Take Your Crew Out to the Ball Game With the Myrtle Beach Pelicans

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Myrtle Beach may be more famous for beach balls than baseball, but America's favorite family beach vacation destination is also a hotbed for America's pastime. Visitors come for our sandy beaches and discover that we're known for our sandlots.

The Coastal Carolina University baseball team just claimed the College World Series championship, several local high school teams have played for and won state titles, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the defending Carolina League champions. The Pelicans, the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, offer major-league excitement in a minor-league ballpark.

Located at Broadway at the Beach, about 5 miles south of Long Bay Resort, Pelicans Ballpark provides a family friendly atmosphere that is entertaining whether you like baseball or not. The game itself, while featuring top prospects and future big-leaguers in action, is almost secondary to the zany antics held between innings and in the middle of the grandstands.

Watch Splash the Pelican play with the little ones, root for the Rally Shark to make an appearance, and see Duece the Ballpark Dog deliver fresh baseballs to the umpire. Laugh along as fans are plucked from the crowd to take part in silly contests, such as Inflatable Sumo Wrestling and the Dizzy Bat Race, and keep your eyes peeled for the T-shirt cannon that shoots freebies into the crowd.

The Pelicans are also famous for their nightly promotions and weekly specials. Upcoming game-day promos include West Virginia Night (July 13), Postgame Fireworks (July 14) and Myrtle Beach Mermen Night (July 21), when the first 500 fans receive replica jerseys from the hit HBO Series “Eastbound and Down.” Pirate Night (July 22) offers prizes to those who come dressed as a swashbuckling buccaneer, and special National Pro Fastpitch Softball exhibition games will be held July 28-29.

Even if you can't make it to one of these special events, the Pelicans offer repeating deals every weeknight. The most popular promotion is Thirsty Thursday, when draft beers are only $1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Microbrew Tuesday brings $2 craft beers; Wiener Wednesday has buy one, get one free hot dogs; and Backpack Buddies Monday offers half-price admission for those who donate items for schoolchildren. Children get to play catch on the field before the games and run the bases after each game.

The ballpark has been ranked in the top 50 on lists of best minor-league venues, and there really isn't a bad seat in the 5,500-capacity house. The grandstands are covered to provide shade from the setting sun, and the outfield bleachers allow fans to be close to the action in left field. Box seats with air conditioning and catered food and beverages are available on a per-game basis, and the left-field line features Pelican Beach, a unique setting that includes sand and beach chairs that put you close to the action.

Even if you have a hard time getting the kids to sit still and watch the game, you can find plenty of ways to keep them entertained in the ballpark. A large playground down the right field line is a great place to let the little ones burn off some steam, and a miniature baseball diamond on the right field side allows kids to get a pick-up game together so they can emulate the stars on the diamond. Games, displays and, of course, concessions are also distractions. Enjoy ice cream, hot dogs, pizza, boiled peanuts and Cracker Jacks — all the snacks that make a night at the ballpark complete.

Most games start at 7 p.m., except for 6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets prices start at $9, but there are several ticket packages and discounts available. For more information, visit www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com.