8 Things To Do At The Ballpark (Besides Watch The Game)

Getty Images
Getty Images

If you're a sports fan, nothing beats the thrill of going to a game. If you're not a sports fan, nothing is quite as interminable as being dragged to a game. Simply eating a $12 plastic container of bland nachos isn't going to kill three hours, so you'll have to go out scouting for adventure. You might want to consider one of these fantastic diversions.

1. Pony Riding, Cheney Stadium

Few fans remember the 2004 Tacoma Rainiers' season win-loss record, but scores can probably tell you that it was the year the ponies invaded Cheney Stadium. The Seattle Mariners' AAA minor-league affiliate turned home games into every ten-year-old girl's dream. Not only could young fans ride ponies on the field, but a pony also delivered the game ball to the mound before the first pitch. Sadly, the Rainiers' media office told me this stellar attraction ended with the 2004 season, which means the 2005 season probably broke some sort of record for highest number of crying, disappointed fans under the age of ten.

2. Ferris Wheeling, Comerica Park

 

Detroit's old Tiger Stadium may have been flush with history, but nobody was going to mistake it for a carnival midway. The Tigers' current home at Comerica Park fixes that problem with both a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round. The Ferris wheel's cars are actually shaped like baseballs, an aesthetic choice that underscores the strong historical link between Ferris wheels and baseball. No one's so sure what that link is, but it's underscored quite thoroughly.

3. Swimming, Chase Field

 The Arizona Diamondbacks' beautiful home stadium houses perhaps the most famous ballpark diversion, a swimming pool just beyond the outfield fence. Don't show up in your swimsuit for just any old Snakes home game, though; according to the team's site, the Riviera Pools Pavilion can be rented to you and 34 friends for a meager $6,500 per game. Of course, that comes with a $750 voucher for food and beverage, so really, it's only $5,750 per game. At that price, you can't afford not to rent it out. 

4. Pet Checking, U.S. Cellular Field

 Nothing's worse than walking through a stadium security check only to find that you've left your pet cat in your purse or backpack. At most ballparks, your day would be ruined since you'd either have to take Mr. Whiskers home or turn him free to fend for himself in the wild. Luckily, the management of the Chicago White Sox has a solution: fans can check their pets for a "minimal fee" which supports non-profit organizations that train service animals. No word on whether or not the team might start a particularly frisky dog at second base this season, although this pet-check is certainly a promising first step towards making the Air Bud series a reality. 

5. Being Terrified, Ripken Stadium

 For most of the year, Aberdeen, Maryland's Aberdeen IronBirds play minor-league hardball in this stadium. In October, though, it turns into the 13th Inning, a haunted house so horrifying that the shaky play of Class-A baseball doesn't seem so scary after all. Don't take my word for it, though; here's the official website's description: "The 13th Inning haunt has you reliving baseball's horrid past as you brave the bloody clubhouse of Manager Justin Bobby, Aberdeen's notorious skipper who stumbled upon a demonic asylum of cannibalistic spirits, demons long buried, who've consumed his players' souls." Whether or not it chills your blood, it's definitely a conceptual nightmare.

6. Sliding Out of a Beverage Bottle, AT&T Park

 The home of baseball's San Francisco Giants boasts many unique elements, from the brick wall in right field to long home runs splashing down in the water of McCovey Cove. It also has a gigantic Coca-Cola bottle behind the left-field bleachers that doubles as the housing for four playground slides. And next to the bottle is an enormous sculpture of a baseball glove that doubles as"¦an enormous sculpture of a baseball glove. The Giants claim it's the world's largest baseball glove, though, so if you're into viewing record-setting sporting equipment, it should be good for at least 90 seconds of entertainment.

7. Getting Sand in Your Shoes, BB&T Coastal Field

 The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Class-A Carolina league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, have an interesting private-party seating gimmick: The Beach. According to the team's website, the sand-filled Beach is stocked with folding lawn chairs and a great view down the third-base line, just like the beach. Except there's no ocean, but it's still perfect for fans whose favorite part of going to the beach is hosing the sand off of their feet. Even better, the section has a private bar and is next to the visitors' bullpen. Life as a minor-league relief pitcher must be tough; it's difficult to imagine that drunken opposing fans with handfuls of sand next to the bullpen would make things much easier.

8. Posing for Questionable Photo Ops, University of Phoenix Stadium

 This year's home for the Super Bowl gets to house the NFL Experience, a football theme park that pops up for entertainment before and during the big game. The attractions are mostly historical or involve running through simulated NFL drills, but in one case the activity involves posing as member of the very bad local football team. As the event's site advertises/warns: "Arizona Cardinals Home Team Photo - Step into a life-sized photo of the Arizona Cardinals and have a friend snap your photograph." Sure, the Cardinals may be perennial losers, but that just means you can show the picture to friends and say, "Oh, yeah, I totally played on their offensive line a year or two ago"¦" and have it sound remotely plausible.

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Ethan Trex grew up idolizing Vince Coleman, and he kind of still does. Ethan co-writes Straight Cash, Homey, the Internet's undisputed top source for pictures of people in Ryan Leaf jerseys. His last mental_floss contribution was a quiz on Sibling Underlings.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Fast Facts About Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Robert Riger/Getty Images

Wilma Rudolph made history as a Black female athlete at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. The 20-year-old Tennessee State University sprinter was the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Olympics. Rudolph’s heroics in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4 x 100-meter events only lasted seconds, but her legend persists decades later, despite her untimely 1994 death from cancer at age 54. Here are some facts about this U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member.

1. Wilma Rudolph faced poverty and polio as a child.

When Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940, in Clarksville, Tennessee, she weighed just 4.5 pounds. Olympic dreams seemed impossible for Rudolph, whose impoverished family included 21 other siblings. Among other maladies, she had measles, mumps, and pneumonia by age 4. Most devastatingly, polio twisted her left leg, and she wore leg braces until she was 9.

2. Wilma Rudolph originally wanted to play basketball.

The Tennessee Tigerbelles. From left to right: Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, Wilma Rudolph, and Barbara Jones.Central Press/Getty Images

At Clarksville’s Burt High School, Rudolph flourished on the basketball court. Nearly 6 feet tall, she studied the game, and ran track to keep in shape. However, while competing in the state basketball championship in Nashville, the 14-year-old speedster met a referee named Ed Temple, who doubled as the acclaimed coach of the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track team. Temple, who would coach at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, recruited Rudolph.

3. Wilma Rudolph made her Olympic debut as a teenager.

Rudolph hit the limelight at 16, earning a bronze medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. But that didn’t compare to the media hype when she won three gold medals in 1960. French journalists called her “The Black Pearl,” the Italian press hailed “The Black Gazelle,” and in America, Rudolph was “The Tornado.”

4. After her gold medals, Wilma Rudolph insisted on a racially integrated homecoming.

Tennessee governor Buford Ellington, who supported racial segregation, intended to oversee the Clarksville celebrations when Rudolph returned from Rome. However, she refused to attend her parade or victory banquet unless both were open to Black and white people. Rudolph got her wish, resulting in the first integrated events in the city’s history.

5. Muhammad Ali had a crush on Wilma Rudolph.

Ali—known as Cassius Clay when he won the 1960 Olympic light heavyweight boxing title—befriended Rudolph in Rome. That fall, the 18-year-old boxer invited Rudolph to his native Louisville, Kentucky. He drove her around in a pink Cadillac convertible.

6. John F. Kennedy literally fell over when he invited Wilma Rudolph to the White House.

President Kennedy, Wilma Rudolph, Rudolph’s mother Blanche Rudolph, and Vice President Johnson in the Oval Office.Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum // Public Domain

In 1961, Rudolph met JFK in the Oval Office. After getting some photos taken together, the President attempted to sit down in his rocking chair and tumbled to the floor. Kennedy quipped: “It’s not every day that I get to meet an Olympic champion.” They chatted for about 30 minutes.

7. Wilma Rudolph held three world records when she retired.

Rudolph chose to go out on top and retired in 1962 at just 22 years old. Her 100-meter (11.2 seconds), 200-meter (22.9 seconds), and 4 x 100-meter relay (44.3 seconds) world records all lasted several years.

8. Wilma Rudolph visited West African countries as a goodwill ambassador.

The U.S. State Department sent Rudolph to the 1963 Friendship Games in Dakar, Senegal. According to Penn State professor Amira Rose Davis, while there, Rudolph independently met with future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers, a nationalist youth movement. She visited Mali, Guinea, and the Republic of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as well.

9. Denzel Washington made his TV debut in a movie about Wilma Rudolph.

Before his Oscar-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001), a 22-year-old Denzel Washington portrayed Robert Eldridge, Rudolph’s second husband, in Wilma (1977). The film also starred Cicely Tyson as Rudolph’s mother Blanche.

10. Schools, stamps, and statues commemorate Wilma Rudolph’s legacy.

Berlin, Germany, has a high school named after Rudolph. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp celebrating her in 2004. Clarksville features a bronze statue by the Cumberland River, the 1000-capacity Wilma Rudolph Event Center, and Wilma Rudolph Boulevard. In Tennessee, June 23 is Wilma Rudolph Day.