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Best Of The Year

Copyright: EBSM
Copyright: EBSM

While the games, and their outcomes are always our priority, we like to keep you posted on the stuff that's most important to you as well. That brings us to the Best Of from the year that was. Stadium food to fan experience, we're looking back at our season and letting you know when we were truly wowed!

Our reporters and photographers travel all across Europe every summer but we don’t get to see nearly enough of the more than 100 European ballparks. We're guessing you feel the same.

At the office we compare notes and have heated debates about which parks offer the best of everything. We keep a running list for reference when folks go on the road and thought we’d share with you our best experiences at the 20 parks we visited this season.

Grub is always high on our list of priorities so we thought we’d start there.

Best Local Specialty: Grilled Italian sausage served on a ciabatta roll

Bollate, Italy

Best Dessert: Pistacchio ice cream sundae with a chocolate lined cone

Bollate, Italy

Best Side Dish: Corn on the Cob

Armin-Wolf Arena in Regensburg, Germany home of the Buchinder Legionaere

Best Burger

Diving Ducks stadium in Wiener Neustadt, Austria

Copyright: EBSM
Copyright: EBSM

Best Food Truck

Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, Attnang-Puchheim, Austria

Appropriately named Gaumensex (translation not fit to print) let’s just say there wasn’t anything on their menu we weren’t interested in. The philly steak, pictured above, was a great flank steak re-creation but their chimichangas were like an oasis in a dessert far, far away from any Hispanic cuisine.

Best Home Cooked Meals

Curacao Neptunus, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

From a kitchen built for nothing more than a deep fryer, he witnessed so many unbelievably good looking home-cooked meals coming forth our on-site reporter was convinced there must be a full kitchen he wasn’t seeing. He asked for a peak behind the curtain but there was no curtain to behold. What he saw was all there was, a simple deli case, cash register with pass-through window and a griddle with a deep fryer.

Sure there was the usual fried fair, but the chef plated jerk chicken over rice with fresh vegetables and watermelon and other unbelievable meals that made him feel like he’d just stepped into someone’s home kitchen. It was all so mouthwatering he got more caught up seeing what would come out next than in actually ordering. By the time he set his mind on a dish, it was sold out! He’s already asked to be sent back in 2018 and he plans on arriving early, and hungry!

Best Beer

Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, Attnang-Puchheim, Austria

Everyone has their own personal favorites when it comes to flavor but we can all agree, no one should drink alone at a ball game. That’s why we’re giving the Best Beer award to the Attnang-Puchheim Athletics. Their beers come with convenient 4-pack carriers as demonstrated by fans from the Sissach Frogs!

Copyright: EBSM
Copyright: EBSM

Best Seats in the House

Diving Ducks, Wiener Neustadt, Austria

A large part of what makes any food great is the venue, and that brings us back to that burger at the Diving Ducks. Their grill sits on a deck filled with tables that are built from nothing more than palettes. Their simplicity somehow adds a casual, relaxed feel quintessential to any great BBQ experience.

Copyright: EBSM
Copyright: EBSM

Best Fan Experience

Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, Attnang-Puchheim, Austria

If you’re looking to add a bit of fun to your tournament tour in 2018, we suggest you drop by the Athletic’s field in Attnang-Puchheim during Finkstonball.

Aside from the free concerts at the end of every game day, and opening ceramonies, their in-game entertainment is outstanding. Between innings they are interviewing players, challenging the fans to some ball trivia and running contests that let fans do amazing things like water ballooning the staff!

Plus they have a great foul ball programs for the kids. Every time a kid returns a foul ball to the team they get to pick a sweet treat from the candy jar or something from the prize vault. They also get a stamp on a special card the team’s made up just for their regular ball runners. Those who collect 10 stamps get to select a free item from concessions.

Best Professional Atmosphere

Hoboken Pioneers, Hoboken, Belgium

The Hoboken Pioneers stadium is built for the cosmopolitan fan. Their on-site bar has an amazing view of the field from every corner. The venue includes a stage and sofa seats for those needing a break from the action as well. There is a foosball table on the concourse between the bar and club seats. Even the grilling area had an air of sophistication. Looking at the stadium empty you might expect nothing but three-piece suits at game time but nothing could be further from the truth. Fans of all pay grades were shoulder-to-shoulder packed in and enjoying one another’s company. Even the parking lot was high-end with a separate parking area for bikes and motorbikes as well as a huge play area for the kids. The only downside our staff found was that their outstanding looking team shop was closed during the game!

Most Hospitable

Budapest Reds, Budapest, Hungary

The Reds don't have a lot in the way of facilities but what they lack in space they more than make up for in welcome. The field is made up of nothing more than storage containers and a few home-built benches but every detail is seen to with the greatest of care. Their locker room is one of those storage containers and, inside, they have helmet and hat hooks, along with clothing storage designed right into the walls so that each player has their own personal space and their property is treated with care.

The way they treat their fans is no different. When the sun gets too high in the sky, the umbrellas are put up and everyone huddles under, meeting their neighbors and sharing some shade. The concession shack is manned by the junior players and their picnic area makes you feel like you're out on a Sunday drive.

Mostly though, it's the players who make you feel at home. Their big smiles and constant inner play let you know that this is a team that plays together because they can't image being anywhere else, with anyone else, and that's just fun to be a part of, no matter which side of the fence your bench happens to be situated on.

Best All Around Experience

Attnang-Puchheim Athletics, Attnang-Puchheim, Athletics

This one has to go to the Athletics as well. From the moment you step foot on their grounds, you’re family. There’s no other way to say it. So we thought we'd show you instead. Click the photo to view the slideshow.

#baseball #SoftballEurope #softball #lovesoftball #Europe #野球 #ソフトボール

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