Whether playing catch until dusk on warm evenings, kicking back with some ice cream and a Mariners’ game on the radio or attending a game in-person, baseball is a classic part of summer.
Locally, the hometown Bellingham Bells play 57 games from June to August, with 30 home games at Joe Martin Field.
So, why take in a game?
1 It’s cheap, local and closer than Seattle
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General admission seats are $7. Dugout box seats are $12, and they’re the most expensive tickets available. While the lure of seeing a major league game is always there, locally-based concessions at Joe Martin Field are cheaper than Safeco Field, parking is free and you don’t have to deal with Seattle traffic.
2 The mascot is a giant hamster
The Bells boast a unique baseball mascot. “Dinger the Bellinghamster” is a large, baseball uniform-clad hamster, who’s always down to pose for pictures and give your kids a high-five. He also runs across the field during the middle of the fifth inning with kids of all ages, although they usually leave him in the dust.
3 Seeing a future Hall-of-Famer?
A slew of major leaguers have played summer ball in Bellingham, including Mariners’ greats Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Raul Ibanez. While the Bells are not associated with any one major league club, the West Coast League, which the Bells play in, had 16 former players on major league rosters, including Seattle’s Mitch Haniger, James Paxton and Marc Rzepczynski. Your kids could be watching a future star of the game.
4 They’re winners
The Bells have been winning a lot lately, with two trips to the West Coast League Championship Series in the past three years. They won it all in 2014.
5 There’s space to play
Joe Martin Field has room to roam, including a grassy hill area. Kids can run around, play catch and otherwise burn off some energy when they’re not watching the game.
I think a lot of families have found this (to be) a rewarding and fun part of their summer. There’s something for everybody to enjoy here, and not just baseball.
Stephanie Morrell, Bellingham Bells general manager
6 Kids get great access
Attending a Bells’ game gives kids the chance to participate in on-field promotions and contests, and they can easily get autographs from players. It’s the kind of access that isn’t always available to children at the major league level, says Bells’ general manager Stephanie Morrell.
7 Your kids can put away the electronics
Trading screen time for face time is obviously important in an ever-connected world. Getting them out of the house and interacting with you and others can help build interpersonal skills.
8 It teaches patience in a world of instant gratification
Baseball isn’t known as a sport matching today’s fast-paced world. It teaches patience, focus and hard work in a way your child won’t get through social media.
9 ‘Family Funday’ Sundays
Sunday home games give families a chance to play. Besides an early 3 p.m. first pitch, Sunday games feature balloon art, face painting and a bounce house, and all activities are included in the ticket price.
10 You all will make memories
Your kids are going to grow up. But years from now, you may both look back on these times and realize just how glad you are to have made those summertime memories.
“I think a lot of families have found this (to be) a rewarding and fun part of their summer,” Morrell says. “There’s something for everybody to enjoy here, and not just baseball.”