Spring Training 2012
Rushing the Season
March 06, 2012 -
The Summertime Pleasures of Baseball Spring Training
The boys of summer may not start their regular season until April, but baseball fans can make spring come early – and so can Prevost owners.
This rite of Spring is a century-long tradition that provides fans with unusual access and a relaxed atmosphere to watch their baseball heroes.
Spring Training for Major League Baseball teams began in the late 1800s. By the turn of the 20th century it was well-established preparation for the season’s competition, and by 1910 it was an official part of the baseball season’s activities.
For northerners, Spring Training has a special wintertime allure, because it takes place in the warmth and sunshine of the teams’ camps in Florida and Arizona. It makes an ideal road trip for Prevost owners who would enjoy seeing their favorite team’s preparations in a way that’s easy-going and fun.
Spring Training gives fans opportunities to experience baseball in ways that are impossible during the regular season in their home parks. The atmosphere is more laid-back, the players more approachable, and the action closer to fans’ eyes and ears than it ever is in the big, major-league parks.
Joe Connor (baseballguru.com) calls it “the ultimate fan-friendly adventure that delivers incredible intimacy and affordability.”
The training camps open with workouts in mid-February and the pre-season games start at the beginning of March. Pitchers and catchers report first, followed a few days to a week later by the position players. However, many position players – particularly those who are not guaranteed a spot on the roster – will arrive early to give themselves more time to prepare and make an impression.
Writing about these workout and practice sessions on springtrainingconnection.com, Graham Knight says, “for about three hours per day for nearly two weeks fans can enjoy baseball nirvana.”
That’s because these sessions take place in smaller satellite baseball fields around the training complex’s main stadium. You can get very close to the players and coaches and hear their discussions as they do their jobs. And even though there is no admission charge, crowds tend to be quite small, giving fans seeking autographs some great opportunities.
When the pre-season games begin around the first of March, the crowds get much larger. Attendance at these games has been growing, to the point where now the games sell out, and you have to arrive early to get a decent place to park. Even so, because these games are played in smaller stadiums and the competitive pressures aren’t as intense, the whole experience tends to be more intimate and casual.
There’s plenty of opportunity to see a variety of teams in action. Florida’s 15 Grapefruit League teams, for example, play a total of 243 pre-season games this year between March 2 and April 4 – all of them in Central Florida. That’s an average of 7 games a day, albeit at locations spread across the peninsula from Tampa to Orlando along the I-4 corridor, and Ft. Myers to Jupiter farther south.
The Cactus League in Arizona is even more compact geographically. All 15 of these teams practice and play their games in the greater Phoenix area, and their schedule averages the same number of games per day as the Grapefruit League.
Most pre-season games are played in the early afternoon, so there’s no opportunity to double up the day games. But evening games are frequent enough that seeing two games a day is often possible. This year, in the seven days from March 20 to 26, for example, you could theoretically take in 12 Cactus League games – probably enough to satisfy all but the most ardent baseball aficionados.
So, if this kind of expedition in your Prevost sounds like your kind of enjoyment, we’ve provided some websites below for further research and planning. Play ball!
Team-by-team ballpark information, schedules, and tickets.
A guide to attending spring training practices, including where practices are held (usually not at the same field where they play the games), news, features, a schedule of reporting dates for all teams, and detailed descriptions and guides for all the ballparks.
Spring Training news and features, schedules, team-by-team ballpark information.
Spring Training Team Parks
Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, AZ
Hohokam Park, 1235 N. Center St., Mesa, AZ
Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers
Camelback Ranch, 10710 W. Camelback Rd., Glendale, AZ
Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians
Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear, AZ
Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers
Surprise Stadium, 15960 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise, AZ
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 W. Alameda Dr., Tempe, AZ
Maryvale Baseball Park, 3600 N. 51st Ave., Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 5999 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ
San Francisco Giants
Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 E. Osborn Rd., Scottsdale, AZ
San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners
Peoria Stadium, 16101 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria, AZ
Champion Stadium, 700 S. Victory Lane, Lake Buena Vista, Disney World, FL
Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St. (12th St. and Tuttle Ave.), Sarasota, FL
Boston Red Sox
JetBlue Park at Fenway South (new 2012), 11581 Daniels Pkwy., Ft. Myers, FL
Joker Marchant Stadium, Al Kaline Dr., 2301 Lake Hills Blvd., Lakeland, FL
Osceola County Stadium, 1000 Bill Beck Blvd., Kissimmee, FL
Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals
Roger Dean Stadium, 4751 Main St., Jupiter, FL
Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy., Ft. Myers, FL
New York Mets
Digital Domain Park, 525 N.W. Peacock Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL
New York Yankees
Steinbrenner Field, 3802 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa, FL
Bright House Field, 601 N. Old Coachman Rd., Clearwater, FL
McKechnie Field, 1611 9th St. W. (17th Ave. W. & 9th St. W.), Bradenton, FL
Tampa Bay Rays
Charlotte County Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL
Toronto Blue Jays
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, FL
Space Coast Stadium, 5800 Stadium Pkwy., Melbourne, FL