10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About MLB Spring Training
Spring Training is one of the best times of the year for any baseball fan. It’s the official beginning of the baseball calendar and a reminder that the regular season is only about a month away.
Teams began holding organized spring camps in warm-weather locations in the late 1890s. And the Baseball Almanac credits the New York Yankees with establishing the first permanent spring training site in 1908 in Marlin, Texas. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians opened training facilities in southern Florida in 1913. The Detroit
Tigers are credited with taking spring training to the Phoenix, AZ area in 1929.
During World War II there was an abbreviated spring training season with each team selecting a site that was within easy reach of their cities in order to conserve the fuel that was needed for railroad transportation at that time in order to support the war effort.
Here are 10 things you probably don’t know about MLB Spring Training.
1. Back to the Future
The New York Yankees Spring Training Stadium in Tampa, Florida, was constructed to be a replica of the old Yankee Stadium that was originally in the Bronx. The dimensions of the sprint training field are the exactly the same and the scalloped grandstand facade is also meant to invoke memories of the old ballpark.
Today MLB’s Spring Training consists of two leagues: the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona. The Grapefruit League used to be the home for the majority of teams, but the Cactus League slowly grew over time. Today the leagues are evenly split, with each league containing 15 teams.
According to the Arizona Republic, the Cactus League generates more than $300 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area economy. That’s a whole lot of money for games that don’t count for anything.
5. Step Up to the Big Leagues
Professional baseball teams frequently play college teams from nearby cities early in spring training, which is considered a valuable and unique experience for the college ball players. For example, the Boston Red Sox first two games in the Spring of 2015 are against Northeastern University and Boston College.
6. Take Me Out to a (Spring Training) Ball Game
Major League Baseball enjoyed a spring training of record-breaking attendance in 2014. The average attendance of 8,078 fans per game over 447 games played surpassed the previous mark of 7,793 per game set in 2008. Overall, Spring Training attracted 3,610,738 fans in 2014.
7. Second to None
During the record-breaking attendance year of 2014, the Chicago Cubs saw by far the highest number of fans enter their stadium of any team. The Cubs drew a total of 213,815 fans and an average of 14,254 fans per game during the inaugural season at Cubs Park in Mesa, Arizona. Cubs Park now boasts the top 12 single-game attendance records in spring training history.
8. Statistics Anyone?
Statistics from spring training might mean something to the teams in helping them decide who makes the roster and wins starting jobs, but other than that, they mean absolutely nothing. That includes any records that are broken or any rare feats.
For example, the Red Sox used six pitchers to throw a perfect game in 2000, an incredible accomplishment during the regular season, but in early spring training? A rare feat that hardly anyone knows even happened, but you now know that!
9. Over There, Over There…
In the 1940’s the then Brooklyn Dodgers did their spring training in Havana, Cuba and later the Dominican Republic. The New York Yankees followed the Dodgers to Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the 1950’s. Over the years other teams have traveled to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Hawaii for their spring training. The Chicago Cubs held their spring training on Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California from the 1920’s – 1940’s.
10. It’s a Small World After All
The concept of spring training is not limited to North America, the Japanese professional baseball leagues adopted spring training and pre-season games that are spread out across Eastern Asia in places like South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan, as well as Pacific Islands that include Hawaii.