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The History of Spring Training in Florida

It’s Spring Training! Last year, nearly 1.5 million people headed to Florida to take in a game (with another 1.7 million who went to Arizona). It’s just a week into the season, and with a few weeks left to go, here is some history on Spring Training in Florida.

Spring Training first came to the Grapefruit League in the late nineteenth century, with the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies traveling to Jacksonville to great ready for their upcoming seasons. However, that wasn’t the start of Spring Training quite yet — it still took awhile for the concept to catch on in Florida.

In 1913, the Chicago Cubs held the first game in Tampa, bringing the total to four teams playing in the state for preseason workouts. This was the start of a new league — the Grapefruit League.

Over the subsequent years, more and more teams came to the state for warm weather trainings, getting ready for the regular season in places like St. Petersburg, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers and more. By 1929, 10 of the 16 teams were in Florida for their training season.

However, World War II put a brief hold to Spring Training in Florida — there were travel restrictions in place that didn’t allow teams to travel south to play. After 1946, baseball was back on in Florida during the early spring.

Until 2009, Florida hosted more than half of the Spring Training teams, which are now equally divided between Florida’s Grapefruit League and Arizona’s Cactus League. Currently, these teams train in Florida:

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Houston Astros
  • Miami Marlins
  • Minnesota Twins
  • New York Mets
  • New York Yankees
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Tamba Bay Rays
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Washington Nationals

St. Petersburg and Tampa have both held 87 years of Spring Training seasons, with other cities hosting decades as well. Thirty-five sites have hosted Florida’s Spring Training games, and all but six teams have held their training in Florida.

Share your favorite part of Spring Training in the comments!

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