Every summer, I have a few things on a mental bucket list that I’d like to do with my children. This summer, one of those things was take them to a baseball game. My daughter and my husband went to a Nationals game the year that my son was born, but we have never gone as a family. I thought that a minor league game would best suit our needs so I checked out the Richmond Flying Squirrels. It turns out that the Flying Squirrels have an amazing kids club with promotions specifically geared toward children ages 14 and under. Score!
The Squirrel Tails Kids Club is free for fans aged 14 and under. I easily signed my kids up using a quick online form. Membership in the kids club gives young fans free access to all Sunday games, a free membership card, free autograph sessions, the ability to play catch on the field before and run the bases after every Sunday game, as well as discounts. Given all the benefits of attending a Sunday game, in addition to the fact that Sunday games are in the middle of the day rather than at night, I chose Sunday, July 10 as our preferred game date.
The morning of July 10, my family was reluctant to leave the house. Even my husband was grousing about driving down to Richmond! But I insisted that it would be a good break in our normal routine, and I coaxed the kids out of the house knowing that the first 1,500 young fans received a free Nutsy or Nutasha superhero cape. I also allowed my two to wear their favorite superhero costume to the game (and packed a change of clothes for each), seeing as it was superhero day at the park!
When we got down to the stadium, I learned that I needed cash to park. Thankfully we found a nearby ATM quickly. I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time—we’d never seen the stadium, so I opted to buy general admission tickets at the gate rather than have assigned seats. Even with the unexpected ATM detour and the stop to buy two adult tickets, we made it inside in time to run on the field before the game started. Watching my small children on the large baseball outfield was a special experience. As a parent, one of the great joys is experiencing life through the perspective of a child again. Their unbridled excitement and wide eyes nearly brought tears to mine, and I knew that we made the right choice in trekking down to the game.
It was a hot Sunday, so we picked seats in the very top row of the stadium where we could be shaded. My seven-month-pregnant self wasn’t thrilled about climbing all the stairs, especially because my three-year-old insisted that I carry him, but I was happy about the shade. Life is about compromise; what can I say? We sat through all nine innings, with breaks for lemonade, popcorn and Italian shaved ice. I explained the rules of the game to my daughter and spotted the mascots with my son. It was a great time! Being at the top of the stadium gave us room to spread out so my children could wiggle without being disruptive. And of course after the game, we stayed to run the bases!
If you know my son, he is FAST. Here pretty soon I'm not going to be able to catch him anymore, even though my legs are double as long. The kid has wheels! The promise of running the bases kept him going through the game, and when it was finally time he could barely contain his excitement! We walked down to the field where we found a line of children waiting to go on the field. Maggie and Brendan were escorted sans-parents out onto first base where the announcer asked them to say their name into the microphone. Brendan was way too focused on running to say his name and he took off like a shot just as we heard Maggie proclaim herself as “Maggie!” very loud and clear. Brendan decided to chart his own course inside of the base line, and he was on lap number two before the staff realized that there was a loose runner on the field! He made it back to first base where an escort found him and ran with him around the baseline…just once. Maggie, being our first child, followed the rules and ran the bases with ease. I laughed the entire time watching them: the differences between my two children is sometimes so apparent and entertaining!
I highly recommend a Flying Squirrels game to anyone with the vicinity of Richmond. Be sure to check out the Kids Club promotions before you go. And please, stay to watch your children run the bases. It is magical!