Humor

How To Read at a Baseball Game

Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

Leah Rachel von Essen reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

The MLB season is now well underway, so I’m sure a ton of you are asking: how can I best read at a baseball game? 

I mean, it’s kind of an ideal scenario. You have the white noise. You can get a giant beer and a giant tub of popcorn. And if the local team isn’t doing so hot these days, there will probably be a nice empty row to settle in, spread out in, and really enjoy the spring air as you read.

As your local read-anywhere-and-everywhere expert, who happens to be dating a passionate Chicago White Sox fan, I can tell you this: reading at the baseball game is not only possible, but encouraged. (But also, don’t tell my boyfriend, he thinks I really love baseball). 

a woman reading a book in a seat that overlooks a ballpark
Reading Middlemarch before a Chicago White Sox game.

Here are my tips for maximizing your reading time so that you can enjoy the baseball game as God intended: doing something else and looking up now and then when the crowd goes wild.

1. Be Prepared

Stadiums have a ton of anti-reader rules instituted to make it as difficult as possible for you to safely bring a book into the game.

Bag size limitations are a pain in the butt, so look into clear bag situations! My local stadium allows me to bring in a big old tote, because it’s a clear plastic tote vs. a normal one. I could fit tons of books in there!

Also be prepared for rain with a freezer ziploc or book cover to protect your valuable reading material.

2. Audiobooks

I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? If you’re not quite ready to go full hardcover at the game, put in your earbuds and turn up the volume.

If someone asks, pretend you’re listening to the broadcast. They’ll be impressed, but warning: they also might ask what the announcers said about certain plays. Keep your guard up.

3. Or Embrace Ebooks

People might frown on reading in spaces like bars or baseball games but they never seem to bat an eye when you’re just fully on your phone. So download an app and read your ebooks on your phone. They’ll think you’re just bored, or checking Twitter for play-by-play. (Again, this works best if your local team is doing just okay.)

Oh, and bring a power bank! What if your power runs out in the 6th inning? What would there be to do for the rest of the game?

4. Blend In

Memorize a few quick baseball phrases, and whenever the crowd yells, join in with one of these:

  • “Are you kidding me, ump?”
  • “It’s outta here!”
  • “Go to the bullpen!”
  • “You’re killing me, Smalls!”
  • “Ohtani for MVP!”
  • “Booooooooooo Astros!”
  • “We gotta call a time out!”

You might get some looks, but trust me, it’s working. The sportsball people think you’re one of them.

5. …You Could Always Relocate

The stands are uncomfortable and balls might fly from the sky at any time. That’s nonsense! What kind of reading environment are they trying to encourage? 

The good news: a lot of stadiums nowadays have awesome in-stadium bars or seating areas, indoor and outdoor, that you can and should consider. This obviously depends on the people you’re with, and whether you’re in stealth mode or not.

6. Know the New Rules

Huge, upsetting news for my fellow baseball-game readers: there are new rules this year that are meant to make baseball faster. It’s meant to discourage a narrow focus on big plays and encourage more base-running, bunting, strategic and small plays. 

These rules have been extremely controversial because they significantly hamper reading time at baseball games. The whole idea is that it’s a sport with all these big ol’ breaks between big moments that allow you easy space to read, and now they’re trying to make you pay attention!

It’s frustrating, but don’t worry: there’s only so much they can speed up baseball. You will find reading time.

7. Breaks between Innings are Your Friends

Root with your whole heart for the innings to end, because every time an inning closes, you’ll have an entire 5 to 10 minutes to read as the baseball people get their sportsball butts all warmed up.

8. Remember to Get Up When the Game’s Over

I know, there’s one more chapter to the end of the book, but you’re blowing your cover right now! Everyone else is leaving because the game ended. You have to act like you were watching the game.

If people make eye contact with you, just shake your head with a small smile. Whether your team won or lost, this will pretty much work.