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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Try a baseball game!

As well as visiting the many theme attractions Central Florida has to offer we decided we’d like to watch a baseball game – a traditional American game.

We found out that the Tampa Rays played at Tropicana Field, St Petersburg and that they were playing the New York Yankees whilst we were in Florida. Their website gave lots of information and through it you could purchase tickets from the UK, using a UK credit card. It’s very simple to do but you are only given a few seconds to confirm the seats it gives you – being new to the stadium layout this process took us a little longer and several attempts!! The website gave the information that there would be three games with the New York Yankees. We chose the last night – mainly because it suited our schedule.

We had no idea of the rules so a friend of ours from New Jersey very kindly sent us some basic rules. We left Orlando and soon reached Tampa and took the causeway across to St Petersburg. Halfway across, one of Florida’s short but heavy afternoon storms came down. “Oh no!” we thought. “After booking the tickets in the UK, reading up on the rules, building our two daughters (aged 9 and 12) up to be excited, it would be rained off!!” (We’ve had this experience at Wimbledon!). Thankfully by the time we reached Tropicana Field the beautiful Floridian sunshine was back and the temperature was 15 degrees warmer.

However, first lesson! We needn’t have worried - the game is indoors!! Collecting the tickets was easy and straightforward. The lady who served us thought half of England had been to the matches with the Yankees as she’d served so many. It was very different to what we expected. You go inside the building, ushered by several helpful people, and then go up in a lift to the appropriate floor. When you come out the lift, is like walking into a fifties style office building. You walk around the corridor then go down some steps and enter the stadium – and yes, this is where we saw it had a roof!

There are plenty of places to purchase different types of food and drink, including alcohol. We bought ours before the game but spectators come and go and spend time socialising with friends.

The atmosphere is very family orientated and friendly. We sat amongst both Tampa Ray fans and New York Yankee fans. The Rays and Yankees had already played two games the two nights before. The first was won by the Yankees and the second won by The Rays so tonight was the decider. Owning a home in Florida, we’d decided to support The Rays. There is so much more spectator participation being there rather than watching on TV. Obviously you, rather than the TV cameraman/director, decide who you want to watch. During the many TV commercial breaks there are things to watch on the large screen or they play music or chants to join in with. The Ray fans sitting next to our daughter’s helped us understand the game and they were amazed at our girls clapping, shouting and joining in with everything that was going on but the atmosphere was so good it was hard not to!

For those interested here are the basic rules:

  1. There are 9 innings ( 8 1/2 minimum)
  2. Each inning consists of each team being "at bat" and the other in the field.
  3. Each team at bat is given 3 "outs". When the 3rd out is achieved, the teams switch.
  4. Each batter is given 3 strikes and 4 balls. A strike is either a foul ball (for the first and second strike) or a pitch that is swung at and missed or a pitch that gets by the batter without swinging that the umpire deems hittable and in the "strike zone," and area usually above the knees and below the waist. If the batter gets 3 strikes, he's out and the next batter comes to the plate. If the pitcher throws 4 "balls", which are out of the strike zone and the batter doesn't swing at them, he goes to first on a "walk". Obviously, the pitcher doesn't want the batter to "walk" or get a hit.
  5. The highest score at the end of 9 innings wins. If it is tied, more innings are played until one team has a higher score at the completion of that inning, or in the case of the "home team", they won't play the bottom half if they're winning.
  6. The first half of an inning is called the "top" and the second half the "bottom", so when the game first starts it is the "top of the first".
  7. The home team always bats in the "bottom of the innings" always assuring that they will bat last at the end of the game. If they have the lead after the top of the 9th inning, they will not play the bottom of the 9th, as they have already won, and the game is over.
  8. A "run" is scored when anyone touches home plate after rounding all three bases. Home plate is where the batters stand when batting. First, Second, and Third base are the ones in the field. First is to the right of Home Plate when viewing from the stands behind home plate.

We were warned as the game started to watch for "foul" or out of bounds balls. If these come towards you, you could get severely injured by not paying attention at all times – so there’s no excuse for not watching the game at all times! The spectators are allowed to keep these balls if they catch one and many spectators take their catching gloves to gain one of these balls. Some serious spectators keep records of the score and who does what.

The first run was scored by the Yankees, the The Rays got two, then the Yankees got 3! The Yankees were ahead! Eek! Then the Yankees got one but The Rays got two….until at the 8th innings The Rays had 7 and the Yankees had 6. The Yankees went in to bat …. And didn’t score. The Rays didn’t need to bat – they had won!

We appreciate the skills of the players much more now we’ve seen a game. One batter hit the ball so hard his bat split completely in half. Although the pitch was smaller than we expected (probably thought it would be large like a cricket pitch), the ball was nearly always caught – they are excellent catchers and make it look so easy.

We thoroughly enjoyed the evening – probably helped by our team winning – but also by the atmosphere. We will definitely be going again during our next summer visit. If you and your family enjoy sport you may enjoy it too.

Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
Other articles by this author: click here

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Page added on: 11 September 2005
Viewed 4250 times since 1 September 2008.

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