"Where go moose?" my 1-year-old asked me at our final Mariners game of the season last year. As the long days faded into fall over Labor Day weekend, my husband and I watched the hapless M’s bats struggle, but all Jordana cared about was where that big, fluffy mascot had wandered off to.
Baseball season is back, and T-Mobile Park continues to find ways to help kids and adults best spend their time at the ballpark. The Mariners Kids Club, Children’s Hospital Playfield, Moose Den, and Kids Corner play area help kids find their own ways to enjoy going to the ballgame.
“Baseball connects across generations,” says Mariners Director of Public Information Rebecca Hale about why the team works so hard to make the game and team accessible to fans of all ages. “People who learned to keep score at the Kingdome can now teach their kids how to do it.”
Wallingford’s Ragsdale family has been taking their kids to Mariners games for nearly seven years; the kids grew up going to four or five games a year. They like sitting in the bleachers, where there’s a chance to catch a home-run ball. Once, in some choice seats behind home plate, a foul ball was lined toward her daughter, Caitlin. An avid fan with a glove reached out and caught the ball, practically landing in her daughter’s lap. He gave the ball to Caitlin, likely having saved her from being struck.
”He actually became a friend of ours. It was a cosmic force that brought our families together,” says Sallie Ragsdale. “I had no idea balls could come back there.” The Mariners extended the protective netting for fan safety in 2016 and again this year.
But for the most part, baseball’s slow pace allows families and friends to connect and visit with each other, rather than keeping their focus on the field at all times. The natural breaks in the game provide an opportunity to check out T-Mobile's kid-friendly areas, starting with a visit to the Moose Den in Section 191. For kids like my daughter, the most important part of the game is from 90 to 30 minutes before the game and during the third, fourth, seventh and eighth innings, when everybody’s favorite mascot will happily pose with little ones. Get more photo ops in the Kids Corner on the 300 level behind home plate, where smaller M’s fans can lean over the kid-sized dugout rail, as well as take swings, throw pitches, and run the bases on a miniature baseball diamond.
Every family has their own traditions: Carrie Whitney and Rich Hall of Tacoma just got their infant son a certificate commemorating his first baseball game. Ragsdale's son, a ballplayer, loves to go to the bullpen and watch the relievers warming up. They even hit the gift shop. “I am a logo junkie,” says Ragsdale, who loves the old-school logo, with an upside-down trident as an M.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
Kids don’t have to stay seated: Mason tries out the slide at the Children’s Hospital Playspace.
“We know that kids can’t sit still for an entire game,” says Hale, “so we make sure to have areas where they can blow off energy and give parents a break.” For younger kids, the climbing structure and padded floor of the Children’s Hospital Playspace presents a more age-appropriate, if less baseball-centric, stadium fun zone.
“It’s a long game for kids," says Ragsdale. "We have completely given up the 7:10 pm game, unless it’s a fireworks night.” They often get food to break up time in their seats a bit — her daughter loves Dippin’ Dots. And this year, along with the usual Cracker Jacks and garlic fries, kids can load up at the On Deck donut bar, complete with toppings and dipping sauces.
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