Fenway ParkOne of the best dates on the annual Boston sports calendar—Opening Day for the Red Sox—is only a few weeks away. But good luck getting a ticket, at least without taking out a second mortgage on your home.

Red Sox tickets are as scarce and pricey as ever, with a consecutive sellout streak that dates back to 2003, but a great alternative to Fenway are the minor league affiliates of the Red Sox, all within easy driving distance of metropolitan Boston. The Single A Lowell Spinners don’t take the field until June, but the Double A Portland Sea Dogs and Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox swing into action in early April. Minor league baseball provides affordable and family-friendly entertainment, and you can scout some of the future Red Sox stars on the road to Fenway.

The Red Sox Triple A affiliate plays only 45 miles away from Boston, tantalizingly close for players who want to graduate to the big leagues. Many Red Sox greats have played for Pawtucket over the years, from Fisk to Boggs to Clemens to Garciaparra. The PawSox, as the team is affectionately known, play in 10,000-seat McCoy Stadium, which was built as part of the WPA program. Although the stadium is nearly 70 years old, it does have modern amenities. New this year is an LED videoboard in the outfield that is among the largest in minor league baseball.

Tickets are $5 for seniors and kids, $7 for general admission, and $11 for box seats. An added bonus if you are bringing your young sluggers to the games: kids 12 and under who have a box seat will get a coupon for a free hot dog, chips, and Pepsi for designated home games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday through June 15. Opening Night is April 8 at 7:05 against the Rochester Red Wings. For tickets, click here or call 401-724-7300.

Baseball fans north of Boston can make the short drive up to Portland, Maine, to catch the Sea Dogs, which are as popular as lobster and lighthouses. The Sea Dogs are among the leaders in attendance in Double A baseball, and fans flock to games even in nippy spring weather, eating Sea Dog Biscuit ice cream sandwiches and enjoying local microbrews.

The Sea Dogs play in Hadlock Field, which has more than 7,000 seats. The “Maine Monster,” a replica of Fenway’s Green Monster, dominates left field, but the 10-foot-high L.L. Bean boot in right field and the lighthouse that rises up beyond the center-field fence after every Portland home run or victory is pure Maine local color.

The Sea Dogs have their home opener at 6:05 PM on April 15 against Trenton. Tickets for seniors and children range from $4 to $8, while adult tickets are between $7 and $9. For tickets, click here or call 207-879-9500.