From the chance to catch a fly ball to the thrill of watching home runs and cheering for your team, there’s a lot to love about America’s pastime. Just in time for players suiting up for Opening Day on Monday, here are our five reasons we can’t wait for baseball this season.
1. New ballpark in Birmingham. Call us biased, but we’re thrilled that our home team, the Birmingham Barons, is getting a new state-of-the-art park (above). Located downtown near Good People Brewing Co. and Railroad Park, Regions Field has a beer garden and a Dreamland Bar-B-Que stand. We’ll be there for their Opening Day on April 10.
2. Delicious food. Long gone are the days of peanuts and crackerjacks. Today ballpark concessions run the gourmet gamut from classic chile dogs (Ben’s Chili Bowl at Nationals Park) to craft beer (Natty Greene at Greensboro Grasshoppers games). This season, we were thrilled to hear that Turner Field in Atlanta will soon be home to the legendary Holeman & Finch burgers. And in Charleston, fans at RiverDogs games can chow down on Peanut Butter & Pepper Jelly Jalapeño Bacon Burgers and tacos made with veggies and herbs from a community garden.
3. Jackie Robinson Day. The baseball legend is honored every year on April 15 with ceremonies and players wearing #42 jerseys. This year is even more special with the release of the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, out April 12. Filmed in Southern cities such as Macon and Chattanooga and at Birmingham’s historic Rickwood Field, the movie features Anderson, South Carolina, native Chadwick Boseman as the baseball trailblazer. Check out our Paper Napkin Interview with Chadwick in our May issue and watch the trailer for 42 below.
4. Teams worth watching. Last year, five Southern teams made the playoffs including the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves had nail-biting losses in the postseason, but both have strong starting lineups this year. Finally, the Baltimore Orioles had 90-plus wins last season and it’s been exactly 30 years since they won the World Series. Perhaps this could be their year.
5. Giveaways, theme nights, and special events. There’s plenty of fun happening off the field this season. First, teams will giveaway millions of bobbleheads, bats, towels, and more, according to the MLB. There are tons of theme nights worth dressing up for including Elvis Night and Margaritaville Night. Even when the teams aren’t playing, the parks will host fun events: Memphis Brewfest on April 27 features Abita and Yazoo beer while on May 18, Nationals Park is home to the fifth year of Opera in the Outfield, a free live broadcasting of Show Boat.
Tell us: who are you rooting for this season?