On the 4th of July, going to a baseball game is no longer just a fun outing; it’s your patriotic duty. America’s birthday is the perfect time to enjoy America’s pastime (along with a hot dog and, if it’s sold in your stadium, apple pie). All 30 Major League teams are playing this Independence Day and many ballparks are planning big bashes that will celebrate America’s 238th birthday, honor the military and, in some parks, commemorate the 75th anniversary of baseball’s most heartbreaking moment.
Here’s our look at the ballparks (and one museum) where you’ll want to be on July 4.
(Photo: Adam Fagen/Flickr)
Washington Nationals: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
In our Nation’s Capital, the Nationals host the Chicago Cubs on July 4 which, appropriately, is one of the Nats’ 2014 “Patriotic Series” honoring America’s military members and first responders. Nats players will be decked out in their patriotic uniforms (complete with stars and stripes on their “W” team logo). And each fan who attends the game will get an American flag, which they’ll certainly put to good use at the bottom of the 3rd inning when the Nats host an In-Game Military Salute to America’s fighting forces.
They’re not just for home runs anymore; post-game fireworks are planned on July 4th at the home of the Chicago White Sox (Photo: Sean Brim/Flickr)
Chicago White Sox: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
Like many stadiums hosting evening ballgames, Cellular Field plans to cap off its matchup against the Seattle Mariners with a big fireworks display. And, like other teams hosting 4th of July games, the White Sox are taking the opportunity to thank servicemen and women. In addition to an in-game tribute, there’s also a pre-game ceremony with military members taking the field with the players. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Lieutenant Commander James Gennari, who received a Bronze Star for heroically removing a live grenade from a Marine’s leg in Afghanistan.
Lou Gehrig during his famous farewell speech on July 4, 1939 (Photo: Getty Images)
Minnesota Twins: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Twins’ July 4th game features something you don’t often see from a home team: a tribute to one of the most iconic members of the team they’re playing against. July 4 marks the 75th anniversary of New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig’s tear-inducing “luckiest man on the face of the earth” farewell speech. To commemorate that emotional moment, the Twins plan to feature a video with fans and players reciting the iconic speech. Plus, during the national anthem, both the Twins and the visiting Yankees will hit the field with patients suffering from the disease that would claim Gehrig’s life — and now unofficially bears his name — ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
Home of the Pirates (Photo: Daveynin/Flickr)
Pittsburgh Pirates: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, along with its in-state opponent the Philadelphia Phillies, also plans to honor Gehrig’s memory with their own “ALS Day” ceremony. Both teams will wear specially designed stars-and-stripes caps for July 4th.
The Baseball Hall of Fame will also honor 1941 inductee Lou Gehrig (Photo: Matthew Kraus/Flickr)
National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum: Cooperstown, New York
The Baseball Hall of Fame is hosting an all-day tribute to Gehrig, a 1941 inductee (the Museum is offering free admission to patients suffering from ALS and a caregiver. Arrangements must be made through the ALS Association’s Upstate New York Chapter). In addition, the museum’s Operation Gratitude drive lets fans write 4th of July letters to our soldiers and vets.
A’s fans can leave their hats at home July 4. $10 haircuts are available for fans, with proceeds going to help military families (Photo: Cyrus Farivar/Flickr)
Oakland Athletics: Oakland County Coliseum, Oakland, California
During the game against the Athletics’ across-the-bay rival, the San Francisco Giants, fans will get a chance to tip their caps to veterans. Fans can donate $10 to get a haircut, in the stadium, during the game. Proceeds benefit a group of military non-profits. There’ll also be fireworks and a Lou Gehrig commemoration.
“Meet me in St. Louis…” for a beautiful July 4 fireworks display (Photo: Kwong Yee Chen/Flickr)
St. Louis Cardinals: Busch Stadium, St. Louis Missouri
If you want to see fireworks in downtown St. Louis this July 4th, the Cards’ game against the Florida Marlins is the only game in town. With Fair St. Louis having moved its annual fireworks display to Forest Park, Busch Stadium is the only place to see the glorious sight of 4th of July fireworks going off against the background of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Every fan who shows up will also get a replica of the Cards’ 2004 National League Champions Ring.
The Mets will be honoring vets and first responders (Photo: Joe Lip/Flickr)
New York Mets: Citi Field, New York
The Mets and the Texas Rangers will honor the military and first responders at their matchup in Queens.
Turner Field is planning a major patriotic display on July 4 (Photo: Wally Gobetez/Flickr)
Atlanta Braves: Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
The Braves call their post-game July 4th All-American Fireworks Spectacular “the best fireworks display in the southeast.” Judge for yourself after the Braves play the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 4th. Even before the fireworks go off, fans will be treated to a healthy dose of Americana. During the pre-game ceremony, Braves staff and their family members will carry a giant flag that covers the outfield as the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps performs the national anthem. The tribute caps with a flyover by a 4-ship of T-6 Texans out of Oklahoma’s Vance Air Force Base. During the sixth inning, the Braves will pay tribute to a local “Hometown Hero,” a WWII and Korean War Vet.
An appropriate place to spend July 4: Great American Ballpark (Photo: James Clear/Flickr)
Cincinnati Reds: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio
Is there a better place to be on Independence Day than a ballpark called “Great American?” The Reds (who’ll play the Milwaukee Brewers) are working with the local USO to make active-duty military personnel and vets a big part of their July 4th events, which include a pre-game ceremony welcoming home returning soldiers.