Spring Training is here! If you are a baseball fan, and you haven’t been to Spring Training, you are cheating yourself out of a great time. Having spent several years in Florida, this time of year is my make up for not being able to see my team during the season. I have never been to Arizona for spring, so I can’t speak for that experience.
The title, Thanks Dave, is for my co-worker and friend who is a big time baseball fan (albeit a Cardinal one). Every year we take in some games, and he takes it upon himself to buy the tickets and drives myself and another colleague. Sometimes the drive there is as much fun as the game we see! Whenever we see something memorable at the game, we say in unison Thanks Dave – so that’s where the title comes from.
If you decide to make the trip to Florida, here are a couple simple rules that can save you from saying Damn, how could I be so stupid!
Rule #1 – Wear sunscreen. It sounds crazy, but if you are not use to the Florida sun (especially northeasterners) it can ruin your trip. You can always spot the fans that had a great day before- they are bright red and look miserable during the current game. If you have kids, not following this rule for them can kill your trip altogether.
Rule #2 – Plan on more than a single game. Believe me, the atmosphere is so relaxed, you’ll beat yourself up for seeing just one game. I say a week, but if you can’t do that, at least Thursday through Sunday. Also, if you are going to see the “regulars” avoid split squad games and if you have to go to those games go to the home ones as veterans usually opt of of traveling. Moreover, go to games later (rather then the first week or so) in the spring, as managers thin out the roster by then and try to get regulars ready for their position in the lineup (with other starters around them).
Rule #3 – Visit other sites. Regardless of your team, there are easily two to three other places that you could visit – each of which gives something cool to experience. Here is a map of the sites, and staying close to one stadium really isn’t too much of an issue since game day traffic is usually not a big deal. http://www.floridaspringtraining.com/
Rule #4 – If you are interested in player autographs, get there early and stay late. Players sign early before the game and after when they are leaving. Very few sign during the game, unless they are veterans who are doing some running drills – but even that is becoming rare. I have several stories about such experiences (as a kid) that I will post later on – some funny and some off the wall (it was the mid 1980s). If you are a fan of the visiting team, wait by the visitor’s clubhouse and find their bus. If you are visiting central Florida, Viera has a practice field outside the stadium and players have to walk right through the incoming crowds to the main field.
Rule #5 – Be prepared for anything (especially if you are an autograph seeker). Spring games are not like regular season games in several ways. I’ve been to games where players, especially pitchers, were walking around the stands in street clothes and people did not even recognize them. You can also bump into former players, coaches, scouts, and management. I usually talk to Omar once a year (a ritual). I’ve also met and chatted with Ed Coleman.
Have fun and if you have additional tips, post them.
Posted by Gene Anthony