Take me out th the (minor league) ballgame

In homes across the area, spring means baseball, the season when hope, once again, springs eternal. Fortunately, a day at the ballpark doesn’t have to mean major league prices. The Chicago area has a slew of minor league baseball teams just waiting to show off America’s pastime with added fun to boot.

Kane County Cougars

Stadium: Elfstrom Stadium, Geneva; Opens 2 hours prior to game time. Free parking. Stroller friendly

Affiliation: Class A affiliate of the Oakland A’s

Mascot: Ozzie

Tickets: Box seats ($12), Reserved seats ($10), Lawn seats ($8). Free kids 1 and under unless they need their own seat.

Eats: Ballpark standards plus Mexican food and a famous Pork Chop Sandwich.

Kids will love: Ozzie’s Kidzone includes an Obstacle Course, Bounce/Moon Walk, Giant Climb-N-Slide and Speed Pitch. Pre-game autograph sessions Saturday and Sunday home games, 33 fireworks shows choreographed to music, post-game Run-the-Bases and appearances by Myron Noodleman, The Zooperstars and Jake the Diamond Dog. Peanut Free Night July 16. See Web site for scheduling.

Contact: 34W002 Cherry Lane, Geneva, (630) 232-8811

www.kccougars.com

Joliet Jackhammers

Stadium: Silver Cross Field, Joliet; Gates open one hour prior to game time. Free parking in surrounding city lots.

Affiliation: Independent Northern League

Mascot: Jammer, plus Champ, the official team dog.

Tickets: Box seats ($10), Reserved seats ($7), G.A./Lawn Seats ($5).

Eats: Ballpark standards plus Homeplate Grille.

Kids will love: Home game specials include post-game autograph sessions on the field (Sundays); Family Nights early start-time and post-game Run-the-Bases (Tuesdays); Post-game tennis ball toss (Wednesdays); Fireworks Night (Fridays). See Web site for additional entertainment. Jammer’s Book Buddies.

Contact: 1 Mayor Art Schultz Drive, Joliet, (815) 726-BALL, www.jackhammerbaseball.com

Schaumburg Flyers

Stadium: Alexian Field, Schaumburg; Opens 1 hour 20 minutes prior to game time. Free parking. Stroller friendly.

Affiliation: Independent Northern League

Mascot: Bearon

Tickets: Reserved Club ($11), Reserved ($10), Lawn/Bleacher ($5). Free kids 1 and under.

Eats: Ballpark standards plus the Schaumburg Club, a sit-down, buffet style restaurant on the Suite Level.

Kids will love: Speed Pitch. Sundays are Family Days with face painters, balloon entertainers and Run-the-Bases after the game. Bearon’s Kids Club.

Contact: 1999 Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg, (847) 891-2255, www.flyersbaseball.com

Windy City Thunderbolts

Stadium: Standard Bank Stadium, Crestwood; Gates open 1 hour prior to game time. Parking $2 per vehicle. Stroller friendly.

Affiliation: Frontier League, 2007 Champions

Mascot: Boomer

Tickets: Lower deck box seat ($8). Upper deck box seat ($7). Families of three or more will get $2 off the regular price of each lower deck ticket at the box office for all Sunday home games.

Eats: Ballpark standards. $1 sodas on Thursdays and Fridays.

Kids will love: Speed Pitch. Bounce House. New batting practice"air tee.” Sundays are Family Days with autograph sessions after the game. Run-the-Bases after every game except Fireworks nights. See Web site for schedule. Boomer’s Buddies Kids Club.

Contact: 14011 S. Kenton Ave, Crestwood, (708) 489-BALL, 

www.wcthunderbolts.com

Gary Southshore Railcats

Stadium: U. S. Steel Yard; Gates open 1 hour prior to game time.

Affiliation: Independent Northern League, 2007 Champions

Mascot: Rusty the Rail Cat

Tickets: Box ($10), Reserved ($9). $1 discount for kids ages 3-13. Outfield Terrace ($7). Free kids 2 and under.

Eats: Ballpark standards plus Bennigan’s Casual Dining restaurant.

Kids will love: Kidz Zone playground area for children only. Autograph sessions with player picture packs before Tuesday home games. Run-the-Bases after Sunday home games. RailKids Club.

Contact: One Stadium Plaza, Gary, Ind., (219) 882-2255, 

www.railcatsbaseball.com 

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