Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Eliza Clark
July 29, 2008

Still looking for an easy summer escape from the grind and the routine? There's one ready made for preschoolers and parents at every ball park in the country. Yup, these kids of ours really enjoy an afternoon at a baseball game. The pleasures are many: spotting favorite players, keeping score, hot dogs, popcorn and a little lemonade, perhaps a nice nap during the middle innings (we can always hope).... It's at least four hours spent away in another world, the world of baseball -- a parallel universe with its own jargon, rules, history, heroes, dress code, and, of course, food.

Speaking of which, did you see The New York Times' survey of ballpark food around the country? It's actually mouthwatering -- who would have thunk it?

We mention it because, just like anything with preschoolers, the key to a great time at the game is a well-fed and reasonably rested child, and hopefully a bit of insider knowledge about kid-friendly aspects of the place you are visiting. For the latter, look no further than our Being Savvy city guides to ballparks around the country. To discover what's most fun for the kiddos about your very own ballpark, see the drop-down list "Being Savvy near you" on our home page and look up your hometown.

The other key, of course, is getting your little one into the game before you drop them into the middle of the ballpark. So get out there and bat some balls around, and later curl up with some wonderful books that introduce the fundamentals. Here's our Tuesday list of ideas for doing just that:

  • H is for Home Run: A Baseball Alphabet by Brad Herzog. This well-done alphabet book offers words and phrases as well as definitions and explanations of key baseball concepts. Famous players and stadiums are highlighted (J is for Jackie Robinson, W for Wrigley Field), as well as elemental features of the game (O, of course, is for three strikes you're Out). The youngest novice will enjoy the catchy rhymes and lovely pictures. Older preschoolers will delight in the baseball facts jam-packed into the book's margins: did you know that twelve former little leaguers have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? If you needed any inspiration to get your tee-ball set up in the back yard or at the playground, here it is.
  • My Baseball Book by Gail Gibbons. The lingo is one thing -- how it all fits together as a game, well, that's where it gets complicated. If your little one has been bitten by the baseball bug, and yet you yourself are not the all-knowing baseball sage that you are suddenly expected to be, this handy volume comes right to your rescue. Savvy as we parents may be in virtually every other aspect of life (yeah, right!), not all of us are completely crystal clear on the difference between a fly ball and a foul ball. And that's okay, really. But if you find yourself feigning temporary deafness when you hear the question "What's a strike zone, Mama?" then do consider this little book which explains it all, from the equipment to the rules of the game, from the first pitch to the last out. You and your wee player will feel a whole lot savvier, we promise.
  • Triple Hit Baseball by Fisher Price. But enough with the books, already! We're talking about baseball here! The only words you need to know are ball and bat, and the only toy you'll want is this ingenious tee/pitching device from Fisher Price. This is one of those toys that truly grows with your child, keeping step with his or her developing skills. For the beginner, it works as a tee; for the "rookie" player, it offers pop-up pitches; and for the child who is ready for the next step, it turns into a veritable pitching machine. Any young player is bound to get hours and hours of fun for years on end out of this toy -- what more could we ask for? Well, maybe just a few extra balls so that we don't spend the rest of eternity chasing down the three included here (additional balls are available from the manufacturer, and wiffle balls, apparently, work too, so step up to the plate!).
  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Jack Norworth and Jim Burke. Yes, you know the song. Perhaps you've even found yourself crooning this old tune as you lull your little tee-ball slugger to sleep on a summer's eve. It doesn't get any better than that, right? Oh, but it does. This lovely illustrated volume gives us the history behind the song, and the complete lyrics. Who knew that this ever popular tune was composed almost one hundred years ago? Who knew that the song is about a girl named Kate who is crazy for baseball? You'll learn all that and much more baseball lore from these pages, and your small fan will add a classic American song to her repertoire. And don't be surprised when she too demands that you take her out to a ballgame.

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    My kids are getting in on the baseball fever and practicing thier "fielding" in our back yard wading pool. Their Dad invented a game where he throws the wiffle ball up and if no one catches it before it hits the water, he gets a "home run" if it's caught, then they get to say, "you're out!". It kept my 3 and 5-year-old occupied for over an hour!

    over a year ago


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