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Minor-League Options

In minor-league baseball, most of the players are going nowhere and nobody cares who wins. Here's what really matters with the local teams.

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Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium
Home of the Newark Bears

If you can't find a free Bears game, frankly you're just not trying. On July 21, you can gain admission by dressing like your favorite Simpsons character; on July 14, a.k.a. Italian-American Heritage Day, an Italian flag will get you in. (A spot in the sausage-eating contest on the field might take some begging, though.) If costumes and props feel too déclassé, score two-for-one tickets on July 20 by using the promo code "BOTOX" for Cosmetic Surgery Night. But whenever you go, you'll find the Bears encouraging recycling by trotting out a guy in a creepy Al Gore mask while Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" blares over the loudspeaker. Our favorite part of this gimmick is its origin: A staff member found the mask lying around then decided to reuse it here. How green!

Citibank Park
Home of the Long Island Ducks

You'd think this suburban stadium would have three strikes against it: It's a solid hour drive from the city, the giveaways (caps, T-shirts, water bottles) are pretty dull, and even on nights when there are fireworks, the undeveloped lot behind the stadium still looks pretty grim. So how to explain the huge crowds? Could it be the local beers on tap, the wine carts flanking the concourse, and the gated, smoking section for ticket-holders? (Nothing says good, clean family fun more than a little drinking and smoking!) More likely, it's that the roster is loaded with former major-leaguers like Danny Graves and Carl Everett, and autograph hounds who can't score a signature for free can try the team store, where a ball signed by popular ex-Met Edgardo Alfonso costs $75 and one from former Braves closer John Rocker goes for $100. (That pricing, like some of Rocker's views, seems backward to us.)

Keyspan Park
Home of the Brooklyn Cyclones

Excessive advertising is part of every ballpark. In the minor leagues, even the foul poles can sometimes sport ads. But Brooklyn takes direct marketing further with sponsors who literally walk through the stadium. There's King Henry, the spokesman of a local party-entertainment company who participates in on-field games, and up in the press box, the cape-wearing Applebee's Man, whose superpowers involve handing out free T-shirts. Though we respect the Cyclones' decision to commemorate everything the Brooklyn Dodgers ever did—from the last pitch in Ebbets Field history to Ralph Branca and the famed Shot Heard 'Round the World—we're more excited the region's best giveaway: the Marty Markowitz bobblehead doll!

Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George
Home of the Staten Island Yankees

Occasional appearances by actual New York Yankees are cool, but if that's what you wanted, you'd head for the Bronx. Far more enticing are the all-you-can-eat deals that accompany some tickets. (And to answer your question, no, beer isn't included.) The team also isn't above taking advantage of the pandemic Boston Red Sox rivalry. When a Sox affiliate offered free uniforms to Little League teams if they stopped using "Yankees" as their name, Staten Island responded with a weekend of anti-BoSox promotions like free tickets for head-shaves à la former Boston outfielder Johnny Damon and an open invitation to Massachusetts little leaguers who refused to change their team name.

Yogi Berra Stadium
Home of the New Jersey Jackals

We're kicking ourselves that we missed The Price Is Right Day on June 24, because most of the other promotions here are completely generic: '60s Night (July 24), Country Music Night (August 2), and Mardi Gras Night (August 21) make us yawn, yawn, yawn. Yogi Berra Stadium is, however, the park to go to if you're bored by baseball. There's an arcade, a huge hill suitable for sunbathing, and, for some reason, a basketball hoop for kids. The major drawback? The Jackals are an independent team with no Major League affiliation, so you've probably never heard of most of these guys, and you likely never will.


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