Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Do Fans Go to Spring Training?

It happened again today. It happens all the time once the calendar flips. People ask me if I’ve ever been to Spring Training. It’s a logical question. I’m a Red Sox fan, after all. I’m a pretty big Red Sox fan. So, it makes sense that I may have made it down to the Fort. I haven’t. My answers are usually, “No, but I can’t wait to.” or “One of these days.” But, I’m starting to wonder if those answers are really true. Because, the other answer I sometimes give may be at the crux of the issue. “I have to figure out when I want to be down there, first.”

That’s really the answer. Since I don’t know the answer, does that tell me something? When would I want to be at Spring Training? What is my goal if I ever get down there? Don’t get me wrong. If I find myself in Florida around Spring Training time, I’m swinging by. I always figured I’d be at Disney World some February, and swing by the Braves camp, at least. I’m talking about a dedicated trip. Do you go down right as players report? In the middle of workouts? Once games have begun?

If you’re there the day pitchers and catchers report, isn’t it pretty empty? Aren’t players basically taking physicals, and filling out passport applications? Sure, you would have access to the players unlike you’d get in Boston. But, aren’t you pretty much limited to watching them scuttle from one building to another? That sounds like something that would get stale after, oh, an hour.

I can see that there’d be more to see once full workouts are in full swing. And, again, the access to players would be great. But, don’t the workouts take place on the field? Is it exciting to watch players run sprints in center field? Again, that sounds like something the sun would drain the excitement out of pretty quickly.

I assume the least interesting time to visit is when the games actually start. The workouts are limited at this point, right? Sure it would be fun to see the future stars in game action. But, I’m remembering the 1999 All-Star futures game I was at. Alfonso Soriano put on a show hitting two home runs. I had no idea who he was. I couldn’t care less. I left early. Maybe it’s just me?

I guess one reason I haven’t made it down yet is I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed. It sounds like a lot of standing around and waiting. I can do that here. Even the autograph hound in me can’t get too amped up about being in the sun all day hoping for the best.

Or is there more to it then that? Are the autographs endless? Is the direct contact with players incredible? Is it just “being there?” Has anyone been?

What made you have a good time?


  1. I love spring training and try to go (from MD) every year, mainly because I'm itching for baseball by then. It's pretty much like watching major league players in a minor league setting. And I need a break from the cold weather.

  2. The two reasons I'd want to go to spring training:

    1) It's the first baseball of the year

    2) getting to see the players in a minor league stadium, where I'd be a lot closer to the field than I normally am for regular season games.

    (I also have the interest and patience to try to figure out who the minor league guys are.)

    Then again, spring training is not important enough to me that I've ever decided to spend the money to head to Florida.

  3. "But, aren’t you pretty much limited to watching them scuttle from one building to another? That sounds like something that would get stale after, oh, an hour."

    This is what spring training is pretty much about - but many of the people are collectors trying to get autographs of the players.

    More established players are somewhat easier to get before the actual spring training games begin.

  4. My reasons for enjoying spring training are 1) It's a trip to Florida in the middle of the winter and a chance to escape the snow, and 2) I just enjoy baseball. I never really go before the games start, but I do like to take in a couple of March games just because I can.

  5. My wife and I traveled to Clearwater in 2005 to watch the Phillies play. It was wonderful and if my work schedule ever permits, it's something I would do again in a heart beat.

    The atmosphere was relaxed, it was sunny, everyone there was a Phillies and/or baseball fan, and everyone was in a great mood. It's basically a way to cheat winter. While we're buried in snow and ice and it's gray in the Northeast, going to Spring Training is a way to escape and get a sneak-preview of the spring and summer to come.

    That being said, I don't remember the games at all. I just remember how good it felt to be sitting in the sun in March, drinking a beer, watching baseball.


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