta Be.” And you know what? It is.

There’s nothing like some great minor-league action to remind a jaded baseball fan how great the sport is. I’ve been a huge Oakland A’s fan for years, but in the past few seasons they’ve closed the cheap-seat haven that was their upper-reserve section, raised ticket prices, and even announced that the team is moving. Needless to say, I’m a bit frustrated with the A’s.

But going to a Mallards game has shown me that great baseball is still there. The best seats in the park can be had for under $10, the PA announcer ads real flare to the game, and the park delivers the kind of hokey promotional stunts that make minor league baseball famous (like “B-List Fridays,” where stars like Potsie from Happy Days, or Gary Coleman entertain the crowd). Take a trip to a souvenir stand, and you’ll find the standard gear (hats, t-shirts, jerseys) but also game-used bats for just $10 – it ain’t the majors. (I bought one of those at my first Mallards game in 2005, and still have it – definitely the best baseball souvenir I’ve ever bought). Once the game is over, players walk back to their locker room through the crowd, stopping for autographs and pictures along the way, whereas MLB players would be shuttled off on a far-from-view ramp to their private Whirlpools.

Mallards baseball has shown me that there’s still room for people like me in the sport – true fans who just love to watch baseball. If you’re ever in Madison during the summer, I suggest you take a trip to the Duck Pond – you won’t regret it.

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One Response

  1. Great post. Just found your post and wanted to let you know that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. I’ll subscribe to check if you write any updates.

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