Minor league sports around the bay
Bay Area residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching sports live. Fans willing to fork the cash and navigate crowded parking lots and mega-stadiums can watch our formidable pro teams battle it out for major titles. But the bay is also home to a number of minor and independent league sports teams that offer the day-to-day baseball experience on a more casual scale.
These teams are made up of elite athletes playing at lower levels, from beginner level to near major level, but what the games can lack in terms of world-class competitiveness, they more than make up for in the atmosphere and the access.
In minor league and independent league games, fans sit near the players, so you really feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. There are a number of players playing in the big leagues as well, so you always have the chance to see a new star in their infancy. In addition, the major leagues sometimes play with minor league teams during rehabilitation from injuries and the like, so you can also see current stars.
But the real secret about minor league games and independent sports is that they are all about the experience. You get game day fun, with food and drink sales, cheering crowds, booming speakers, and the chance (in baseball’s case, anyway) to catch a flying ball. . Franchises also tend to sweeten the deal with plenty of special occasions and additional entertainment, like fireworks parties, concerts and all kinds of sponsored giveaways.
So if you’re looking for a fun outing with a sporting angle, the Hoodline Bay Area Day Trip Series gives you a taste of some of the area’s smaller league teams with a winning vibe.
Fans order food trucks ahead of the Oakland Roots comeback game at Laney College in Oakland. Photo: Laila Weir / Hoodline
Oakland Roots Soccer Club
They’ve only been around for a few years, but the Oakland Roots are already building a loyal fan base, in part thanks to great merchandise and a major community aspect of the club. The team was admitted this year to the USL Championship, a professional men’s football league in Division II (mainly minor league). The games provide a lot of fun and local pride with a neighborhood party vibe.
More information: www.oaklandrootssc.com
Sacramento River Cats Baseball
A triple A branch of the San Francisco Giants, the River Cats are the highest official level in Minor League Baseball. Tickets are super affordable and the River Cats have all kinds of fun days and specials that include fireworks nights, Thirsty Thursdays (with, you guessed it, craft beer), and value Tuesdays. family with hot dogs and $ 1 ice cream. Also look for games that offer freebies (tip: arrive early to make sure you have your schwag).
More information: www.milb.com/sacramento
Fireworks explode over the San Jose Giants stadium. Photo: Laila Weir / Hoodline
San José Giants Baseball
On the other end of the spectrum, the San Jose Giants are the Giants’ Low-A affiliate, which is the lowest tier in the minor league. Still, some former players on the team make it to the majors every year, and various stars also make appearances in rehab in San Jose, like Madison Bumgarner, who played with the team while recovering in 2017. The stadium is famous for its garlic churros and fries, among many other food and drink options, and hosts popular fireworks parties, giveaways, and other promotions.
More information: www.milb.com/san-jose
Stockton Port Baseball
For those who wish to travel a little further, the Ports of Stockton are the Low-A branch of Oakland A, with their own range of fun promotions, including a $ 1 beer night for those with a volunteer designated driver.
More information: www.milb.com/stockton
Independent baseball in San Rafael, Santa Cruz, Martinez and Monterey
The Pecos League is an independent baseball league that operates in various towns in the Southwest that do not have major or minor baseball teams. Last year, three new teams from the Bay Area joined the league, and there is also a team in Monterey. The league, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball, advertises high-powered offenses fueled in part by smaller stadiums. “Our players come from all over the United States and around the world and are a combination of rising stars, shooting stars, shooting stars and athletes with stars in their eyes,” the league said.
The Pecos League only plays during the summer break, so its season is ending, but you can see the big final this weekend: the League’s Bay Series. Get tickets and more details via the links below for the four most easily accessible teams for day trips from the Bay.
San Rafael Pacifics: www.pacificsbaseball.com
Santa Cruz seaweed: www.seaweedbaseball.com
Sturgeon Martinez: www.martinezsturgeon.com
Monterey Amberjacks: www.montereyamberjacks.com
Bonus: basketball day trips in fall and winter
As basketball season approaches, don’t forget to take a look at the local NBA G League teams: the Santa Cruz Warriors and the Stockton Kings.