It’s no surprise that people come to Florida throughout the year to take advantage of the weather and gorgeous scenery. Tourists flock here to take their annual beach vacations or relax with a trip to one of our exceptional golf courses. Though Florida has plenty to offer, now is the perfect time to visit for one of our greatest treasures: Spring Training with the Grapefruit League. This year, spring training began on February 22 and will run until March 24. Baseball fans everywhere know there is no better time than now to get an insider’s view on your favorite players and teams. For those of us living in Florida, the fun is basically right in our backyards.
WHAT IS SPRING TRAINING?
Spring Training is an opportunity for Major League teams to practice in warm climates before the official season starts. The tradition dates back to 1886 when Chicago White Stockings president, Albert Spalding, took his team to Arkansas to take advantage of the nicer weather. Eventually, other teams took notice and hopped on board in various warmer cities. Over time, the two main locations for spring training narrowed down to Arizona and Florida. Arizona hosts the Cactus League for spring training, and Florida is home to the Grapefruit League.
WHERE DID FLORIDA COME UP WITH THE “GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE”?
Unlike Arizona’s spring training league name, our state history has a pretty funny story behind the “Grapefruit League” as a name. In 1915, a female aviator named Ruth Law was doing a promotion where she dropped golf balls onto a golf course from her plane. The Brooklyn Dodgers were in spring training in Daytona and thought it’d be a good idea for her to drop a baseball onto a baseball field to promote spring training. However, when the big moment came, Law forgot to pack a baseball onto the flight, so she had to settle for the next best object: a grapefruit from one of her crew member’s lunches. She threw it down about 500 ft. to the Dodger’s manager, who was waiting with a glove to catch it. When the fruit hit him and splattered, he had such a shock that he initially thought the fruit exploding was his own flesh wound from the impact.
WHERE CAN I WATCH SPRING TRAINING IN OUR AREA?
In the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast area, we have three ballparks you can check out.
- The Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium
- Location: Jupiter, FL
- Home to: Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals, 4 minor league teams
- Fun fact: In September 2012, the stadium hosted the qualifying round for the 2013 World Baseball Classic that included Spain, France, Israel, and South Africa.
- The FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches
- Location: West Palm Beach, FL
- Home to: Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals
- Fun fact: The stadium hosts the Light the Night Celebration Walk along with over 1,400 youth destination baseball games every year.
- Clover Park
- Location: St. Lucie, FL
- Home to: New York Mets
- Fun fact: The stadium offers a left-field party area for fans.
WHAT CHANGES CAN I EXPECT IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS DURING SPRING TRAINING?
You should definitely expect an increase in visitors in the cities with spring training ballparks. You’ll have an influx of teams, managers, trainers, staff, and fans. Since this is a perfect time for teams to try out different players and see who they really want to keep, there will be more than enough players in the surrounding areas. An incredible amount of players are invited to spring training, but not everyone makes the necessary impression to officially join a major league team.
WHAT TEAMS COME TO FLORIDA FOR SPRING TRAINING?
The 2020 Grapefruit League will host the following teams:
You can check out the complete spring training schedule here.
What Can I Expect at Spring Training as a Fan?
The experience of watching spring training in person is unforgettable. The setting is smaller and more intimate than an official game. You have closer access to your favorite players, and you get to hear and see things you wouldn’t normally experience in a regular game. The odds of scoring an autograph are much higher in this setting. Many stadiums have boosted their appeal with craft breweries and eateries that cater to the fan base of the teams they host. You’ll find some of the most beautiful stadiums here in Florida, complete with lush greenery and vibrant colors. Tickets can be very reasonable, averaging from as low as $6 to higher options in the $50-60 range. To make the most of a trip, you might want to consider purchasing a weekend package of tickets so that you can catch a few games while in town. Taking advantage of spring training can make for an incredible family trip or reunion trip with friends.