Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Geek Daddy Picks the Best Kids Clubs in Major League Baseball

Many parents enjoy America's past time with our children by taking them to the ballpark or watching games on television to cheer on our favorite baseball team.   Another fun way to catch a child's interest in becoming a fan of major league baseball is to enroll them in a team's "KIDS CLUB."   Of the 31 MLB teams, 27 have kids programs to encourage children to become fans of the team and develop an interest in the sport of baseball.  All of these KIDS CLUBS vary in the price of membership and the publications, programs, events, and swag provided to participants who enroll in the team's kids club.  I've taken a look at each of the current programs offered by MLB teams and have ranked my Top 5 below:

      1.  TORONTO BLUE JAYS – their Kids Club is priced decently, provides some nice team swag for its members to enjoy, and has nice events to ensure that its members receive some special treatment; providing a trifecta of benefits that gives the Blue Jays the #1 ranking this year.  For $19.99 children 3 – 12 can become part of the Junior Jays Club presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.  The Junior Jays’ membership kit comes with a Mascot Baseball, Oyo Blue Jays Mini Figurine, Blue Jays Adjustable Baseball Cap, ACE the Mascot Themed Stationary Set, a Voucher Coupon Book with various discount opportunities, Newsletter Subscription, and a 2013 Membership Card.  Members are also invited to 3 super exclusive kid events:  a private autograph session with Blue Jays players in May; a special free t-shirt giveaway day in July; and a season wrap-up party in September hosted by the Blue Jays’ mascot ACE featuring inflatables and other fun activities.

2.  CINCINNATI REDS -  for a $25 membership the Reds have the best swag of any MLB club.  The team calls their children’s program the RED HEADS and kids receive an exclusive members-only cap, team replica jersey, and catchers backpack.  The Red Heads membership kit also comes with a 2013 membership card, a lanyard to display so they can proudly display the card at the ballpark, and a pennant your child can display at home on their bedroom wall.  They also host exclusive autograph sessions throughout the season for the kids who have joined the Red Heads (but while the kids are free to attend their guardians who accompany them to these events are charged a $5 entry fee which knocked the team down to #2 in the Geek Daddy’s ratings).  A nice feature of this kids club is that each member is provided vouchers to attend 4 games for free (of course the adult taking the kids to the game still has to buy a ticket but hey if you are planning a family trip to the ballpark this is a nice savings to take advantage of).

       3.  ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – Most of the MLB teams focus their kids clubs towards children 3 – 13 and so does St. Louis, but they also have created a special unique program for teen fans as well called the VARSITY CLUB which gives them the #3 spot in this review.  The Varsity Club is for teens 14 – 19 and costs $35 to join.  Each member gets an official Cardinals cap and backpack plus two tickets to Varsity Club Day at the Ballpark on August 14th when the Cards take on the Pirates at Busch Stadium.  There will be lots of special exclusive events for members during their special day at the ballpark.

1    4. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS – earned this spot because their program stands out for being FREE!  You don’t get swag sent to you in the mail, but if you sign up for the program and buy tickets to go to the games your children can pickup free stuff determined by how many games they’ve attended during the season.  Going to 1 game gets your child a game schedule poster, 2 games a free upper level ticket to attend another game,  4 games a souvenir cup, 5 games a baseball bat key chain and so on ranging up to jelly-fish yoyo at 18 games.  Hey if you are going to take your family to the ball game anyways why not sign up for an extra benefit?!  The D-Backs also have another nice program called the No Chew Crew.  Children 15 and younger who sign a pledge to say NO to using spit tobacco receive a FREE toothbrush and a ticket to one of several designated games  sponsored by Delta Dental of Arizona.

1    5.  MIAMI MARLINS & PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES – we have a tie at the #5 spot for two teams that created kids club programs revolving around their mascots. 

Miami’s Billy the Marlin is the highlight of its kids club program.  Members receive an Official Billy’s Bunch Membership Card, Billy the Marlin poster, Billy Lunch Cooler, Billy’s Bunch T-shirt, and Billy’s Fanoculars, along with 2 free tickets to a 2013 Marlins game and a coupon for a free Kids Meal from Duffy’s Sports Grill.  If you live in the Miami area (Miami-Dade, Palm Beach or Broward) guess what parents – it gets better – enrolling your kids is FREE !!!!  A little bit of a return on your investment for your property taxes subsidizing the team’s new stadium I guess so take advantage of the program.

For $12 your child can become a member of the Phanatic MVP Club for Philly fans.  It’s membership kit includes a 2013 special edition PhanaticMVP Bobblehead, collectable magnet, full color Phanatic Poster, a birthday card sent to your child from the Phanatic, a Membership Card and e-mail newsletters.  Members also receive exclusive opportunities for autographed items, Phanatic birthday boxes, and invites to Phanatic Meet & Greets.


LOS ANGELES ANGELS – When I was a kid my parents taking us to a movie was a special treat that ended with a trip to a Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour.  Alas they are all gone here in Michigan but when I saw the Angels Kids Club was sponsored by Farrell’s all I could think of was  how SWEET that was and that I wanted to take a trip out to LA.   Members receive Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Gifts, an exclusive MIKE TROUT youth jersey, an official 2013 Jr. Angels Kids Club Membership Passport and 2 tickets to attend an Angels home game.

DETROIT TIGERS - Our family roots for the team that sports the Old English D so I had to include them on the list.  For $17 the Detroit Tigers Kids Club provides an exclusive Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown Drawstring Backpack, a “triple crown” for your little one to wear, a coloring & activity book, a Detroit Tigers Min Fathead, a birthday card from the team to your child, and three issues of their PAWSPrints newsletter.  They also provide the opportunity to win exclusive Kids Club experiences like throwing the ceremonial first pitch. Not a bad deal but sorry Tigers there is a lot of room for improvement when compared to the competition.  That being said, let’s focus on winning the World Series first!!!

CLICK HERE for a listing of all the MLB team’s website kids’ sections.  Some of these teams have kids clubs and others just have information of interest to kids posted online.

Cheering on your favorite sporting team can be a great bonding experience and fun way to spend time together as a family.  These Kids Clubs are a nice way to introduce your children to the team you cheer for and encourage them to join you as a fan.  If you haven’t checked them out for your local team, I encourage you to do so.  Summer’s here and baseball’s back in town – maybe we’ll see you at the ballpark!

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