Visit to Florida for Spring Training Baseball

Mar 13th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,365
Visit to Florida for Spring Training Baseball

After a long (and still on-going) miserable winter in CT, I finally got out of here for 10 days to Florida to see my parents and go to a few Spring Training games. I stayed at my parents so no review of a hotel needed...I am just going to post about restaurants / stadiums / activities.

Flight down on March 1 was non-eventful and got out of Bradley and into Ft Myers on time on Southwest. It was a direct flight and was not full. However, Ft Myers airport was slammed when I got there and the security line due to it being in-season and a Saturday was very long for departures. The only impact to me was it took ~45 minutes to get my suitcase.

On Sunday morning, I got up and went to the North Jetty in Nokomis, FL just to walk on the beach and actually enjoy the sun! It felt great walking around there. Saw a few dolphins and other fish from the Jetty. Lots of boats in and out. Spent a few hours here just walking around.

Monday, my Dad and I went to the Phillies @ Rays game in Pt Charlotte. 10 minutes from my parents house so nice and convenient. I really enjoy this stadium. There is a boardwalk that goes around the outfield with a tiki bar in the middle. Good selection of food and drink throughout the park and decent seats. We sat in the shade behind the 3B side. This crowd was mostly Phillies fans. Rays won in a close game

Wednesday, it was back to Charlotte Sports Park for a Yankees @ Rays game. Much bigger crowd and more animated because it was the Yankees in town. And of course, I had my Red Sox hat on. Had seats down the 1B line and again enjoyed the stadium. Rays beat up the Yankees so it was fun to watch

On Friday, it was on to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota for the Phillies @ Orioles game. This is a newly renovated stadium that has been home to multiple teams now. I like this stadium but it definitely feels older. The Orioles have done a lot to improve it but it does not have the 360° access around the field. We had really good seats as we were 3 rows behind the Phillies dugout. Decent food and beer selection here as well. Enjoyed a few cold ones as it was a hot day. Was hoping that they had some other beers from Maryland but mostly local beers for micro brews (good selection though). You could tell it was Spring Training as the scoreboard operator mistakenly changed the score to 29-4 Orioles when it was only 15-4 Orioles...Lots of long home runs hit. It could be a long year for the Phillies again.

On Monday, I went to Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda. Its right on Charlotte Harbor and has a great view of the water. Peace River Wildlife Center is also there. Small animal rescue facility that you can visit. Its got many birds ranging from doves to Bald Eagles. Their 2 eagles have lived in captivity due to their injuries for around 20 years apiece. Was here for around 30 minutes and its worth a stop. Lots of non-resident birds make visits too - around feeding time. They have a few hawks to see too. I really enjoyed this stop here.

When I left here, I went to Laishley Crab House for lunch. Great view of the Bridge and Harbor from here. Lunch was ok but service was very slow. It was busy so I didn't make an objection to it though.

On Tuesday, we headed to Jetblue Park for Marlins @ Red Sox then I had to fly home. I really like Jetblue and relished the sun. We had great seats 3 rows off of the field down the RF Line. Since Jetblue has the same field dimensions as Fenway, the seats face the same angles. This is somewhat a drawback until you get to the RF corner and it is a picnic area. Great atmosphere here this year compared to last as everybody was still celebrating the World Series win!. Sox lost this game on a homer in the 9th but the regulars looked good and are getting ready for the year.

I reluctantly went to RSW after the game and flew home getting home around midnight with a sunburn / tan that has made a lot of people angry and jealous. Great trip and time to plan another one!

Spring Training games definitely feel different and more relaxed than regular season games so they are fun to go to and very enjoyable.
tchoiniere is offline  
Mar 13th, 2014, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 155
Thanks for a great trip report. Am printing it off for S.O. who has been talking for years about going to some spring training games. This should inspire him (it almost even inspired me!)
Nepheline is offline  
Mar 20th, 2014, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 130
Detroit Tigers spring train in Lakeland where I am from. If you are a baseball fan and can get away spring training is the best. Most of the players are laid back, they don't mind signing autographs, it's a whole different ball game (pun intended).

When my boys were little we would go and spend hours hanging out by the locker room to get autographs, batting gloves, whatever the players would give to them. It is one of their fondest childhood memories.
MollyinFL is offline  
Mar 20th, 2014, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,018
A few years ago, I went to the Kansas City A's spring training, near Kissimmee, Florida (I forget the name of the town, it was something like Baseball City, Fl). I was speaking very casually with Gary Gaetti, and I asked if he was ever in Gaeta, Italy, which is close sounding with his name. We were having a great conversation, as Molly points out, when George Brett walked by. I called to him "Mr. Brett, would you autograph a couple of baseballs for my grandsons, which he gracefully did, and I also had a nice conversation with him also. After he left our conversation with Gary Gaetti, Gaetti said to me, "why did you call him Mr. Brett and you call me Gary?" I answered to Gary, "When you have a career like Brett's, I'll call you Mister also. Gary got a laugh over that.
Waldo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 08:50 AM
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Waldo, that would have been more than a few years ago for the Kansas City A's...I know its the Royals. It was definitely Baseball City.

Great examples of why Spring Training is such a relaxed atmosphere and so much fun.
tchoiniere is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,018
tchoiniere- you are absolutely correct. It was the KC Royals. I'm dating myself by calling them the A's. I also remember that day I fetched six baseballs, since the stands were practically empty. (they are not so now). The balls were all hit by Wally Joiner, who was a pretty decent ball player.
Waldo is offline  
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