Introduction

Introduction

I have never heard a man laying on his death bed with seconds to live mumbling how he just didn't spend enough time in the office. What's wrong with us Dad's? Why do we keep telling ourselves that this year is going to be different? This year I will lose 20 pounds. This year I will read my Bible cover to cover. This year I will be a better father! Well, this year I will be a better father.


When you close your eyes and vision that perfect childhood memory, what do you see? For me, it was the smell of Wrigley Field (for better or worse). It was the sound of the organ, the roar of the crowd, and the electric energy that follows the game that I loved best...Baseball! I wanted those same memories for my kids. We live just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina which puts us right in the middle of some of the best minor league baseball in the country. I figure I have a good 12 years left with my kids in the house and time is flying by. I cancelled a few meetings and took them to our local ballpark.


I have 3 kids ages 6, 12, & 14. They are great kids and I love every minute that I get to spend with them. I want to start creating a legacy of memories that continue for many generations. Baseball will live long past me and will continue to provide those memories in my absence. The purpose of this blog is to not only document the moments I get to spend with my kids, but analyze every minor league ballpark in the United States. My kids will be doing the analysis as well as many of the blog posts. What ballparks are family friendly? What parks give your family the most for their money? What do the players have to say about their team and the park they play in? Who has the coolest uniforms? Right from the mouth (or fingers) of babes. That's 240 teams in 12 years, an average of 20 games per year. We might not reach our goal...but man is it going to be fun trying!

Family Friendly Chart


Family Friendly Score Team Chart
Team
Parking
Out of Park Experience
Ticket Price
Team Store
Team Hat/Logo
Ballpark Bling
Seating
Food
Bathrooms
Hype Man
FFS Score
Winston-Salem Dash
8
5
6
4
9
9
8
8
7
8
7.2
Durham Bulls
5
9
8
8
8
6
5
9
6
6
7
Peoria Chiefs 
8
5
9
8
8
9
7
7
7.7
Carolina
Mudcats

9
5
10
9
9
7
9
7
7
9
8.1
Jacksonville
Suns

8
6
8
8
8
10
9
8
8
7
8.0
Daytona Tortugas
9
10
10
5
10
9
8
9
7
7
8.4
Jupiter Hammerheads
9
10
10
8
8
6
9
8
8
6
8.2
0
0
0
0

How Do We Rate?
     Although not an exact a science, it is important to explain the rating system for every minor league park we visit.  It is also important to remember that these rating are based on the view from a child's eyes as well as that of a parent and family.  Some ballparks cater to a different demographic of customer, thus their rating may be lower.  A low rating doesn't always represent a bad experience or ballpark.  It simply means that according to this Family Friendly Scale, it did not exhibit the qualities that provide the best experience for a family.

Parking - 
8 - 10 : The parking facility is within a close proximity to the ballpark.  It is easy to access and provides a safe environment for a family to enter the stadium.  The cost of parking is also considered in a high score.  Obviously free parking would account for a high Parking score.
4 - 7 : Parking may be a longer distance from the stadium for a family to walk.  The cost may also be higher compared to other parks visited.  The average cost for parking is $5.00 per vehicle with the average distance being under 300 feet.
1 - 3 : Parking is unsafe and may not only provide harm to your vehicle, but also does not provide a safe route for a family to walk to and from the park during all times of the day.
Out of Park Experience - 
8 - 10 : What is there to do outside the park?  For families wanting to make a day out of the experience, a high score offers plenty of food options, cultural opportunities, and other fun activities for the family to participate in.
4 - 7 : The stadium is in an accessible location, but does not feature many options for a family to extend their day past just going to a game.
1 - 3 : A ballpark with this score is in the middle of the desert, surrounded by a moat, with only a prison and an IRS office in the near area.  
Ticket Price - 
8 - 10 : A high score in this category offers many options for families to attend games.  It is not always the cheapest price, but the opportunity to experience the park in different ways is available.  They also may offer really good promotions for buying a ticket on that day.
4 - 7 : Either the price is low but there are no options other than buying a seat, or the prices are not reasonable for a family to come to the park.  It may also be a more difficult ticket buying experience. The average ticket cost for a minor league ballpark is $12.00.
1 - 3 : A very low score means you have just refinanced your home in order to go to the park today or the process of buying the tickets was a complete nightmare.
Team Store - 
8 - 10 : The store is located in an area that is easy to access and provides opportunity to purchase merchandise from inside and outside the park.  It has a good appearance both inside and out, and the merchandise is well organized and easy to look through.  The prices are fair and offer many options for every budget.
4 - 7 : The appearance of the store has not been kept up, or the customer service does not provide the best possible experience.  The prices do not provide different options for all members of the family to find that perfect souvenir.  The average cost for a New Era 59 hat is $30.00.
1 - 3 : The store is in a beat up trailer with a broken air conditioning unit.  They have one type of  hat to purchase and it is a size 8, and the words customer service in this store are an oxymoron.
Team Hat / Logo -
8 - 10 : This club knows that their brand is very important and used that knowledge in the design and application of their logo and uniforms.  They use a variety of different hats and uniform designs.
4 - 7 : The logo and uniform designs are nothing special.  They are not very creative or have not used that image to create a unique brand in their market.
1 - 3 : A low score means this team has resurrected the 1980's colors of peach and teal.  Their logo shows the creativity of a horse fly (not discriminating against the horse fly), and they only have one hat option that is high crown.
Ball Park Bling -
8 - 10 : What is there to do in the park?  A high scoring ballpark has provided many options for the family without ruining the essence of the ballgame.  These options may include a play area for kids with a swing set or bouncy houses, a prize wheel, pitching machine, fireworks and other on-field activities.
4 - 7 : You can tell that they made an effort to cater to the family, but just fell a little short.  There are a few things to do, but your 6 year old is ready to go before the 3rd inning.
1 - 3 : This park is a wasteland of concrete and grass.  There is nothing to do but sit in your hard plastic chair and listen to your child ask if we are ready to go yet.  There is not a baseball experience being provided on the field and everyone is done before the 3rd inning.
Seating -
8 - 10 : This ballpark provides a great experience from every seat.  Viewing is not distracted by smoking, partying, drinking, or anything else that reduces your overall experience.  The seats are comfortable and within close proximity to any Ball Park Bling at the stadium.
4 - 7 : Although there may be good seats in the stadium, some of the seats provide a lot of distraction or experiences that are not appropriate for families.  They may be difficult to access or not close to anything that families like to do.
1 - 3 : A low score means that you feel like you have been sitting on a bed of spikes the entire night.  You have also been sitting next to a raging bachelor party who wouldn't know a baseball game is going playing even if a ball hit them on the head.
Food -
8 - 10 : The highest score offers a buffet of juicy goodness.  There are plenty of options both commercial and stadium created.  You can have a Chick-fil-a sandwich or custom BBQ concoction not to be found anywhere else.  The prices are good and sodas have unlimited refills.
4 - 7 : A middle score gives options, but the choices are either overpriced or too few.  They have no creativity in their food and there is only one stand that can you can purchase from.
1 - 3 : For this rating, either they serve no food or you have left in the 4th inning with food poisoning.  I have found that these ratings usually give us the most comprehensive review of the bathrooms.
Bathrooms -
8 - 10 : These are always clean and safe.  They are well lit with plenty of options to conduct your business.  The bathrooms are either piped with sound from the announcers or feature the game on TV.  They offer advertisements in strategic places and have multiple locations around the park.
4 - 7 : These bathrooms are mostly clean but offer nothing more than a place to empty before you refill.  There may be only one or two locations in the park.
1 - 3 : Picture a Wrigley Field trough peeing experience here.  You would rather deal with the intestinal cramps than do your business in this place.
Hype Man / Mascot -
8 - 10 : This club features both an electric hype man (person) and an energetic mascot.  Together they make the crowd laugh and keep them entertained.  The mascot works the crowd both on and off the field.  They are funny and makes each kid feel special when they walk by.
4 - 7 : This score is usually given when only one exists.  They are both so important and it is a shame when they are not used to their full capacity.  The mascot has no energy or the hype person is so annoying you are praying for a stray foul ball.
1 - 3 : There is no hype man or mascot present in the ballpark.  You could also see a hype man that speaks in a falsetto voice and the mascot that walks around with his mascot head under his arm and cigarette dangling from his lips.
Kid's Thoughts -
8 - 10 : This is a park that you need to see right away.  It offers a great family experience that checks off just about every box on the list.  You will be entertained, with a full belly, and see baseball how it is meant to be viewed.
4 - 7 : A middle score does not mean that this is a bad ball club and that you would not have a great time.  It means that according to our Family Friendly Scale, we found that some categories did not provide an experience that we consider fun for the whole family.
1 - 3 : Please...please...please do not go to this park.  If you are reading this then we survived, but just barely.



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