Enrich your ballpark trip with these home-run apps

We’re well into the Major League Baseball season, and the dog days of summer will soon give way to some truly thrilling divisional races. As someone who watches most of my games on TV (or streaming online), it’s amazing how much being at a game in person can make me feel so oddly disconnected. Where’s the commentary and the constant array of stats and trivia bits? I crave that extra layer atop the game when it’s absent.

An iPhone or iPad can really come in handy in these moments. As much as you should enjoy the action when you’ve shelled out for a big-league — or heck, even a minor-league — ballgame, having a few apps on hand can enhance your experience. The next time I’m packed in tight in the Wrigley Field stands, I’ll use these apps to liven up the game.

Back in the day, die-hard fans carried small radios into the stadium to listen to commentators while watching in person. Now, you can do the same with the excellent MLB.com At Bat (free, universal) app. You’ll need a subscription to access the live radio feeds, but it’s worth three bucks a month to have either team’s radio crew pumped right into your ears. As the official MLB app, it’s also the best option for viewing scores, highlights, news, and live pitch-by-pitch breakdowns of at-bats.

While At Bat’s minor-league counterpart lacks live game radio, MiLB (free, iPhone) still delivers a solidly comprehensive way to stay tuned-in while checking out one of the big-league team’s lower-level squads. You can check scores, look up player stats to see who the next phenom might be, and even watch streaming video with a subscription.

If you are at one of the 30 current cathedrals of the major league game, however, there’s an app designed to amplify your enjoyment. MLB.com At the Ballpark (free, iPhone) includes basic amenities like stadium maps and directories, as well as the ability to buy tickets, plus you can also check in to ballparks for special offers and rewards. Certain parks even allow you to upgrade your ticket or purchase food and drinks directly from your seat. No more climbing over obnoxious bleacher bums for a hot dog and a cold one!

It’s easy to check scores and stats with any number of apps, but many baseball die-hards prefer to keep score themselves. Luckily, you don’t need pencil and paper to do so anymore. iScore Baseball/Softball Scorekeeper ($9.99, universal) is pricey, but it’s the best of the bunch, letting you input each play with a visual interface that’s robust, but easy to learn and use.

Debates are sure to strike up in the crowd over the course of nine hard-fought innings, but even the most minute details are only a few taps away thanks to Topps Pennant Baseball ($0.99, universal). It collects all of the plays and key stats from every MLB game from the last 60+ seasons, all within a slick and stylish interface, letting you dominate the conversation with both facts and flair.

Don’t spend the whole game staring at your iOS device, but if you want to maximize your time at the ballpark, these essential apps will get you what you need in a hurry. Just keep an eye out for foul balls!

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