Bowie Baysox: MiLB in the DMV

Well, well. It’s been a few months since I’ve put any time in to the RFTHT blog. Moving, new jobs, and settling into a new (major) city will do that to you. With that said, I haven’t completed deprived myself of baseball, and after four games at Nationals Park (post coming soon), I finally caught some Minor League action yesterday.

The Bowie Baysox are nestled into the burbs, roughly 20 miles east from my humble abode. It was one of the longest adventures in the DMV so far, despite my nearly six months living in the DC area. For whatever reason, outside of the occasional Nats game, baseball has not happened at the frequency I would’ve liked it to. I set a goal of attending at least two minor league games and visiting three major league parks this season. Well, it’s August and I’ve seen exactly two parks.

Way to set goals, Joel…

Anyways! The Bowie Baysox are the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, playing in the Eastern League, (fun fact, every Baltimore affiliate,aside from their Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League teams, is in either Maryland or Virginia; quite convenient) and located just a few miles east of Washington and south of Baltimore. They play in Prince George’s Stadium, located in well, Prince George’s County, Maryland. Like many suburban minor league parks, the Baysox’s home is nestled in a comfortable suburban spot, behind shops, restaurants, and not far from the highway. Despite usual D.C. traffic, it wasn’t all that terrible driving from Northern Virginia to Bowie.

Prince George’s Stadium is a fairly large AA park, and according to the Baysox official website, the park holds 10,000. The stadium opened in 1994 and is similar to many MiLB parks I’ve visited over the last several years. Nothing too distinct, but a perfectly serviceable ballpark. A reasonable amount of concession stands, including a few craft beer offerings (a growing trend in MiLB), litter the main concourse. The second level is exclusive to suites, while the main concourse has box seats, along with a significant number of bleacher seats above the box seats. Like other MiLB facilities, there are activities–beyond baseball–for the kids, including  a merry-go-round, a bouncy house, and other junk meant to placate a sugared up 8-year-old who’s grown tired of the game.

Prices were reasonable for the areas, with tickets ranging from $12 to $17. Ansley and I optioned for box seats behind the visitor’s dugout along the third base line, giving us shade by the later innings of the first game (it was a double header).

The game was actually two, as the Baysox hosted the Richmond Flying Squirrels for a pair of 7-inning games. To clarify, we did not stay for the entirety of the second game. Once we reached nine total innings, and therefore had seen an entire baseball game, we decided to depart Prince George’s Stadium to trek back to Virginia, but during our time, we saw the Baysox crush the ball for 8 runs in the first game, providing more than a few headaches for the Squirrels’ pitching staff. Bowie won game one by a score of 8-2, but their victory was short-lived. The Squirrels came out swinging in game two, taking an early lead they never relinquished, as they returned the favor, beating Bowie by a score of 8-2 in the second game.

Neither team’s had a particularly hot 2016 (especially disappointing for the 2015 Eastern League Champion, Bowie Baysox), as both are languishing near the bottom of the Eastern League’s Western Division. Both teams find themselves roughly 15 games out of first place, and with just 4 weeks of the season left, it seems likely both sides are playing for pride, and the players are hoping to make a good enough impression with scouts from their respective MLB affiliates.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience. Both games had a great crowd (helped by hot, but not oppressive weather), with fans enjoying what AA baseball has to offer. Frankly, it was great to see Baysox draw a decent crowd on a Saturday night, especially with the Nationals playing the Giants in D.C. I was curious how well a MiLB game would draw so close to two major league teams, but Bowie seems to have carved out their own niche. With several other minor league teams in the DMV, I’m curious whether my experience in Bowie translates to Potomac, Frederick, or other MiLB spots in the region.

A fun note about last night’s game. It was August 6, which marked the fifth anniversary of my first game on this Root For The Home Team adventure I started with Will. Five years of visiting random parks. Sure, I haven’t seen nearly as many parks as some of the epic baseball fans who make it a point to see all 30 MLB stadiums in a season, or those who see an entire MiLB league in a season. However, in the last five years, I feel fortunate to have visited 17 parks (although two were rainouts without the chance for a makeup game), and all have their unique quirks.

From single-A up to the majors, each park has its own unique features and it’s what makes baseball great. From the big cities, to small towns and suburbs, baseball is ubiquitous in American culture, regardless of football’s reign as America’s favorite sport. There’s not a professional football team in Bowie, Maryland or Rome, Georgia draw thousands of fans on a hot summer night. Baseball, on the other hand, makes it happen. I hope I can catch another game or two before the season ends (Baltimore is at the top of the list) and as I settle into life as a Mid-Atlantic resident, I hope I can see many MLB and MiLB parks in the years to come.

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