Now that New York has defrosted . . . it's time to play ball! The lines are painted on the grass, the pitcher's mound is tightly packed and the bases are in position for the Yankees and Mets to start a new baseball season. Maybe you can even smell the roasted peanuts in the air.
In honor of the nine players who take the field, here are nine ways to celebrate the return of America's favorite pastime.
HOUSE OF CARDS
Whether you are looking for new baseball cards or antique ones, Card Shack in Lynbrook is your source, with more than 4 million cards in stock and 27 years in the business. The store even hosts old-school card-flipping contests and seminars on how to properly care for your collection.
INFO 9 Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook; 516-561-5100, thecardshack.us
QUACK THE BAT
The Long Island Ducks' Fan Fest is back for its third year at 10:30 a.m. April 18 at the Bethpage Ballpark. The day features a spring training game against the Bridgeport Bluefish at 1 p.m., inflatables for the kids, a photo booth and an appearance by mascot Quacker Jack. Admission is free.
INFO 3 Court House Dr., Central Islip; 631-940-3825, liducks.com
GET ON THE BUS
Board the party bus at the Bench Bar and Grill in Stony Brook for a trip to Yankee Stadium on June 7. For $80, you can watch the Bronx Bombers play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 1:05 p.m. There's a pregame tailgate party on the bus and postgame open bar upon return.
INFO 1095 NY-25A, Stony Brook, 631-675-1474, thebenchbar.com
If you want to meet some baseball legends, the Steiner Store in the Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City is the place. Mets fans can catch Bud Harrelson on April 14 at 6:30 p.m., Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez on April 23 at 6:30 p.m. and Matt Harvey on May 27 at 6 p.m. For Yankees fans, see Bernie Williams and Joe Torre on May 26 at 6:30 p.m. (Prices vary per signing.)
INFO 800-242-7139, steinersports.com
OLD SCHOOL BALL
Turn the clock back to the 1800s and experience vintage baseball with the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York. Opening day is April 18 at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration versus the Hoboken Nine at 11 a.m. In Suffolk County, see the Brooklyn Atlantics play at 11 a.m. April 25-26 on the grounds of the Smithtown Historical Society.
INFO Mutual Base Ball Club: $10 ($7 ages 5-12), 1303 Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage, 516-572-8400, nymutuals.com; Brooklyn Atlantics: free admission, 239 East Main St., Smithtown; 631-265-6768, brooklynatlantics.org
GET IN THE CAGE
Head to the plate and take a few swings at a batting cage. If you want stay indoors, you can hit for a half-hour ($28) or an hour ($48) at Baseball Plus in Hicksville. Go outdoors at Batter Up Batting Range in Bethpage where $1.50 gets you 10 pitches.
INFO Baseball Plus, 400 Duffy Ave., Hicksville, 516-827-5009, baseballplusny.com; Batter Up Batting Range, 130 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage, 516-731-2020, batterupli.com
DRESS LIKE A PRO
Pick up a pro-model jersey (up to $160) at Amity Harbor Sports in Amityville, where you can get it personalized with hand-stitched letters and numbers (prices vary). Replica jerseys ($79) are also available, along with more than 100 styles of gloves ($35-$500), Yankees and Mets caps ($10-$20) and a wide variety of wood and aluminum bats ($100-$450).
INFO 631-691-7505, 149 Merrick Rd., Amityville, amitysports.com
Attention serious collectors: There's a gold mine of baseball treasures on display at Cardboard Memories in Commack, a 2,000-square-foot memorabilia store that evokes a sports museum. See a signed game-issued glove from retired Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (on sale for $1,300), retired Yankees closer Mariano Rivera's autographed cleats (on sale for $700) or a signed and matted photo of Mets Hall of fame pitcher Tom Seaver on the day his number 41 was retired (on sale for $299).
INFO 6401 Jericho Tpke., Commack; 631-462-1919, cardboardmemories.com
GO TO A SHOW
Peruse more than 300 tables of memorabilia at the Long Island National #22 sports collectible show inside Hofstra University's David S. Mack Student Center April 18 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and 19 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Every child younger than 12 gets a gift pack of cards.
INFO $8 (free younger than 10) Hofstra University, Hempstead, nyshows.org/hofstra-show