What makes something a “date night”?
For parents, it’s no kids. But if you’re a kid-less couple like Alex and I, by that definition, every night is date night. And while I love eating Jack’s pizza and watching Netflix at home, that kind of evening definitely doesn’t count. (Let’s be real: that’s just every night.)
Whether you consider date night getting dressed up, not having to cook, or doing something out of the ordinary, I think everyone would agree with this: date night should be fun.
Usually I don’t think baseball is very fun. Nine innings of ball, ball, strike, foul, ball, ball, foul, ball, strike, GOOD GRIEF WHEN IS THIS GOING TO BE OVER? often feels more like an obligation than a date night. Like how most guys don’t enjoy weddings. The romance of a wedding sends most girls into a starry-eyed trance. Guys just want cake. And to take that darned tie off.
But last week Alex and I went to a baseball game, and something magical happened.
Alex wasn’t the only one who enjoyed himself.
I had fun, too!
It’s all about the surprises
It all began before we even set foot in the ballpark. As we’re waiting to cross the street with a bunch of other baseball fans in front of CHS Field, suddenly, Captain America joins us. With his red and blue shield, he’s unmistakable.
As we enter the ballpark, Captain America finds Wonder Woman. A miniature Spiderman runs by. There are capes everywhere.
Is this a casting call for the next Marvel movie? Nope, it’s superhero night at the St. Paul Saints game.
Saints games are known for their lighthearted, family-friendly atmosphere. If you’re a Minnesotan, like me, you probably have fond memories watching the Saints play at the old Midway Stadium, CHS Field’s beloved predecessor. (Well, honestly, I don’t remember anything about the games themselves, but I remember the random surprises, like the nun that gave back massages. And the silly entertainment between innings.)
Midway Stadium is no more, but the new CHS Field is still full of surprises. Like any baseball game, there’s loud music (coming out of Electro-Voice speakers, which eagle-eyed Alex spots immediately, since his company sells them). There are cheerful organ ditties in between plays. There’s the notorious kiss cam. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill baseball game. There’s a constant sense of excitement. What will happen next?
Some of the highlights from the evening:
- Four men dressed as women, wearing pink dresses and flamboyant wigs, run out to sweep the sand between innings.
- The team’s mascot is a real live pig, named “Alternative Fats” by the fans, who makes regular appearances on the field.
- Two inflatable cows sumo wrestle by home plate.
- Sister Rosalind Gefre is still giving massages! Bless her!
At one point, an usher starts tossing Nut Rolls into the crowd. In a half a second, I’m jumping up and down and hollering like the rest of the kids in our section.
There’s a buzz of fun and happiness in this ballpark that even the most curmudgeonly onlookers can’t help but catch.
It’s all about the food
Normally Alex has the discipline of a Spartan soldier around concessions stands. Bavarian pretzels? Mini donuts? Nothing can tempt him.
But tonight, we’re getting dinner.
We do three laps around the ballpark to survey our options, and boy, are there plenty. I’m trying to decide between the donut dog or Philly cheesesteak when we come across the beer cheese burger. We drop everything and get two, with fries to split. I’ve eaten lackluster stadium burgers, but this one doesn’t disappoint: juicy patty, soft, fresh bun, and plenty of beer cheese on top. It’s gone in minutes.
The weather is chilly for August – 56 degrees and drizzly – so later we splurge and split a slice of fried apple pie, hot out of the oven.
The apple pie warms me up from the inside. It takes date night to a whole new level. I even start to watch the game with mild interest.
It’s not all about baseball
Maybe what’s most impressive about this baseball game is that it doesn’t feel like it’s all about baseball. And that’s by design, I find out. Talking with some employees who work for the Saint’s organization Fun is Good, I learn that every aspect of the game is lovingly crafted with the fan experience in mind. The Saints don’t mind if you leave not knowing who won. They just want you to have fun.
And clearly, it’s working. We’re at a cold, wet game, but everyone seems to be having a great time… Alex and myself included. It’s the perfect ratio of baseball to not-baseball.
The Saints end up losing (don’t ask me by how much), but I leave feeling like a winner. I enjoyed a night in a beautiful urban venue, I didn’t have to cook, and I had fun with my husband.
Oh, and truth-be-told, I was so distracted by the fun of CHS Field, I didn’t even really watch the game.
Could you ask for a better date night?
Thank you to both the St. Paul Saints and Fun is Good for generously giving us tickets to see the game. We had a great time, and we’ll be back!