If you woke up in Milwaukee on March 4th, 2019, this was the weather you walked out the door to feel:
It’s not exactly the weather that will put you in a good mood. After a long, harsh winter, the bitter cold continues to hang around. With Opening Day only 22 days away, it is hard to think about baseball with mountains of snow all over the place. Meanwhile in Phoenix, Az:
It must be nice. Sunny and high 60s sounds way better than sunny and negative wind chill. While the weather may be a big benefit of going to Spring Training (especially if you have family that gets dragged along but doesn’t enjoy baseball), there are so many more great reasons to go to Spring Training if you are a die-hard baseball fan.
Spring training is not just about seeing live baseball before Opening Day. Spring Training is a chance for the fans to personally meet and talk to the players, especially the prospects who are not with the pro team yet. The players are always available to sign memorabilia when they are not busy practicing. If you have young kids they are excited to get a signature from just about any player in uniform, even those late round draft picks who are struggling not to get cut. If you want to get a star’s signature, however, they tend to be tough to get to. There is generally a big crowd around them as soon as they leave the practice field. That is usually the best chance of receiving their signature.
Pro tip* Instead of going to the actual game where the big league players are, go to the practice fields. There you will likely get to see the GM of the teams and other front office executives. You will be able to speak with scouts and learn more about the up and coming players as well as the game itself.
Pro tip #2* Try to book the hotel that the players stay at. In Surprise, Az, for example, the Rangers and Royals both stay at the two hotels right across from the complex. You get to talk with the players at breakfast, in the elevators, and in the pool.
You Get to Explore:
Whether it be in the Grapefruit League in Florida or the Cactus League in Arizona, explore the surrounding area. Don’t just stay put in your home team’s complex. Go all over and see how each facility is unique. Make special notice of how each facility shows attributes of the real big league stadium. For example, the Red Sox park in Florida has a mini Green Monster like the one in Fenway. Likewise, the Brewers continue the sausage races as they would at Miller Park. As mentioned earlier, go explore the state itself. Take an airboat ride through the Everglades in Florida before a Sox game or go visit Arizona State University in Tempe before a Cubs game. While there is a full days’ potential in hanging around the ballpark all day, it is worth it to explore the surrounding areas as well.
Go to Night Games:
Where ever it may be, go check out a night game. The sunset in Arizona is beautiful and the temperature can be a lot more comfortable than during the day. The atmosphere tends to have a more important feel about it as if the game means more. It is a great time to really relax and be in the moment with family and friends.
Being With Other Fans:
Spring Training will bring a lot of die-hard fans out. These are the people who will save weeks of vacation at work just to take off for two weeks in Florida or Arizona. The good part about this is to banter with other fans. You get other perspectives on your team and can get into deeper conversations you generally do not have back home. You can even you to rival stadiums and have great debates. People are always up for talking about baseball at Spring Training!
There is always more to learn about the game. If you knew it all, you should be on the field coaching or running a team in the front office. Spring Training is a time that even the pros need to work on the fundamentals. If you have kids this is the perfect place to teach them the right ways to fundamentally play the game. As an adult, you continue to pick up on new things the players do that you may have never noticed before.
If the weather in the northern states is not enough reason to leave for a few day vacation to watch baseball down south, hopefully these other reasons are enough to convince you to go. The camaraderie that exists among fans and players during Spring Training is unlike anything you see during the regular season. If you are a baseball fan, there is no better experience than this.
Check out first-hand experience from the Miller Park Minute at Brewers spring training: