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There is nothing in all of American sport quite like baseball's spring training. This annual six-week ritual, whose origins date back nearly a century and a half, fires the hearts and imaginations of fans who flock by the hundreds of thousands to places like Dodgertown to glimpse superstars and living legends in a relaxed moment and watch the drama of journeyman veterans and starry-eyed kids in search of that last spot on the bench. In Under the March Sun, Charles Fountain recounts for the first time the full and fascinating history of spring training.
1869 New York politico William Marcy "Boss" Tweed sends the amateur New York Mutuals to New Orleans, the first recorded instance of a baseball teams heading south for spring training. No record exists of whether or not the trip was paid for with money Tweed extorted from city contractors, but that would be the smart-money bet.
1885 Cap Anson takes a newspaper reporter along when he brings the Chicago White Stockings to Hot Springs Arkansas. The news stories, and the White Stockings subsequent success, popularize the idea of southern spring training trips and soon all big league teams are taking them, with reporters along to send stories back to the chilly north.
1920s The Grapefruit League is born. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Al Lang works to consolidate all of spring training in Florida, attracting the Braves and the Yankees to his city, and helping attract nearly a dozen other major league teams to long-term spring home in other Florida cities.
1934 The Detroit Tigers train for the first time in Lakeland, Florida, where, but for the World War II years, they have trained ever since. It is the longest continuous association between a major league team and its spring training city.
1943-45 Wartime travel restrictions force Major League Baseball to hold spring training within fifty miles of teams' home cities.
1947 The Cleveland Indians and New York Giants move their spring trainings to Tucson and Phoenix Arizona, becoming the first teams to regularly train in Arizona, beginning what will ultimately become the Cactus League.
1948 The Brooklyn Dodgers hold spring training at an abandoned Naval Air Station in Vero Beach, Florida. The complex is soon known as Dodgertown, and the site will remain the team's home for 61 springs.
1952 The Chicago Cubs move their spring training to Mesa, Arizona, ending a 30-year stay on Catalina Island, California.
1965 Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley buys Dodgertown from the City of Vero Beach. He pays $130,000 for the stadium, practice fields, naval air barracks and 110 acres. The Dodgers become the only team to ever own its spring training complex. In 2001, under new ownership, the team will sell the complex back to the city and county, and lease it back for their final eight seasons in Florida.
1977 The Florida legislature passes a law allowing counties to impose a 1 or 2 percent Tourist Development Tax on hotel stays, the money to be used to stimulate and support tourism in the counties. In 1985, Osceola County uses money raised from this "bed tax" to build a new spring training complex for the Houston Astros. Over the next fifteen years, using bed-tax money, Florida will build or completely renovate fifteen different spring training complexes.
1991 Arizona passes a tax on car rentals in Maricopa County (Greater Phoenix), the money to be used for the construction and improvement of spring training facilities. The legislation and the improved facilities it brings stabilizes the Cactus League, which had feared extinction if it did not find a way to compete with the new, publicly built facilities of the Grapefruit League.
2009 Two new, two-team spring training complexes open in Glendale and Goodyear, Arizona, built with more than $150 million in public money. The Dodgers, Indians and Reds leave Florida to train in the new complexes; when the Reds arrive in Goodyear in 2010, the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues will have an equal number of teams for the first time in history.
"A revealing combination of sports and business history. Written in brisk, engaging prose, it sheds light from an unusual angle on American society, from demographic changes through race relations on to park construction in all its dimensions."--The Boston Globe
Great read on the economics of spring training. For those interested in baseball, this book is more than worth your time.Published 6 months ago by SJP
I was hoping this would be more about baseball players and games and fun spring training stories, but it's not. Read morePublished 7 months ago by G-Lanz
Fantastic book on baseball history. Excellent writing - highly enjoyable.Published 8 months ago by GAIL
For a book about baseball there is very little, well, baseball. It is mostly about the business side with endless financial information and political asides. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Zombee
This book had more about the deals and transactions between teams and venues over the years - more so than I would have preferred. I care more for the history of the game. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Mark S. Randles
Great publication , delivered and packaged as promised. I would recommend purchasing any book from Amazon. They are accurate and well packaged.Published on June 13, 2013 by stephens
I found it interesting and thought it would be fun to learn more about spring training. My mild disappointment was caused by the fact that it was much more about the business and... Read morePublished on March 7, 2013 by Rocky63
Interesting view into the world of spring training. Not really about baseball, but since I go to spring training every year, I found it quite enlightening. Lots of politics, etc.Published on January 18, 2013 by HJS
If you love baseball and especially Spring Training this book is a must. Not greatly artistic but very informative and an easy read. Read morePublished on December 25, 2012 by Mike