Batter Up!

Few things announce the arrival of spring in Florida quite like the crack of the bat, cheering fans and vendors peddling peanuts. Since the late 19th century, many Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises have favored sites in Florida to conduct their annual spring training exercises.

Babe Ruth in Jacksonville for spring training (1920s)

Babe Ruth in Jacksonville for spring training (1920s)

Spring training in Florida really took off in the early 20th century. During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, practically every burgeoning town courted MLB franchises as part of their efforts to lure tourists and permanent residents. The biggest names in the game, such as Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, graced the sun-drenched diamonds across Florida each spring.

Willie Mays in St. Petersburg for spring training (ca. 1972)

Willie Mays in St. Petersburg for spring training (ca. 1972)

Although several MLB teams have moved their spring training facilities to Arizona, Florida continues to host spring training and minor league baseball every season.

Brooklyn Dodgers in Vero Beach for spring training (ca. 1950)

Brooklyn Dodgers in Vero Beach for spring training (ca. 1950)

Lindsey Responds:

Hey, wait a minute, Jon! You’re forgetting some very important ball players – the ladies of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. In 1948, members of the Chicago Colleens, Fort Wayne Daisies, South Bend Blue Sox, Peoria Redwings, Rockford Peaches and Springfield Sallies participated in spring training exercises in Opa-locka, Florida; and the Florida Department of Commerce was there to capture it on film. Check it out!

Marie Wegman of the Fort Wayne Daisies arguing with umpire Norris Ward

Marie Wegman of the Fort Wayne Daisies arguing with umpire Norris Ward


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Put Me In, Coach!

In a tradition a century old, major league baseball teams are reporting to spring training camps in Florida (the Grapefruit League) and Arizona (the Cactus League) to prepare for the upcoming season.

Babe Ruth in a spring training game: Miami, Florida, March 16, 1920

Babe Ruth in a spring training game: Miami, Florida, March 16, 1920

Cleveland Indians spring training: Lakeland, Florida, between 1924-1927

Cleveland Indians spring training: Lakeland, Florida, between 1924-1927

Batting practice at Brooklyn Dodgers training camp in Vero Beach, between March 22-24, 1949

Batting practice at Brooklyn Dodgers training camp in Vero Beach, between March 22-24, 1949

Spring training game in Lakeland, Florida, March 1967

Spring training game in Lakeland, Florida, March 1967

Florida Marlins spring training game, 1993

Florida Marlins spring training game, 1993

Houston Astros spring training game in Kissimmee, Florida, 1980s

Houston Astros spring training game in Kissimmee, Florida, 1980s