It’s America’s National Pastime and a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. The month of March brings spring training, the prelude to the annual baseball season. Along with Arizona, Florida is the traditional place where baseball teams train for the coming season. Other than Panama City, every Bluegreen resort in the Sunshine State is within an hour’s drive of the winter and spring home of a big league ball club. Each club plays a full schedule of games throughout the month of March.
Here’s where your favorite team plays
Bradenton is the spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clearwater hosts the Philadelphia Phillies. Dunedin is where Canada’s Toronto Blue Jays play. Fort Myers hosts the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Seems odd, but even the Miami Marlins train in Florida, in the town of Jupiter, along with the St. Louis Cardinals. Atlanta’s Braves spend their spring at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista. Lakeland hosts Detroit’s Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays can be found in Port Charlotte. The New York Mets practice in Port St. Lucie. Sarasota hosts Baltimore’s Orioles. Tampa is the winter home of the legendary New York Yankees. The Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals now make their spring stands at a new stadium in West Palm Beach.
Some spring training games will sell out early, though seats will often be available on game day from the box office or people planted near the stadium with extra tickets. You can purchase seats online, usually starting in mid-January.
What to expect
Keep in mind that these exhibition games are mainly for the teams to evaluate new talent and to provide opportunities for veterans to shed their off-season rust. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see each team’s superstars; starting pitchers, in fact, usually go for only three innings per game. But there’s an excellent chance you’ll see players from your team’s minor league affiliate who wind up with the big club by season’s end.
Each stadium sells peanuts, hot dogs, burgers, chicken, beer, soft drinks, cotton candy, lemonade and other refreshments. Fans are friendly and an upbeat ambiance prevails. It’s a great way to spend an evening or afternoon!
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