Spring Training Trips
February is a most important month for baseball fans. Why you ask? Well it’s the month that Spring Training starts. Many fans, like this writer, anxiously await the reporting date for pitchers and catchers. In my case, that’s February 13th for my beloved Philadelphia Phillies. Considering how much I despise the cold and snow, being able to look forward to this date makes winter slightly more bearable. SLIGHTLY. A great way to show support for your team, and to get a little sun and fun in during the last several weeks of winter, is to head to Arizona or Florida and catch some spring training games. You can save money as tickets are less expensive, the ballparks are smaller, players are open to signing autographs, you’ll see new and developing talent and you will leave the snow behind! Several teams who hold their training camps in Florida are located close to each other. The Phillies are in Clearwater, the Toronto Blue Jays are close by in Dunedin and the Yankees are in Tampa. Over on the east coast of Florida, the Miami Marlins work out in Jupiter, the NY Mets are in Port St. Lucie. Other Grapefruit League teams play elsewhere in Florida, check with your teams’ website for further details. The Cactus League teams, including the World Champion Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians all hold their spring workouts in Arizona. Most teams’ spring training facilities are located in and around Phoenix, making it fairly easy to see several games. Again, look for additional information on your favorite team’s website. While you can certainly plan out your trip on your own, most teams will offer packages that will include hotel, rental car, tickets to a few games, special meet & greets with players and broadcast teams. Several teams still have packages available for mid-March, starting at around $1100 per person without air or meals. Attending spring training at least once is a must for every true baseball fan. Many fans go annually and make a big vacation trip out of spring training. In each town, you’ll usually be able to find favorite restaurants that are popular with the players, broadcasters and fans! Lenny’s in Clearwater is great for breakfast or lunch before or after the games. In Tampa, try Too Jay’s deli or Champps. Atlanta Braves fans who also love Disney will be glad to know that Braves’ spring training activities take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in the Walt Disney World resort! Combine some baseball with a visit to one of the many theme parks in the Orlando area and have an awesome vacation! Get yourself ready for the baseball season and plan a trip to Spring Training today. Trust me, you’ll have a wonderful time. Don’t forget your camera, a baseball and a pen so you can remember the fun! I’ll always remember the great time I had watching my Phillies under warm, sunny skies in Florida, and I cherish the autographs and photos I took while in Clearwater!