Baseball is as synonymous with summertime in America as apple pie and the 4th of July. It's our national pastime. It's late afternoon games spent with friends and family, sipping cold beers and cheering on the home team.
Baseball is a sport that the majority of Americans played during their childhood days, whether on a team or just around the neighborhood. The English game 'rounders' shares similar roots to baseball. Today the game is played in many countries around the world, but its heart and soul is deeply American. The experience of attending a game is something most visitors always enjoy. Here are five of my must-do's while at a game.
1. Eat ice cream in a helmet
Baseball stadiums are lined with dozens upon dozens of food stands, but they can mostly be narrowed down to three main categories; beer, hotdogs and ice cream. Now, I may have a personal bias towards this one, because of my huge affinity for ice cream, but having it served up in a little plastic baseball helmet takes it to another level altogether. Not only do you get a massive serving of ice cream, but you get to take home that little hat, complete with the home teams logo. Talk about a cool thing to collect, right?! There will likely be two varieties of ice cream to choose from; the hard ice cream or soft serve topped with rainbow sprinkles. The choice is yours.
2. Foam Finger Fanatics
This is something I took for granted growing up, but apparently it's a very American thing to have foam fingers at games. I took one of my groups to see a game in Kentucky and all one girl wanted was a foam finger! She'd always seen them in the movies at American sporting events and couldn't wait to get one. Much to her dismay, the game was sold out of them! Hit up those souvenir stands early to score your very own foam finger to wave wildly during the game.
3. Chow down on Cracker Jacks
These little snack gems have been sold at baseball games for nearly as long as the games have been played. It's a box filled with molasses-covered popcorn and peanuts, but the best part is the prize that is buried inside. Over the years the prizes have changed from little plastic toys, to tattoos to stickers. They are sold by workers roaming the stands tossing snacks across the bleachers, yelling "Cracker Jaaaaacks. Get your Cracker Jaaaaacks." The snacks are even mentioned in the classic song "Take Me Out to The Ball Game", which brings me to my next 'must-do'.
4. Sing "Take me out to the ball game"
Baseball is a game played with nine innings, where an inning consists of each team taking the field and getting up to bat. Usually games last for several hours and it's late in the game, when you've had several beers and are getting a tad sleepy, when the whole crowd stands. The time between the 7th inning is called The 7th Inning Stretch. Get ready for this. Over the loud speakers a tune starts, the audience is humming with anticipation, and the song begins... "Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd, just buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I never get back. For it's root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes you're out, at the old ball game." Watch the crowd roar with applause!
5. How could you not order a hot dog?
Probably the most American of all foods, especially at a baseball game, hot dogs are a definite must-do. The options are basic and the toppings include ketchup, mustard, and relish. That's it and it's all you really need. The quality will be paltry at best, and it certainly won't be gourmet. But there's nothing quite like biting into a hot dog on a warm summer afternoon at a baseball game in America.
Photo credit: Patrick Evans-Hylton
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