How Long Before First Pitch Do You Go into the Ballpark?

For the first time since 2019, just like almost everyone else in the country, I’m going to a baseball game this week. My girlfriend and I got tickets to the Reds-Braves game at Great American Ballpark Thursday night, and I am really looking forward to it. I’m not a fan of either team, but it’s a sporting event and I only went to one of them during the pandemic (Bengals game in December against the Cowboys), so seeing a sport played in-person is welcomed. I’m also hoping to see a pitcher temper tantrum when they get randomly checked for sticky substances. Maybe one will drop their pants?

A couple of days ago, the two of us discussed what time we would go down to the Banks and where we could grab dinner and a few drinks before going into the stadium. The conversation also included a game in August I bought tickets for that day, as my parents and a few others are coming in from Pittsburgh when the Reds play the Pirates. I mentioned to my girlfriend about what the plan was for that day before the game and included when we’d go into the ballpark before first pitch that night.

Long story short, my girlfriend is that person that shows up right as the game starts and I’m insane for going through the gate any earlier than that.

I did throw out to her that there are different scenarios that determine when you go into the stadium.

There is the one I have this August: The Visiting Friends and/or Family…

These people have likely never been to the city they are visiting you in, so you want to be a decent tour guide. For me, taking the knowledge I have of that place after living there for some time, while bullshitting part of the way through. This scenario, you go in 30 to 45 minutes before the first pitch so they can see the ballpark, walk around and see everything. My dad and I did the same thing at RFK Stadium when the Washington Nationals were there. It was a dump, but we had never been there. My dad probably watched the Washington Football Team on T.V. when they were winning Super Bowls there in the 1980s. We did the same thing at Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Camden Yards and other ballparks we visited in years past.

The Get-Together with Local Friends

Oh, how I’ve missed this over the past year!

This is the group that you hit the bars with before the game. The Banks in Cincinnati, the area where Great American Ballpark sits, has several bars and restaurants and recently, a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or D.O.R.A., was set up to help those places as we comes out of the pandemic. You drink the gameday discount pounders at those establishments because a pounder is near or more than $10 at the stadium these days.

You roll into the ballpark about 10-15 minutes before the game. This allows buzzed you to figure out which way your section is, stop in the bathroom, get that marked-up beer and slide into your seat as the mangers exchange lineup cards.

The Solo Trip to the Ballpark

If you haven’t done this, do it at least once in your life.

Get a ticket and go to a baseball game by yourself. You make your own schedule, you decide when you go into the stadium and can check out different sight-lines from different parts of the park. I could easily go to hockey games by myself each and every time, but baseball is slow and you need that person to chat with. That’s why this is a one-time experience.

The Full Experience

I’ve never really fallen into this category, but there are those who go in right as the gates open, take in batting practice, attempt to catch a few home runs and truly enjoy the full price of the ticket. For ballparks not located around an entertainment district, this make a lot of sense.

I do remember years ago going to Camden Yards early and witnessed the large number of people in the right field seats and concourse where the warehouse is, watching Vladimir Guerrero just destroy balls during warmups.

The “So What Time Does it Actually Start?” Game

(See the second paragraph of this blog post)

How many minutes until first pitch do you go into a baseball stadium?

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