With the Superbowl successfully behind us, anxious sports fans are ready for the next season to get started. For baseball fans the wait will be short, as spring training gets underway next week. Spring training is one of the great joys and advantages of a snowbird retirement. Your favorite team is once again in your home town, tickets are affordable and plentiful, and the parks are so close together that you can even travel to road games. Baseball’s owners are no dummies either, they have picked some of the best places to host their spring training camps; most of these towns make the best places to retire lists for lots of other reasons too.
Spring training is thought to have started out in 1870 when the Chicago Whitestockings and the Cincinnati Redstockings ventured down to New Orleans to prepare for the season. Other historians credit the Washington Capitals as having started the spring training movement in 1888, when they organized a 4 day baseball camp in Jacksonville. Whichever version is correct, by the beginning of the 1900’s spring training had become institutionalized in both Florida and Arizona cities.
There are 2 spring training leagues – the Grapefruit League in Florida, and the Cactus League in Arizona (each has 15 teams). In general the east coast teams tend to be in the Grapefruit League and midwestern and western teams are usually, but not always, in the Cactus League. The leagues are split among National and American League teams, which adds to the stew. Teams move around, often because of a better stadium offer. In 2010, for example, the Orioles are moving from Ft. Lauderdale to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The Orioles will replace the Cincinnati Reds, who moved to Goodyear, Arizona for 2010.
In 2010 the first players will report to camp next week (the week of Feb 15). Games begin on March 4 and go through April 4. If you like baseball and are a looking for your retirement town, what better excuse than to tie the 2 activities together in one great scouting trip. Here is a list of where all the teams play, with links to reviews of their host towns where we have them:
Cactus League Mar 3 – Apr 4
Chicago Cubs play at Hohokam Park in Mesa, AZ. There is a referendum for a new $84 million spring facility, the Cubbies plan to stay on if the referendum passes.
Arizona Diamondbacks play at Tucson Electric Park in Tucson. This will be their last year here. They will move to northeast Phoenix in 2011.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox enjoy spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ (northwest suburb of Phoenix). The two teams enjoy a state-of-the-art training facility with an open concourse, and plenty of premium seating.
Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians enjoy the 1 year old Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, AZ. The Reds moved from Sarasota in 2010.
Colorado Rockies play their spring schedule at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, a stadium that’s been around since the 1930’s. It’s their last season in Tucson, next year they moving up the Interstate to Phoenix.
The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals have their games hosted at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, AZ. This stadium opened up in 2003.
LA Angels of Anaheim play in Tempe at the venerable Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Diablo in Tempe was built in 1969 and renovated 2006.
The Milwaukee Brewers will be found at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.
Oakland Athletics are also Phoenix based, their winter home is the Phoenix Municipal Stadium, which dates to 1965.
Another twin bill is found in Peoria, AZ, where the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners share Peoria Stadium, a 12,000 seat facility.
The San Francison Giants are crosstown from their west coast neighbors; they play at the Scottsdale Stadium built in 1992.
The Grapefruit League
Atlanta Braves enjoy their games at Champion Stadium Capacity in Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando.
The Baltimore Orioles moved to Sarasota‘s Ed Smith Stadium (Capacity 7,500 and built in 1989). The Orioles were in Ft Lauderdale in 2009.
Boston Red Sox have their games at the City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers.
Detroit’s Tigers enjoy Lakeland as their home. Their games are played at Joker Marchant Stadium, one of the smaller venues with 8,000 seats. It was renovated in 2003.
The Florida Marlins share Roger Dean Stadium with the St. Louis Cardinals This east coast stadium is in the very nice town of Jupiter.
Houston Astros are in Kissimmee (near Orlando). They play at the Osceola County Stadium, which opened in 1984 with a capacity.
Another team with Ft. Myers spring training is the Minnesota Twins. Their games are at Hammond Stadium.
Those amazin’ NY Mets get ready for the season at Port St. Lucie‘s Tradition Field, where they have been since 1988. Port St. Lucie is a new town and one of the fastest growing anywhere.
The New York Yankees are across the Sunshine State in Tampa. Interestingly, they play at Steinbrenner Field, a venue dating from 1996.
The Philadelphia Phillies are nearby in Clearwater, where they play at Bright House Networks Field (2004).
Pittsburgh Pirates conduct spring training in Bradenton’s McKechnie Field.
The Tampa Bay Rays head south about 100 miles to Port Charlotte and the Charlotte County Sports Park, which has a capacity of 7,000 and was renovated in 2008-2009.
The Toronto Blue Jays are in the little town of Dunedin. Their games are played at FL Dunedin Stadium.
Finally, the Washington Nationals enjoy an east coast spring training in Melbourne. Their spring venue is the Space Coast Stadium.
For further information:
Spring Training Online
The history of spring training
What do you think? Do you have a favorite spring training town? One that might make a best place to retire? Let us know in the comments section below.