by Jeff Jaynes
Have you had one of those days where you’re trying to find a fun family activity and it seems like you just strike out? You’ve been to the Zoo. The budget is too stretched for the Aquarium or the Air and Space Museum. It’s too early to visit the splash pads.
Maybe it’s time to take a trip downtown to check out the Tulsa Drillers! For our family, that’s a big time home run! Here are 7 reasons why we love going to the amazing OneOK Field for a game:
It’s a GREAT deal.
Until the Gathering Place opens, there aren’t many cheaper places to take the whole family for an event. There are a lot of great places to go in Tulsa, but most of them take a big bite out of the budget for a family. You can get into any Drillers game for $5 or $6, and sometimes the ticket is only $2! Yep. You can entertain the whole family for less than the cost of one movie ticket. And, unlike the theater, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on food either. On Sundays kids eat free and there’s a great kid’s meal on the other days that won’t empty your wallet. The adults don’t have to shell out lots of cash for peanuts either. (One tip from a frequent visitor: you can replace the hot dog and bun at the “Franx” concession with a baked potato… for the same $6 price. The taco salad at $8 is pretty filling too… and yummy!
Reconnect with America’s Pastime
I’ll admit that I’m a baseball fan. I love the game and grew up a big fan. But I gave it up for a while. In the wake of player strikes, steroids, and general greed, I tuned out America’s pastime for a long time. It just seemed fake and lost some of its luster. That all changed for me a few years ago, and the Drillers helped bring me back.
The Drillers play in the Texas League which is Double A—two steps below the Majors. Because of where they are professionally, you get more highs and lows than the average major league game. Sometimes you’ll see a play that just wows you and the next play might bring a face palm. While some of the players might have had a big signing bonus to start their career, they’re not yet making the huge salaries in the majors. That said, that’s their dream—and it’s fun to see them working to get there. It’s baseball at a more pure level and just makes you feel connected to baseball fans through the centuries. There’s just something special about time at the ballpark.
There’s something for the whole family.
I know not everyone is a big baseball fan, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the Drillers—especially with kids. There’s so much fun for the kids. Hornsby—the Driller’s mascot—makes kids of all ages smile, going from section to section. There are the usual minor league contests in between innings and even an appliance race between an inflatable furnace, air conditioner, and a toilet—yep, a toilet. There’s a playground, a splash pad, and even an inflatable area almost as good as the one at First UMC. There is also usually lots of room to run around and play safely in the grassy areas of the outfield.
And it’s not just for the kids. Foodies can always find a good bite around the ballpark. People watchers can have a field day at the antics around them. And, if you go with friends, breaks in the action are a great way to catch up and just hang out.
Spot a celebrity (or at least a future celebrity)!
Everyone loves seeing a celebrity, right? The Drillers give a great chance to see a real life star (or at least a future star)! First of all, since the Drillers have become a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, famous baseball stars of the past are often at the games. Secondly, there have been a lot of Drillers who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues—including in the past several years. Corey Seager who won the rookie of the year competition in the National League for the Dodgers last year (and was in the running for MVP) played for Tulsa just two years ago. And this year Cody Bellinger has been lighting up the Majors in his first several games—after playing in Tulsa just last year. The Drillers can even boast a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame now, as Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was inducted last year (I got to watch him when I was a kid in Tulsa!). There aren’t many other places around town that can promise that proximity to the big time!
Catch a show (and maybe a ball too!)
When the Drillers are in town over a weekend, you can also catch a great fireworks show—and not just on the Fourth of July! These games are often packed with families—so make sure to get tickets early—because they really put on a good show. If you sit on the 3rd base line, you get the fireworks with the skyline of Tulsa as a backdrop. Get your cameras ready at the beginning as it’s a great shot!
Speaking of great shows, make sure to watch the baseball before the fireworks too. First of all, you just might see a fantastic play. Secondly, it’s important to watch for baseballs as they can come in the stands. The Drillers have done a great job of putting up almost invisible nets for safety, but it’s still a good idea to watch. For one thing, it might help you catch a ball from the game!
Root root root for the home team
The Drillers are our team. If you’re not sure what to cheer, just yell, “Let’s go, Tulsa!” And sometimes we need cheering on, right? There are people from all over town at the Drillers games—north, south, east, and west. There are little league teams, church groups, business outings, and more. Go cheer on our town, our people, our neighbors. When you go to the ballpark you are helping boost the local economy—even the concessions are usually run by band boosters or other community groups raising money.
Speaking of the local economy, OneOK field has been a big boost for downtown Tulsa. If you don’t spend much time downtown, come down and stay awhile. The ballpark area is really booming. If you don’t want to eat the great food at the ballpark, grab dinner at one of the great restaurants around before the game.
Remember and reflect
Lastly, when you’re at the ballpark, take time to remember and reflect about the last time this part of Tulsa was booming. OneOK Field sits in the heart of the Greenwood District which was once Black Wall Street. Just beyond left field at Greenwood and Archer once stood dozens of businesses, offices of doctors and lawyers, hotels, and more—all owned by African-Americans. Go early and look down—check out the plaques on the sidewalks that are there to remember. And be sure to go to John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park too. There you can remember what happened to those businesses—the terrible events of 1921 that killed so many and devastated our community. Walk the labyrinth of the park and finish with the hope for a brighter tomorrow… a tomorrow that can be as bright as the lights at OneOK Field.
When he’s not watching baseball or coaching his son’s team, Rev. Jeff Jaynes is the Executive Director at Restore Hope Ministries, a United Methodist outreach to families in need. He has two boys obsessed with baseball (thanks to the Drillers!) and an amazing wife who, while not a huge baseball fan, enjoys a day at the ballpark.