Between February and the first week of April, when the regular season officially kicks off, baseball fans cluster to Arizona and Florida for the fun of spring training. You can bask in the sun, soaking up rays and catching great baseball action while you watch your favorite players warm up for the year. And because many of the spring training stadiums are centrally located, it's easy to stay in one place and catch games with a number of different teams. If you've never been to spring training, this is the year!
Since the 1920s, Major League Baseball teams have been training at locations other than their home fields. This allows new players to learn the roster and get used to their positions, and it gives veterans a chance to warm up their skills. It's also a great chance for the fans to get closer to their favorite players. And because the teams all practice in two locations, they can play against each other and get a feel for truly competitive play during the pre-season.
Pitchers and catchers are the first to arrive at spring training since their positions require lengthy training. The position players arrive a week or two later. The teams can play against college and university teams, minor league baseball clubs, and other professional clubs. They also take part in split-squad games, when the team splits in two and plays against two different teams.
You can visit spring training by heading to either the Cactus League in Arizona or the Grapefruit League in Florida. Every team has a 'home' stadium at spring training. In Florida, the stadiums are in Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, down the Space Coast, in Kissimee and Walt Disney World, and many points in between. If you camp in central Florida, you can visit a number of the stadiums during your stay. A few stadiums host two different teams, which gives you the chance of seeing twice as many games.
In Arizona the stadiums are in the Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and Scottdale area. This quadrant of southwestern Arizona is filled with baseball action in February and March. Be sure to check out Peoria Stadium, where you can see both the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, or the historic 1930s-era HoHoKam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs.