If you're thinking you'd like to give your child the opportunity to play baseball, but don't know how to get started, keep reading. We'll walk you through the things East Bay parents need to know, step by step. (See what I did there?)
Learning to throw and catch requires practice. The first step is to buy yourself and your child baseball gloves so that you can play catch. Get one for everyone in the family. You'll want a few soft balls, too. Here's an Amazon (affiliate) link to some affordable supplies to launch your new family hobby.
Where to play
Make playing catch a practice. My son is motivated by the theatrics of the game, so while plenty of public grassy fields make sufficient backgrounds for playing catch, a real baseball field is even better. Check out these fields of dreams, where you can go play when school and baseball practice are not in session:
Alameda Little League Fields in Alameda
Chabot Park in Rockridge
Caldecott Field in the Oakland Hills
Montclair Park in Montclair
Coaches Field in Piedmont
King Middle School in Berkeley
La Loma Park in the Berkeley Hills
Ocean View field in Albany
Albany Middle School in Albany
Albany Little League Field in Albany
Where to watch baseball
Taking your children to live baseball games can mean varying time and money commitments. While a Giants or As game is a fun, multi-generational activity, a Cal baseball game is cheaper and offers closer seating. (Here's the Cal schedule for 2017.)
Little League games are not quite as action-packed as college-level ball, but you can certainly drop in on one and stay for an inning or two since they are free. Check the NOLL/SOLL Facebook page and Albany Little League for activities and events. Registration for these leagues is happening now.
Pro-tip: The Albany Little League Snack Shack sells hot dogs and organic chicken apple sausages for $2. You can feed and entertain your whole family outdoors for less than $10 if you show up at the right time of night. There is a playground for bored spectators next to the bleachers, too.
Recreational Leagues for Spring Seasons
Did you miss a registration date? Visit the websites for these recreational leagues so that you can be reminded about them for next year.
NOLL/SOLL (North Oakland/South Oakland)
El Cerrito Youth Baseball
Albany Little League
Albany Berkeley Girl's Softball League
Alameda Little League
Alameda Girl's Softball Association
Piedmont Baseball/Piedmont Softball
But wait, you can get started now
A few programs that offer baseball skills around the East Bay, not centered on a team/game model.
Lil Sluggers at Bladium offers a winter and a spring session of baseball skills and fun for kids 2-6. Join anytime.
Piedmont Recreation department Summer T-Ball (Browse their catalog and put a note on your calendar)
Junior Giants offers free non-competitive baseball for boys and girls in Hayward, Newark, and San Leandro
Summer BALL Camp for boys and girls at Caldecott Field in Oakland
Future Stars Baseball Camp (and ongoing afterschool program)
Diamond Skills Camps (including Spring Break camp, Winter camp, and Summer Camp)
Reader tip: Another great resource in the east bay is Archie Gilbert. He is a retired professional baseball player that teaches kids baseball skills. My son has been taking lessons with him for 6 months and has improved in everything – fielding, pitching, hitting. Plus he has learned game strategy! I highly recommend Archie for anyone who wants to improve their baseball skills. http://www.archiegilbert.com
Where to buy baseball equipment in the East Bay?
If you know what you want, you can click around on Amazon and find it all, but if you need the guidance of a sales person, or want your kiddo to try things on, here are some local shops:
West Coast Sports – 1855 Alvarado St, San Leandro, CA 94577 – (510) 357-8149
Sports Basement – 2727 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA – (510) 984-3907
Mary and Joe's – 911 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA – (510) 525-1597
Dick's Sporting Goods – 549 Southland Mall, Hayward, CA 94545 – (510) 695-2117
Ready to take some swings? Batting cages offer automated pitching machines that can be set to kid-appropriate speeds. Call ahead to learn if you need to be prepared to wait.
Did I leave out your favorite baseball resource? Tell us in the comments and we'll update this post.