One of the benefits of being a Floridian is being able to enjoy spring training baseball games at my whim. I am a sports enthusiast like many others who flock to Florida and Arizona during March, and having “the boys” in town for a few weeks always brings excitement to the beginning of a new baseball season. America’s favorite pastime brings thousands to Florida and Arizona, and it has been a time treasured event that is as deeply rooted as it fans.
Who’s On First?
The early history of spring training is debated to have gone back to the 1880’s, and well-established by 1910. It was not developed to market the team or even considered to be a money maker for the owners. Training was a bigger expense back then mainly because players could not live off of their baseball salaries alone and had to compensate after season with jobs that didn’t allow them to maintain the physical shape required for the team. Just like today, it was used more so to get the players back into shape, evaluate how new players were developing, or to see if any cuts needed to be made to the roster. Teams would take the train by night and play games during the day against college teams and other professional or semi-professional teams.
IT WASN’T ALWAYS WARM
Spring training games weren’t always held in sunny Florida or Arizona, and travel wasn’t easily accessible for teams or their fans. Buses and trains were the main source of transportation and the needs of the country were different for the time. Due to The Depression and war, resources were spread thin and the government authorized materials to be transported rather than baseball players. Baseball itself was considered more of a luxury and leaned upon to help the morale of the citizens of our country during these national and international times of crisis and war. Therefore, spring training travel was limited to a teams’ home region.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
Not too long after the end of WWII, owners started stretching out to California and Arizona mainly because of their personal interest in buying land. The lure of investors, devoted fans, and the beautiful weather created a new form of competition creating a Grapefruit league out of Florida and Cactus league out of Arizona. Many bids have been made by small towns and even Las Vegas to land franchises to their city. Promises of beautiful stadiums, top-notch facilities, and tourist packages entice teams to establish roots and call these towns their second home. For a few weeks you can cheer on and scout all of your favorite players for half the cost of a regular season ticket and escape the cold northern temperatures.
http://www.springtrainingonline.com/features/history.htm – Spring Training