Fun and Interesting Facts About Baseball's Spring Training

Mar 12 06:36 2011 Carlos Print This Article

It's just about that time of the year again. The smell of fresh cut grass, the crack of a wooden bat making contact with a ball, the sound of leather popping on the back fields. That's right folks, Major League Baseball's Spring Training is just about ready to get started. But where did this great tradition of spring training come from? Unlike most other sports, baseball teams transport their entire operation to a remote location to prepare for the upcoming season. In this article, we're going to tell you all about the history of spring training and give you some fun and interesting facts along the way.

The earliest records of spring training were called barnstorming tours. Major league teams would tour the south and play exhibition games against colleges,Guest Posting semi-pro teams, and occasionally against other professional teams. Many people believe the first spring training, or something similar to it at least, took place around 1870 when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and Chicago White Sox took part in a four day organized baseball camp in New Orleans to prepare for the upcoming season. There are also records of the Washington Capitals participating in camps in 1888 in Jacksonville, FL and the Red Stockings touring the south playing exhibitions games in the same year. However, most teams didn't believe this training warranted out of town travel, and thus they mainly trained in their home cities in the early days with no official spring training leagues like there are today. By as early as the 1890s, however, many teams started training on the road. Although it was unlike today where teams stick one area - most big league clubs would tour several towns putting on exhibition games in order to generate some additional revenue. It was not uncommon for ball players to travel by train through the night and then play exhibition games the following day.

Sometime in the 1920s modern day spring training began to take form. Teams started to settle into certain cities and areas for their training, rather than traveling all around. For instance, the Cardinals trained in Tulsa, OK and Yankees spent time in both New Orleans and Phoenix. Most teams were migrating to warmer weather climates to avoid the wintery weather and prepare for the upcoming season. By the 1940s most major league teams had established a remote spring training facility. Some interesting spots are as follows: The Pirates trained in Hawaii, the Dodgers in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, the Yankees trained in Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the early 1950s, and many other teams held camps and games in northern Mexico along the border during the 1950s and 1960s. One interesting fact to point out is that during World War II, due to not wanted to clog up the trains with traveling, most baseball teams trained close to their home towns again.

Today, there are two main spring training leagues. The Cactus League which is played in Arizona and the Grapefruit League which is played throughout Florida. The Cactus League began hosting games in 1946 when the Indians and Giants made it their home for spring training. All the way up until 1951 they were the only two teams in the league. 1951 was an important year for the Cactus League. The Yankees swapped training sites with their cross town rivals (then the New York Giants) because the owner of the Yankees at the time was a big real estate owner in Arizona and he wanted to see his team play on a daily basis. The Cubs were also having a tough time getting teams to play them in California, so they agreed to play a few games in Arizona that year against the Yankees. During their games against the Yankees, Arizona made a big pitch to lure them to the state and make it their permanent spring training home. The Cubs would eventually agree and now the Cactus League had 3 teams. Through the next several years the league would go on to lure more teams and remained stable with 8 teams participating in it until the late 1980s.

Florida made a big push to pull teams away from Arizona, and the government in the state passed several laws to raise money in order to build new facilities for major league teams to train in. Arizona quickly made adjustments and enacted some laws of their own in order to keep baseball in their state. Spring training baseball is big business for the states, and it makes sense for them to invest in new facilities. Each year millions of fans and tourists make their way to the warm weather climates to get away from the snow and take in a little bit of baseball action.

Check out some fun and interesting facts about spring training below.

  • Fun Fact Pitchers and Catchers have to report to spring training a week earlier than the rest of the team.
  • Fun Fact The Cactus League and Grapefruit League are equally split with 15 major league teams playing in each division.
  • Fun Fact The Atlanta Braves' spring training facility is in Walt Disney World.
  • Interesting Fact The Cactus League generates close to $350 million annually with close to 1.5 million fans attending games.
  • Interesting Fact The Grapefruit League generates an estimated economic impact of $752 million annually with close to 1.4 million fans attending games.
  • Interesting Fact: The New York Yankees lead the way with spring attendance. In 2010, they averaged 10,574 fans per game.

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