I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Batter up for baseball's opening night in Melbourne
Ahh, summer. It's on its way. And what does summer signify in the sporting world? Baseball. Yep, that's right folks—baseball. The Australian Baseball League's 2015/16 season commences in late October, and Melbourne's very own baseball team, the Melbourne Aces, are gearing up for a cracker of a season. And it all kicks off on opening night at the Melbourne Ballpark in Altona on Friday 23rd October 2015.
The Aces go head-to-head with the Sydney Blue Sox, with the first pitch thrown at 7.35pm. It'll be a full weekend of baseball for the Aces and Blue Sox, with games also being played on Saturday and Sunday.
Opening night in baseball is a big deal, and opening night at the Melbourne Ballpark will be no exception. Full details of the festivities are still under wraps, but I have a sneaking suspicion there will be fireworks involved—you can't have an opening night in baseball without fireworks. But it doesn't even need to be opening night for fireworks, and a little birdie has told me that there will be fireworks for every Friday night game the Melbourne Aces play at the Melbourne Ballpark. Nothing like a night sky with bursts of colour to kick a weekend of baseball off with a bang.
And nothing says baseball like ballpark food. And I'm not talking limp hotdogs that have been sitting in questionable boiled water for hours, or soggy, gristly, been-there, done-that meat pies. I'm talking real deal, stars-and-stripes American ballpark food that wouldn't be out of place at Fenway Park in Boston or Yankee Stadium in New York. The team at Melbourne Aces have been working hard behind the scenes this year to bring you the best ballpark food going 'round, and whilst some details are still being finalised for the season ahead, the best has already been signed, sealed, and ready for an opening night delivery. Seven Fires BBQ have partnered with the Melbourne Aces for the entire season, and will be offering true American-style barbecue at every Aces home game, including pulled pork rolls and beef brisket. The Aces folk are also hoping to have wood-fired pizzas and traditional grilled American ballpark hot dogs on offer—complete with mustard and ketchup and pickles—to really cap off your baseball experience and will no doubt keep you coming back for more.
The Melbourne Aces are making history this season as the first ever team in the Australian Baseball League to be lead by an active Major League Baseball coach. Joe Vavra, bench coach for the Minnesota Twins, has signed on as manager of the Melbourne Aces for the 2015/16 season. Vavra has 16 years experience with the MLB, and the Twins are keen supporters of baseball in Australia, and in Melbourne—15 percent of the 324 Australians signed to a major league team in the US since 1987 have joined the Twins organisation.
Image from web.theabl.com.au/news/index.jsp?sid=t4067. Used with permission by the Melbourne Aces.
With a new manager, the Aces are in for their biggest year yet, and opening night is the perfect opportunity to see them in action. Tickets start at just $12 for general admission, with tickets near homeplate at $17, $35 for a 3rd Base Dugout Suite, and only $50 for a Premium Box. These are all pre-sale prices though, so be quick and get in early to secure your seats at these cheaper-than-cheap prices. (Which of course leaves you more cash to spend on the aforementioned ballpark staples of pulled pork rolls and beef brisket. And let me tell you, after living in America for two years—and becoming quite obsessed with American baseball, American food, and well, America in general, really—there's nothing better than sitting back and watching a ballgame whilst chowing down on a pulled pork roll with tangy 'slaw and smoky barbecue sauce dripping over your hands.)
The Melbourne Ballpark is easy as pie to get to (think I still have food on the brain), and there are no hassles with parking. Just off the Princes Highway in Altona at the Victorian Baseball and Softball Centre in Merton Street, the venue seats 2400 people, with room for 1500 more Aces fans down along the baselines. This year, there will be a 'Family Zone' near the first baseline, and the beer garden will be down on the third base side. The ballpark is perfect for functions too, with corporate boxes available, as well as discounts on premium seats, food vouchers and merchandise available for group bookings of 10 or more people. And if that's not enough to cure your baseball cravings, you can sign up for a Melbourne Aces membership from only $200 per adult, which gives you a general admission ticket to every Aces home game.
Baseball is touted as America's favourite pastime, and for good reason. A relaxing summer's evening or a lazy Sunday afternoon, kicking back at the ballpark with the kids or a bunch of mates and perhaps a cold beer, watching the innings tick on by—nothing better. And opening night for the Aces will surely get you in the baseball mood for the upcoming season, and it might even become one of your favourite pastimes too. Because as you sit back and relax and bite into your gourmet grilled hotdog or pulled pork roll, listening to the sounds of the ball cracking against the bat, and watching the dirt fly up as the players slide into base, life couldn't be sweeter.