Warm Up at Spring Training

The Cactus League in Arizona is a $300 million a year business, according to newspaper reports.

Arizona Travel photo/The Cactus League in Arizona is a $300 million a year business, according to newspaper reports.

By Glen Sparks

By now, just about every major leaguer is either in the desert or near the sea. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and winter is far from sight. Florida and Arizona have it good.

Spring training is the time to shake off some rust, get ready to play a full 162, and marvel at the break on a young phenom’s curveball. Fans slap on some sunscreen and cheer for their team once again, following the news and notes from another wintertime Hot Stove League.

An article on the Hardball Times web site explains how spring training started, 146 years ago. The Cincinnati Reds began the tradition, going down to New Orleans in 1869. The Washington Senators were the first team to head for Florida. They went to Jacksonville in 1888.

By the 1920s, team like the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies were packing up to spend March in the sunnier climes of Florida rather than in their home cities. St. Petersburg landed the biggest baseball prize in 1925 when the Yankees and Babe Ruth agreed to train in that Gulf city.

At one time, teams shook off the winter in places like Hot Springs, Ark., and on Catalina Island, off the southern California. Now, teams train in either the Grapefruit League in Florida or the Cactus League in Arizona.

Writer Alex Skillin offers many interesting details in his piece. Take a look at it. You’ll feel a little bit warmer.

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