Spring training

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A 1994 Grapefruit League game at the LA Dodgers' former camp in Vero Beach, Florida Spring training.jpg
A 1994 Grapefruit League game at the LA Dodgers' former camp in Vero Beach, Florida

In Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives established players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warm climates of Arizona and Florida to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.

Schedule (workplace) list of employees who are working on any given day

A schedule, often called a rota or roster, is a list of employees, and associated information e.g. location, working times, responsibilities for a given time period e.g. week, month or sports season.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Contents

Spring training typically starts in mid-February and continues until just before Opening Day of the regular season, which falls in the last week of March. In some years, teams not scheduled to play on Opening Day will play spring training games that day. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A few days later, position players arrive and team practice begins. Exhibition games usually begin around the first of March.

Opening Day Day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season

Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. For Major League Baseball and most of the minor leagues, this day typically falls during the first week of April.

Exhibition game sporting event wherein the result has no external impact

An exhibition game is a sporting event whose prize money and impact on the player's or the team's rankings is either zero or otherwise greatly reduced. In team sports, matches of this type are often used to help coaches and managers select and condition players for the competitive matches of a league season or tournament. If the players usually play in different teams in other leagues, exhibition games offer an opportunity for the players to learn to work with each other. The games can be held between separate teams or between parts of the same team.

History

Boston Red Sox players in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1912 Boston Red Sox players in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for Spring Training.jpg
Boston Red Sox players in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1912

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Spring training by major league teams in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 was in wide use. Hot Springs, Arkansas, has been called the original "birthplace" of spring training baseball. The location of Hot Springs and the concept of getting the players ready for the upcoming season was the brainchild of Chicago White Stockings (today's Chicago Cubs) team President Albert Spalding and Cap Anson. In 1886, the White Stockings traveled to Hot Springs to prepare for the upcoming season. [1] [2] After holding spring training at the Hot Springs Baseball Grounds, the White Stockings went on to have a successful season and other teams took notice. In subsequent years other teams joined Chicago and began holding spring training in Hot Springs, leading to the first spring training games. [2] The Cleveland Spiders, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox followed the White Stockings to Hot Springs. Whittington Field/Ban Johnson Park (1894), Majestic Park (1909), and Fogel Field (1912) were all built in Hot Springs to host Major League teams. [3] [4]

Hot Springs, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Hot Springs is a city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.

Chicago Cubs Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The Chicago Cubs are an American professional baseball team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. The team plays its home games at Wrigley Field, located on the city's North Side. The Cubs are one of two major league teams in Chicago; the other, the Chicago White Sox, is a member of the American League (AL) Central division. The Cubs, first known as the White Stockings, were a founding member of the NL in 1876, becoming the Chicago Cubs in 1903.

Albert Spalding American pitcher, manager and business executive

Albert Goodwill Spalding was an American pitcher, manager, and executive in the early years of professional baseball, and the co-founder of A.G. Spalding sporting goods company. He was born and raised in Byron, Illinois. He played major league baseball between 1871 and 1878. Spalding set a trend when he started wearing a baseball glove.

1885 Chicago White Stockings (known today as the Chicago Cubs) 1885 Chicago White Stockings.jpg
1885 Chicago White Stockings (known today as the Chicago Cubs)
Babe Ruth hit a 573-foot home run in spring training, 1918. He led the league with 11 home runs and had a 13-7 record as the Red Sox won the 1918 World Series. Babe Ruth Red Sox 1918.jpg
Babe Ruth hit a 573-foot home run in spring training, 1918. He led the league with 11 home runs and had a 13–7 record as the Red Sox won the 1918 World Series.

Famously, on St. Patrick's Day, 1918, a young successful pitcher named Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox was forced to play an emergency game at first base in a spring training game against Pittsburgh. This game possibly changed the course of baseball history, as it was the first time Ruth had ever played any position other than pitcher. Ruth responded by hitting two home runs that day in Hot Springs, and the second was a 573-foot shot that landed across the street from Whittington Park in a pond of the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. The Red Sox took notice and soon Ruth was playing the field more often. [5] [6] [7] Over 130 Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, including such names as Ruth, Cy Young, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Dizzy Dean, Jimmie Foxx, and Stan Musial all trained in Hot Springs Spring Training. [8] The First Boys of Spring is a 2015 documentary about Hot Springs Spring Training. The film was narrated by area native, actor Billy Bob Thornton, and produced by filmmaker Larry Foley. [9] [10] [11] The documentary began airing nationally on the MLB Network in February 2016. [12]

Saint Patricks Day Cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March

Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Babe Ruth American baseball player

George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter still stands as of 2019. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.

Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo

The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo is a privately owned zoo located on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Early training sites include the St. Louis Cardinals in Hot Springs and Tulsa, Oklahoma; the New York Yankees in New Orleans and later Phoenix, Arizona, when the team was owned by Del Webb; the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles when owned by William Wrigley Jr.; the St. Louis Browns and later the Kansas City Athletics in San Diego and then in West Palm Beach, Florida; the Pittsburgh Pirates in Honolulu and other teams joined in by the early 1940s. The Detroit Tigers are credited with being the first team to conduct spring training camp in Arizona. They trained in Phoenix at Riverside Park at Central Avenue and the Salt River in 1929. [13]

St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team in St. Louis, Missouri, United States

The St. Louis Cardinals are an American professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. Busch Stadium has been their home ballpark since 2006. One of the most successful franchises in baseball history, the Cardinals have won 11 World Series championships, the second-most in Major League Baseball and the most in the National League. Their 19 National League pennants rank third in NL history. In addition, St. Louis has won 13 division titles in the East and Central divisions.

Tulsa, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 45th-most populous city in the United States. As of July 2016, the population was 413,505, an increase of 12,591 over that reported in the 2010 Census. It is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 991,005 residents in the MSA and 1,251,172 in the CSA. The city serves as the county seat of Tulsa County, the most densely populated county in Oklahoma, with urban development extending into Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner counties.

New York Yankees Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in the Bronx, New York, United States

The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The Yankees compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. They are one of two major league clubs based in New York City, the other being the New York Mets of the National League. In the 1901 season, the club began play in the AL as the Baltimore Orioles. Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the franchise and moved it to New York City, renaming the club the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders were officially renamed the Yankees in 1913.

Founding of the Grapefruit League

The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the current major-league teams to train in Florida, when they spent two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida in 1889. [14] Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs trained in Tampa and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League. Except for a couple of years during World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Florida hosted more than half of the spring training teams through 2009. Since 2010, major league teams have been equally divided between Arizona and Florida during spring training, with 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona. [15] All but six of the major league teams have gone to spring training in Florida at one time or another. Many of the most famous players in baseball history (Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Cobb, Mays, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and many more) have called Florida home for 4–6 weeks every spring. [16]

Philadelphia Phillies Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

The Philadelphia Phillies are an American professional baseball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. Since 2004, the team's home has been Citizens Bank Park, located in South Philadelphia.

Jacksonville, Florida Largest city in Florida

Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, the most populous city in the southeastern United States and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968. Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits. As of 2017 Jacksonville's population was estimated to be 892,062. The Jacksonville metropolitan area has a population of 1,523,615 and is the fourth largest in Florida.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Founding of the Cactus League

A 2007 Cactus League game between the Cubs and the White Sox at HoHoKam Park SpringTrainingHoHoKamPark.jpg
A 2007 Cactus League game between the Cubs and the White Sox at HoHoKam Park

According to the autobiography of former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck, the avoidance of racism was one reason the Cactus League was established. [17] In 1947, Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and the team trained in Ocala, Florida. Veeck inadvertently sat in the Black section of the segregated stands and engaged in conversation with a couple of fans. According to Veeck's book, the local law enforcement told Veeck he could not sit in that section, and then called the Ocala mayor when Veeck argued back. The mayor finally backed down when Veeck threatened to take his team elsewhere for spring training and promised to let the country know why.

Veeck sold the Brewers in 1945 and temporarily retired to a ranch in Tucson, Arizona, but purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946. Intending to introduce African-American players, Veeck decided to buck tradition and train the Indians in Tucson and convinced the New York Giants to give Phoenix a try. Thus the Cactus League was born. [18] In 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby to the Indians. Doby was the second African-American to play MLB in the 20th century, and the first in the American League. [19]

Arizona had eight teams in the Cactus League in 1989, with the other eighteen in Florida. [20] By 2018, the split was even, with 15 teams training in each location.

Other spring training sites

While Florida and Arizona now host all Major League Baseball teams for spring training, this has not always been the case. Especially in the early 20th century, baseball clubs did not build facilities dedicated to spring training and would use local facilities in various cities, sometimes changing spring training sites on an annual basis. The Cleveland Indians, for example, held spring trainings in seven different cities - including New Orleans, Dallas, and Macon, Georgia - between 1902 and 1922. This was not uncommon at the time. [21]

A Braves spring training game against the Mets in 2008 Braves spring training2008.png
A Braves spring training game against the Mets in 2008

During World War II, most teams held an abbreviated spring training within easy reach of their cities. In order to conserve rail transport during the war, 1943's Spring Training was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The Chicago White Sox held camp in French Lick, Indiana; the Washington Senators in College Park, Maryland; and the New York Yankees in Asbury Park, New Jersey. [22]

After World War II, some teams trained outside of the United States. The Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, and in the Dominican Republic in 1948. [23] The New York Yankees also trained in the early 1950s in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Spring training camps and games were also held in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and various cities of northern Mexico, sometimes by visiting major league teams in the 1950s and 1960s.

Before and shortly after big league baseball reached the West Coast, a number of teams trained in the state of California or along the state line. The Chicago Cubs trained on Catalina Island in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. For example, early in their history, the then-California Angels held spring training in Palm Springs, California from 1961 to 1993, the San Diego Padres in Yuma, Arizona from 1969 to 1993, the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas in the 1970s, and various major league teams had trained in El Centro, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

International spring training

The concept of spring training is not limited to North America; the Japanese professional baseball leagues' teams adopted spring training and preseason game sites across East Asia such as South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan; the Pacific Islands (most notably in Hawaii); and two cities in the United States: Salinas, California and Yuma, Arizona on the Mexican border.

Spring training locations by team

Generally, teams train in either Florida or Arizona based on their geographic location in the U.S., with eastern teams playing in Florida and western teams training in Arizona; the exceptions being the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and the two Chicago-based teams all training in Arizona; and the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals training in Florida. The last west-coast team to train in Florida was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who moved to Arizona in 2009.

In modern training, teams that train in Florida will play other Florida-training teams in their exhibition games, regardless of regular-season league affiliations. Likewise, Arizona-training teams will play other Arizona teams. These have been nicknamed the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively, after plants typical of the respective states.

Spring training teams can play colleges, minor league baseball clubs, intra-squad games (members of the same team play against each other), split-squad games (games when one team is scheduled for two games in one day, so the team splits into two squads and each squad plays in one of the games), and B Games (unofficial Spring Training games where statistics and standings are not counted). [24] In years when the World Baseball Classic occurs, the national teams in the tournament prepare by playing major league teams. The players union will sometimes field a team if many free agents are unsigned by the start of spring training. [25]

Grapefruit League

USA Florida location map.svg
Current Grapefruit League team locations:
  One team
  Two teams

The origin of the name "Grapefruit League" has several versions. One popular myth was that Casey Stengel threw a grapefruit at Brooklyn Dodgers manager Wilbert Robinson. The accepted version is that aviator Ruth Law threw the grapefruit. In 1915, Law had been throwing golf balls from her airplane to advertise a golf course. Someone suggested throwing a baseball from her airplane. Robinson, whose team was in the Daytona Beach area for spring training, agreed to try to catch the baseball. Flying 525 feet above Robinson, Law realized she had forgotten her baseball and threw a grapefruit that she had. When Robinson tried to catch it, the grapefruit exploded in his face, at first leading him to believe he had been seriously injured. [26] [27] [28]

The list of spring training locations by team in the Grapefruit League in Florida. [29]

TeamBallparkCity
Atlanta Braves Champion Stadium Lake Buena Vista
Baltimore Orioles Ed Smith Stadium Sarasota
Boston Red Sox JetBlue Park at Fenway South Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium Lakeland
Houston Astros FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches West Palm Beach
Miami Marlins Roger Dean Stadium Jupiter
Minnesota Twins Hammond Stadium Fort Myers
New York Mets First Data Field Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees George M. Steinbrenner Field Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies Spectrum Field Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates LECOM Park Bradenton
St. Louis Cardinals Roger Dean Stadium Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays Charlotte Sports Park Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin Stadium Dunedin
Washington Nationals FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches West Palm Beach

Upcoming moves

TeamBallparkCity
Atlanta Braves CoolToday Park North Port, Florida

In January 2017, the Braves announced a formal agreement to move their spring training facilities to North Port, Florida; [30] the move is now planned for 2020. [31] The team plans to play one game at their new spring ballpark during spring training in 2019, on March 24. [32]

Cactus League

Unlike the Grapefruit League, teams in the Cactus League often share stadiums; of the 15 teams who train in Arizona, only the Cubs, Angels, Brewers, Giants and A's have their own home stadiums. The Cactus league teams are all within the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The newest stadium built for MLB spring training is Sloan Park, the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona, which opened in February 2014.

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. The Arizona Republic newspaper reports that more than $500 million has been spent on "building eight new stadiums and renovating two others for the 15 teams in the Valley." [33]

Attendance set a new record at 2011 Cactus League games with 1.59 million attending games at the various stadiums in the Phoenix metro area. Much of the attendance surge is attributed to the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick venue that accounted for 22 percent of the Cactus League attendance. [34]

The list of spring training locations by team in the Cactus League in Arizona. [29]

TeamBallparkCity
Arizona Diamondbacks Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Chicago Cubs Sloan Park Mesa
Chicago White Sox Camelback Ranch Glendale
Cincinnati Reds Goodyear Ballpark Goodyear
Cleveland Indians Goodyear Ballpark Goodyear
Colorado Rockies Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Kansas City Royals Surprise Stadium Surprise
Los Angeles Angels Tempe Diablo Stadium Tempe
Los Angeles Dodgers Camelback Ranch Glendale
Milwaukee Brewers American Family Fields of Phoenix Phoenix
Oakland Athletics Hohokam Stadium Mesa
San Diego Padres Peoria Sports Complex Peoria
San Francisco Giants Scottsdale Stadium Scottsdale
Seattle Mariners Peoria Sports Complex Peoria
Texas Rangers Surprise Stadium Surprise

Statistics

Statistics are recorded during spring training games, but they are not combined with the listed statistics for regular season games, and unusual performances which would have broken records if accomplished during the regular season are considered to be unofficial.

For example, on March 14, 2000, the Red Sox used six pitchers to achieve a 5–0 perfect game victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. A perfect game is considered a crowning accomplishment during the regular season or postseason, but in spring training it attracts little notice. Starting pitcher Pedro Martínez, who lost a perfect game in extra innings in 1995 while pitching for the former Montreal Expos, was talking to reporters at the conclusion of the game, rather than watching the final pitches. Reliever Rod Beck, who finished the game, did not realize the nature of his accomplishment until informed by catcher Joe Sidall. Many fans also left before the game's conclusion. [35]

Although spring training statistics are unofficial, teams frequently use players' spring training performances as a way of assigning starting roles and roster spots on the club.

An extended spring training game between the Red Sox and Orioles in Sarasota, Florida, during the 2008 season Red sox orioles xst.jpg
An extended spring training game between the Red Sox and Orioles in Sarasota, Florida, during the 2008 season

Extended spring training

Minor league players participate in spring training following a telescoped schedule that generally lasts from March 1–31. At its conclusion, most players are assigned to full-season Class A, AA, or AAA farm team rosters to begin the regular minor league season. However, those players deemed unready for a full-season campaign—through inexperience or injury—are assigned to "extended spring training", a structured program of workouts, rehabilitation sessions, simulated games, and exhibition games based in the major league parent team's minor league training complex. If a player is deemed ready to participate in full-season league action, he is promoted to an appropriate-level farm club. When the "short season" Class A and rookie leagues begin play in late June, extended spring training players are assigned to those rosters, placed on the injured list (formerly the disabled list), or released.

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Further reading