Just like everything in Texas, baseball is big in the South – and Houston especially. The city proudly supports its major league Houston Astros, independent minor league Sugar Land Skeeters, as well as four D1 college teams at Rice University, University of Houston, Houston Baptist, and Texas Southern University. All that talent has to start somewhere, which is typically the local youth baseball and Little League programs in Houston.
2015 was a banner year for baseball in Houston. Houston Astros turned the season around and made the playoffs for the first time since 2005. And, for the first time ever, all four D1 Houston baseball teams played in an NCAA Regional. There are high hopes for the Astros' upcoming season among the fans and team. Not to mention the 2016 Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview cover touting Houston Astros as winning the World Series. No pressure! If you're new to Houston or thinking of moving to Houston and not quite sure of the city's connection with baseball, here is a brief rundown about Houston's baseball programs, teams, ticket discounts, and more.
Houston Youth Baseball and Little League
Kids can get involved in the sport of baseball as young as three through T-ball leagues at YMCA Houston. These go up to the 8th grade at the Y. Or families can choose Little League, Houston Select baseball (tryouts, not zoned teams), and travel teams.
"With a metro as large as Houston, there are lots of options on local Little League teams, but most will only want and accept kids that are zoned to their league," says Wilfredo Cazares, a Little League mom in Pasadena.
Cazares describes baseball as the most fun and safest sport parents would want their kids to join and be involved in. Her son's league in Pasadena has nearly 400 kids this spring, while other leagues might average around 200 kids. While there are hundreds to choose from, here's a quick list of youth baseball programs in Houston:
Lindale Little League
As the oldest youth baseball league in Houston, Lindale is celebrating its 66th year of Little League on the north side of Houston. This league is one of the organizations adopted by the Astros Foundation through the Future Astros program, which provides uniforms for the kids and helps maintain the fields. This helps parents save money. Spring season was $65, plus the kids were required to sell a box of chocolate. This season there are 20 teams with more than 200 kids.
"It's more than just baseball/softball," says Margarita Falcon, vice president of Lindale Little League. "A good league is an extended family. Ideally it's an organization that is dedicated to the love of the game as well as molding young children – not just to be great players but to be good people."
Pearland Little League
This league has sent three teams to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, in the last five years. Last year there were 1,100 kids playing on 100 teams.
Post Oak Little League
This is a huge local league with 700 kids and 51 teams last year in four divisions.
Pasadena Girls Softball Association
This girls softball league is part of Amateur Softball Association, which is more competitive than Little League. There are more than 200 girls in the league. Cost is $50–$100 and includes pants, team jersey, and trophy.
NASA Area Little League
This league costs about $150 and includes jersey, hat, socks, and belt. It also has a required fundraiser of World Chocolates. "We absolutely love our Little League," says Darci Chambers, NASA area Little League mom. "We've had great experiences with wonderful, supportive coaches."
Another important aspect of youth baseball in Houston is a YMCA Houston program supporting special needs kids. Miracle League supports kids ages 4–19 who have physical and/or mental disabilities. What started as a conversation over crawfish among three community dads is now changing lives in NW Houston and across the city. These dads were all board members at Langham Creek YMCA, so the idea quickly escalated there.
After three years of planning and fundraising, Langham Creek YMCA developed and built an adaptive sports field (J.E. and L.E. Maybee Adaptive Sports Complex) in 2015, which is the only field of its kind in the Houston area.
"It's a game changer for special needs kids and their families," says Mack Hoehner, Langham Creek YMCA board member and former board chairman. "Everyone wins. The kids who play, the Buddies who help, the parents who cheer, and our community having something so purposeful in our backyard.
"Something special always happens at a Miracle League game," continues Hoehner. "Just sit back and watch for it."
Langham Creek YMCA also offers adaptive soccer, adaptive flag football, adaptive tennis, adaptive basketball, and adaptive swim lessons. Lake Houston YMCA and Baytown Family YMCA also offer Miracle League programs.
Baseball USA Training Facility
Houston also is blessed with an amazing baseball and softball training facility called Baseball USA powered by Marucci in West Houston. With 11 baseball fields on a 35-acre campus, you can't miss it right on Beltway 8. Baseball USA offers tournaments with as many as 90 teams, High School Showcase, High School Select travel teams, youth teams, lessons, as well as a 40,000 sq. ft. indoor training facility.
Houston Astros Baseball Games
Houston Astros have played at the historic Minute Maid Park since 2000 after starting in the Astrodome back in 1965. The ballpark renovated the downtown 1911 Union Station to create the city's first open-air ballpark with a retractable roof and natural grass.
The Astros offer a variety of promotions to help folks save money at the ballpark:
- $1 Hot Dog Wednesdays presented by Nolan Ryan Beef at every home game
- Coca-Cola Value Nights feature a ticket, hot dog, popcorn, and Coke for $18
- Coca-Cola Double Play Tuesdays offer two View Deck II tickets for $22
- Family Four-Packs on select Sundays start at $70
Another option for discount Astros tickets is through the app Gametime, which is changing the way Astros fans score last-minute seats. This launched in fall 2014 in Houston, and Astros fans are loving the values.
The company prides itself on showing actual images of the field so fans can see their true seat, rather than a static map. The app shows fans only the best deals in any section of the stadium (quality over quantity), which definitely pleases fans.
"With the Astros a postseason favorite this year, we expect more and more fans to download the app than ever before," says Brad Griffith, founder and CEO. "Other than showing off the very best values in the stadium, the app is best known for delivering tickets directly to your phone in a matter of moments."
Parking is free on streets near the ballpark after 6 pm and on weekends. Or plan ahead with surface lots and garages nearby. These lots generally are cash only. It's estimated there are 25,000 parking spots within walking distance of the ballpark.
Sugar Land Skeeters
Since 2012, the Sugar Land Skeeters have played at Constellation Field, owned by the City of Sugar Land. This venue also hosts concerts and events. The American League of Professional Baseball is all about fun and affordable family entertainment offering fans an inexpensive way to enjoy baseball in Houston. Tickets range from just $9 in the Grassland, $14 in the Field Box, and $25 in the Diamond Deck to the unique Wells Fargo Picnic Plaza for $38/$36 (kids), which offers an unlimited 2-hour dinner buffet and access to a swimming pool during the game!
A few Sugar Land Skeeters Baseball discounts:
- $1 off admission to seniors (age 55+), active and retired military, and kids 4–12
- Children in a youth uniform receive a free Grassland ticket!
No matter what your age, there are plenty of options to practice, participate, or spectate a great Houston baseball game!