Spring Training Baseball in Fort Myers
Tue, Feb 25th, 2020
Fort Myers, Florida and Spring Training baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly, peanuts and Cracker Jacks and dare we say… apple pie and Chevrolet. Since the mid-1920s, there has only been a total 23 years of Spring without baseball in the City of Palms. Hall of Famers such as Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Roberto Clemente and George Brett all paved the way for today’s greats to entertain the fans of Southwest Florida.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the purpose of Spring Training baseball along with its history in Fort Myers, Florida.
The Purpose of Spring Training
Without a doubt, having future Hall of Fame baseball players perform will put fans in the seats and sell-out minor league stadiums. But this is really icing on the cake in terms of the true meaning of Spring Training. Spring baseball is about up and coming talent being given an opportunity showcase their abilities to coaches, other players and fans. When a young, highly skilled player surpasses expectations, they’ve put themselves in a position to have their ultimate dream come true, making it to the BIG LEAUGES.
But only a select few players earn the chance to play at the Major League level. So, where do the rest of the players go once spring training is over? Each team has what they call a “farm system” where they develop their “mostly” young talent in the Minor Leagues and prepare them for the Major Leagues. There are three levels to Minor League baseball; Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A (Closest level to Major Leagues). Many ball players spend their entire careers playing in the Minors, hoping they will one day get to play for one of the 29 Major league teams.
Spring Training allows fans to be more connected to the game. For example, only 29 cities have Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums. Every Spring Training, small towns across Florida and Arizona host Major League teams, allowing fans who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go a game, get an up-close view of players they usually only see on television. While Fort Myers, Florida has many wonderful features and attractions, it isn’t the home to any professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey or soccer organizations at the highest level. So, when Spring comes around, baseball fans rejoice and jump at the opportunity connect with their favorite players.
The History of Spring Training in Fort Myers
Spring Training baseball has been a staple in the Fort Myers community for nearly a century. Dating back to 1925, organizations such as the Philadelphia Athletics (Currently the Oakland Athletics), Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox have called Fort Myers home throughout the Spring.
If you’re a baseball historian, you know the significance of Terry Park. This is where countless legendary players got their start playing pro baseball. The Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox are the only two teams that are listed above who did not play at Terry Park. The Terry Family purchased 25 acres of cow pasture to build a baseball facility in the hopes of establishing beautiful fields and a great experience for spectators. Originally, it only held 600 people, but as more and more fans migrated to Florida, the stadiums capacity increased to 3,000. Only in recent years, to be reduced back down to 900 seats due to lack of use and wasted space. Today, Terry Park is used to host youth and senior level baseball tournaments. So, the next time you’re at Terry Park, walk by the stadium and visualize all of the greats playing their respective positions. It will help you appreciate the historical importance of this South Florida landmark.
Two Major League Baseball teams currently reside in Fort Myers during the Spring. The Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. Both ball clubs have developed quite a report with the community. The Twins have played Spring baseball in Fort Myers since 1991 and currently play at CenturyLink Sports Complex. While the Red Sox have spent their Spring seasons here since 1993 and compete at JetBlue Park, otherwise known as “Fenway South”.
Spring Training baseball games create a great environment for family and friends to get together and appreciate America’s Pastime. To view the home schedules for both teams this Spring, check out our events page!