Baseball Can Still be Fun

Baseball Can Still be Fun

Baseball Can Still be Fun blog post by Ken Walker Writer. Pictured: Marshall University sign.Despite rather chilly (50 degrees) temperatures suited more to football, on Mar. 1 Marshall University christened its new baseball stadium. The long-awaited development brought an end to 50 years of broken promises.

As local newspaper columnist Chuck Landon wrote later, “I never thought it would be built. Never ever. Not going to happen. No chance. No way. No how.”

That’s what happens when plans get announced time and again, only to be scuttled. After higher-than-expected bids coupled with the 2020 pandemic brought once-promising progress to a screeching halt, fears of another monkey wrench getting tossed into the works were reawakened.

But, thanks to $13.8 million of largesse from Gov. (and now U.S. Senate candidate) Jim Justice in September of 2022, the last link in the chain fell into place.

Eye-Popping Prices

About 10 days before the first pitch, a certified Cincinnati Reds fan and all-things-baseball fanatic told me tickets for Marshall baseball were running $60 to $110. After I put my eyes back in their sockets, I went online to the university’s athletics site to check it out for myself.

Turns out he was telling the truth, but not quite the whole truth. That wasn’t the cover price, but the aftermarket, ticket suppliers’ (we used to call them scalpers) price.

I guess it doesn’t matter who’s the seller, when the cost of a baseball game goes that high, I’m likely to sit things out.

It wasn’t just that the home opener was sold out, something to be expected for the first game of a sparkling 3,500-seat ballpark. It’s that the whole season was too.

The only chance for admission to the first game were $20 tickets for standing-room-only.

“I wouldn’t go and stand the whole game if it were free,” I told a friend who attended the game. Afterwards, he corrected me on the final price, which was $25 because of a “ticket fee” (and at this point, I pause to say that I support President Joe Biden’s push against junk fees in American life).

Cooling Off

Pictured: Baseball in a glove.The week after the opener, that friend went to another game and told me SRO admission had dropped by half. When I checked the university’s athletic department site that week, the sky-high aftermarket prices had also cooled down.

While I didn’t have time to run down the reasons for the slump, I suspect that trying to assess Taylor Swift-type admission prices on small-town baseball games didn’t go over too well with the paying public.

Pricing tickets for any entertainment or sports outing is a tricky thing in these days of lingering inflation and the sense that the cost of too many things has spiraled out of control. Seeing a game or a concert or having dinner out are all expendable when money gets tight, like it has for me in 2024.

Still, I’m hoping to take in a game this summer when Marshall’s stadium hosts games for the new Appalachian League team, the Tri-State Coal Cats. Not only will the tickets reportedly be cheaper, but you have to love local baseball aficionados embracing the coal image when everyone else is running away from it.

That’s one reason I find the minor leagues such fun. In a sports world awash in money and celebrity, the folks overseeing this brand of baseball have retained their sense of humor. Play ball!

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