Fans pack the stands to watch the Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park in downtown Norfolk, Va. Photo courtesy of Norfolk Tides

More Parks to Visit

Aberdeen IronBirds
Class A Short Season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles
Ripken Stadium
873 Long Drive, Aberdeen, Md.
Tickets: $9.50 to $16
Distance from Bethesda: 69 miles

Delmarva Shorebirds
Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles
Arthur W. Perdue Stadium
6400 Hobbs Road, Salisbury, Md.
Tickets: $5 to $13
Distance from Bethesda: 128 miles

Richmond Flying Squirrels
Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants
The Diamond
3001 N. Boulevard, Richmond, Va.
Tickets: $4 to $19
Distance from Bethesda:  113 miles

A League of Their Own

The minors aren’t the only good baseball deal in our region. If you enjoy seeing true amateurs play for the sheer love of the sport, check out the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League—a wooden bat summer system made up of 10 teams in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Created in 2005 and named in honor of legendary Baltimore Orioles coach and manager Cal Ripken Sr., the league is exclusively for college players who are 23 and under. And it’s competitive. Roughly 35 to 39 of its players are drafted each year into the Minor League Baseball farm system, estimates league commissioner Robert M. Douglas.

“We always have scouts here to see these kids,” he says.

Each team has 30 players on the roster and plays 42 games, starting in June. Ticket prices range from $3 to $7. As in the minors, games offer a variety of kid-and family-friendly promotions and entertainment—although unfortunately, no fireworks.

Nearby Cal Ripken teams include the the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, Rockville Express, and the three-time defending league champions, Bethesda Big Train, which plays at Shirley Povich Field off Westlake Drive in Rockville.

“It’s baseball the way it was intended to be played—with a wooden bat,” says Big Train manager Sal Colangelo, now in his 14th year with the team. “We bring in some of the best players from across the country and present a family-friendly environment.”

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Nigel F. Maynard grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where baseball is king. A fanatical Yankee supporter all through junior high, he is now a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan and catches the occasional Bowie Baysox game. He lives in Hyattsville.