Baseball season has arrived in New York! If you are looking for a way to enjoy a ball game with your kids, we have got your guide to family-friendly baseball in and around NYC right here. Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for 2022.
But before you go to a game …
Because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns, check the team’s website for any safety protocols that may need to be observed. Also, review its policy for bringing bags (such as diaper bags) and outside food and drink into the ballpark.
Family-friendly NYC baseball: Major Leagues
New York Mets — We’ve written many times over the years about how the Mets and Citi Field in Queens, by far, are the most family-friendly Major League Baseball option in NYC. They offer family/child ticket deals, giveaways and, after Sunday home games, a post-game “kids run the bases” event. They have an awesome fun zone to entertain kids, big and small, in the center field plaza. And don’t forget the perks like free tickets and gear if your child joins the Mr. and Mrs. Met’s Kids Club. In 2022, the Mets added a Sensory Nook, a specially designed quiet area to help those with autism, ADHD and dyslexia escape from the overstimulation that can occur at major sporting events.
New York Yankees — The perennial AL East contenders finally started offering something just for your little Bronx Bomber at Yankee Stadium in 2017. That’s when the team opened its Kids Clubhouse, a 2,850-square-foot area on the 300 level in right field. It has baseball-themed playground equipment on a soft artificial surface and shaded areas with interactive exhibits. Parents can play along or watch the kiddies from a dugout a few feet away. The area includes TV monitors so you don’t miss the game, family restrooms with changing tables and a private space for nursing mothers.
Family-friendly NYC area baseball: The Minors
Sure, it’s not the big leagues. For families, though, minor league baseball is much cheaper and often more fun. You and the kids can get closer to the action at these more intimate parks and the home teams tend to emphasize entertaining the fans more than just making a buck.
Brooklyn Cyclones — The Single A affiliate of the Mets offers the Puzzle Piece Funhouse, “a sensory safe space, designed specifically to accommodate children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as their families,” according to their website. You must apply online to use this space. Check the promotion schedule for fireworks nights and the chance to run the bases after a game. Tickets tend to sellout quickly for this cool park that has views of both the Atlantic Ocean and neighboring Coney Island.
Somerset Patriots — Pinstripers of the future are showcased in Bridgewater Township, N.J., a bit over an hour from Manhattan by car or 75 to 90 minutes by train. After hosting an independent team for more than 20 years, the Patriots in 2012 became the Yankees’ Double A affiliate. This beautiful retro style park, opened in 1999, features lawn seating for the squirmier set. There’s also a kids’ fun zone, frequent post-game fireworks shows and Sunday kids “run the bases” events. You can even order food from any seat using a mobile app then pick it up at the concession to minimize missing game action. If you plan on hitting multiple games, consider having your child join the Sluggers Kids Club. For $25, they get tickets to 6 Sunday home games, a T-shirt and access to some cool kid events, including a pre-game on-field parade.
Independent, collegiate league baseball for the family
Independent and collegiate league baseball is another great baseball option. The level of play may be a step below the Minors, but your kids will have as much — if not more — fun. You may see some past or future big league starts. Best of all, it’s only a fraction of the cost.
Long Island Ducks — Just an hour east of Queens in Central Islip and only a short Uber ride from the nearest Long Island Railroad stop are the Ducks. This original member of the independent Atlantic League always competes for the title. Kis under age 3 are free but must sit on an adult’s lap. Children age 14 and under can join the Kids Club to receive discounts and special deals. Watch for special on-field events and promotions.
New Jersey Jackals — Part of the independent Frontier League, the Little Falls, N.J.-based Jackals offer a cool deal for groups. The Baseball Buddies program lets kids be introduced and take the field with the players for the national anthem. The stadium, which also features a kids’ zone area and the usual game-day promotions, is just an hour from Penn Station by NJ Transit train. And just across the road, don’t miss the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center — a great tribute to the legendary Yankee and the game.
New York Boulders — Also part of the Frontier League, the (formerly Rockland) Boulders play in a beautiful ballpark in Pomona, N.Y., about 80 minutes by car north of Manhattan. In addition to a playground, there’s also a batting cage, a mini-golf course and mini-train ride. All have a clear view to the field so you don’t miss the on-field action. Plus, the players exit the field through the stands so stick around after the game for autographs and photos (see the photo at the top of this post).
Staten Island FerryHawks — New in 2022 is this independent Atlantic League team. They play in the newly renovated former home of the Single A Yankees affiliate. It’s a short walk from the Staten Island ferry. Children 3 years or younger are not required to have a ticket during game days. Kids can run the bases after Sunday home games.
Trenton Thunder — This former Yankees affiliate is now in the MLB Draft League, a summer collegiate league for top baseball prospects. Your child can join Boomer’s Kids Club, a paid membership deal that offers ticket and gear discounts and cool game-day/on-field opportunities. Look for promo days when kids eat free or can run the bases. Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton is about 90 minutes from NYC, via car or N.J. Transit train.
Photos: Kevin McKeever