Most of the country is blanketed by freezing temperatures, inches much of snow and ice today. It is January and that is what we expect from mother nature this time of year. I thought it only fitting to mention Spring Training. Yes let’s switch our minds to a warmer place one filled with blue skies, green grass, and a place where your winter jacket and ski cap are not required. Instead think of sunscreen, shorts, and flip flops. You can pick Arizona or Florida as your destination and the outcome will be the same. Your eyes will be blinded by how vibrant the colors will seem at either location.
Seven weeks from today the first games will take place in Arizona. Pitchers and catchers will be there by Valentines Day getting their arms warmed up. I will be heading to Arizona to watch the Cactus League action. It will be my first time there as I grew up in Florida and have always been a Grapefruit League attendee.
I grew up running around Dodger town in Vero Beach, Florida with my brothers asking anybody and everybody for an autograph. It was the kind of place and time that allowed my dad just to say meet me here at the car after the game. We were very aware of who was who and always called each player Mr. when asking for them to sign our ball. Each year we would get a little better at figuring out where to go and get quality time with players. We would jump out of our seats when a starter would exit the game after two or three innings and walk the entire way back to the clubhouse with them chatting them up. We knew who wasn’t playing and who would be in the batting cages or working on something outside of the gates. Some games we were so busy we never went in to the game and sat in our seats. There were games we would take beach towels and sit on the outfield grassy hill hoping to catch a home run or grab a foul ball.
I haven’t been to Spring Training in years but I hope it still has that same feel. It was always relaxing as most of the fans there were on vacation. Living in Idaho now I understand why they all left their homes up North to come watch the games. There were a lot of sunburnt noses and shoulders in the seats from the Florida sunshine. It was also a time when the players weren’t so serious with lots of smiles and joking on the field. They were enjoying getting to know their teammates, their coaches and enjoying the sunshine like the rest of us. The pace was a little slower and everybody wants to just enjoy it. Spring Training signals that baseball is back. Just 49 more days.