Dickson: A brief history of spring training: the beginning of World War II

From Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on February 23, 2018:

Hearing the words “pitchers and catchers report” means another baseball season is about to begin. Before the Super Bowl is played, the magic words signify that only so many days remain until the batteries report. The rest of the squad arrives, and soon there is a full slate of exhibition games being staged for the entertainment of the fans, many of whom had headed south for warmer climes.

Teams conduct spring training in camps located in Florida and Arizona and play their games in small ballparks. The camps in Florida are known as the Grapefruit League, and those in Arizona the Cactus League. All of this comes to an end a day or two before Opening Day. With spring training now in full swing, this seems like a good time to take a look at this particular baseball institution. Spring training is loved by fans despite the fact that the games themselves don’t count and the numbers generated are soon forgotten—or, as Joe Carter noted after a lackluster spring in 1993, “They don’t put spring-training statistics on the back of bubble-gum cards.”

When baseball was in its infancy, most teams had their players report to their home parks a week or two before the season started. Despite the cold, players attempted to get into shape, often practicing underneath the grandstands. Many teams moved these sessions to gymnasiums, which was considered a clear competitive advantage.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/brief-history-spring-training-beginning-world-war-ii

Originally published: February 23, 2018. Last Updated: February 23, 2018.