When I started this Spring Training series, I had my Top 5 list ready to go.
But, my editor/husband insisted that the Spring Training I attended should be included.
So, apologies Limestone League – the World War II-era years when teams held Spring Training north of the Mason-Dixon and east of the Mississippi. French Lick and Terre Haute. Bloomington and Muncie.
You’re off the list. (Maybe next year.)
Number 2 on my list of amazing Spring Trainings is the one I attended in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Many people believe that attending Spring Training is the mark of a true baseball fan.
To be a true baseball fan is to watch a 17-inning game, start to finish … and then watch it again when the local sports network replays it on Thanksgiving Day. (It will take six hours and seven minutes, in case you’re wondering. And, yes, we won.)
To be a true baseball fan is to sit – or, more correctly, stand – through a freezing two-and-a-half hour rain delay during the playoffs only to have your team go down in bitter defeat in the 9th.
To be a true baseball fan is to watch your beloved team lose more often than it wins and still love them. To watch them lose 100 games in a single season. To watch them lose 21 in a row. And, still love them.
To be a true baseball fan is to say, “We’ll get ‘em tomorrow,” no matter the odds. And, mean it.
Spring Training, on the other hand, is just a lovely way to spend a vacation in Florida (or Arizona) during the chilly, waning days of winter. Sandwiching ballgames with a little beach time or tee time or margarita time.
For a few years in the 1990s, the St. Louis Cardinals shared St. Petersburg, Florida and Al Lang Stadium with the Baltimore Orioles.
So, in 1992, I went to Spring Training by myself. I was much younger of course (12 would be a good guess, but since I was driving a rental car and drinking beer, though not at the same time, perhaps I was a bit older).