If baseball beckons you every summer, like popsicles and pools, Connecticut can be a tricky place to live. Is it Red Sox country? A Yankee stronghold? Mets loyal? Probably all of the above, but Mommy Poppins has no intentions of wading into THAT debate. Rather, we'll educate you on the alternatives right in your backyard -- minor league ballparks with major league fun. They're perfect for the family, kind to your wallet, and spread out across the state. Batter up!!
Minor league teams are organized by class -- AAA being the best players, ready for a call from the majors at any moment; single A being the freshest kids on the block. You can find play at all three levels in Connecticut. They're organized below from AAA on down:
The Bridgeport Bluefish belong to the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not associated with Major League Baseball, but began in 1998 to service baseball fans without an MLB or MiLB team in town. The level of play is on par with Class AA-AAA . Games at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard are a fun affair. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, and Sundays are also special, when there's an autograph session pre-game and base-running post-game (priority goes to members of the Snapper's Club). If the kids need to stretch long before the 7th inning, trot them down to the Kids Cove, past right field, where you'll find batting, bouncing, inflatable slides and other games for a small fee. You might even catch B.B. the Bluefish cruising around. Read our post about going to a Bluefish game.
The Ballpark at Harbor Yard 500 Main Street
New to the Connecticut baseball scene, the Hartford Yard Goats are a Double-A minor Eastern League team that launched in 2016. The Yard Goats replaced the New Britain Rock Cats, a Colorado Rockies affiliate, relocated and rebranded. The Yard Goats play at the brand new Dunkin' Donuts Park just north of downtown Hartford. Sign up for the Red Robin Kids Club, a completely free program for kids ages 12 and under for invitations to special kids events and promotions. Check the schedule for ongoing activities like post-game run the bases, visits from Paw Patrol pups and plenty of Yard Goat swag giveaways.
Dunkin' Donuts Park 1214 Main Street Hartford 06103
The Connecticut Tigers are a Minor League Baseball Class A short season team, and part of the Detroit Tigers organization. According to Minor League Baseball's website, 'short season' means "rosters populated by younger players and recent draft picks making their professional debuts." In other words, boys of summer with nowhere to go but up! Since 2010, Connecticut fans have been treated to watching these dreamers in the dugout at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT. (FYI, their website states that Google, Mapquest and GPS devices will often direct you to Plain Hill Rd., which is CLOSED on game days, so re-route accordingly).
Dodd Stadium 14 Stott Ave. Norwich 06360
The New Britain Bees succeed the New Britain Rock Cats who moved to Hartford (and became the Hartford Yard Goats) for the 2016 season. The New Britain Bees are part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and are not affiliated with MLB. Still, when taking your littles, the New Britain Bees offer a top-notch experience with peanuts, cracker jacks, and a kid's fun zone with bounce houses and a carousel! Arrive early and players sign autographs before the game. Stay late and your kiddos get the chance to run the bases.
New Britain Stadium 230 John Karbonic Way New Britain 06051
Photo courtesy The Bridgeport Bluefish