Clicking on the Web: Baseball spring training is in the air

by Howard Lestrud

The way our weather has been going, we could actually play baseball tomorrow.

It is also possible that we could have a monstrous snowstorm on the Twins’ opening day against Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels when the two meet on Monday, April 9 for a 3 p.m. game.

Twins pitchers and catchers and others reported for spring training last weekend (Feb. 18) and sounds of another baseball season are indeed in the air.

I can hear that “Play Ball” all the way from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., to anywhere in Minnesota.

Last year is history and we quickly have forgotten our 99 losses. Right?

Target Field is still a draw and will again rank as one of the fans’ favorite ballparks in the Major Leagues.

The Twins have had 79 sellouts in 2010 and 59 sellouts in 2011 at Target Field.

The Twins have some of the most dedicated fans in Major League Baseball and it is likely that most fans, including this rabid one, have forgotten last year and see the playoffs in our future for 2012.

First on the agenda, bookmark the Twins official website at http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=min

Manager Ron Gardenhire’s Twins open the Grapefruit League spring training season at Hammond Stadium on Saturday, March 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Spring training tickets may be tough to find but check for tickets at http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/

Let’s read more about the Twins’ spring training site:

“The Twins are spending their 22nd spring training season at the Lee County Sports Complex in 2012.

“Spurred by the state-of-the-art facility, the Twins won the 1991 World Series after enjoying their most successful spring training camp in history as they posted a record-high 21 wins.

“The Lee County Complex is home to the Twins and their six minor league affiliates.

“It features five full and two half-fields, the centerpiece of which is a 7,500-seat stadium in which the major league Twins play their exhibition games and conduct some of their daily workouts.

“The main stadium was renamed Bill Hammond Stadium late in the 1994 spring season in honor of the deputy county commissioner who was instrumental in getting the complex built for the Twins.

“The sports complex is the home to two of Minnesota’s minor league affiliates, housing both the Miracle of the Class A Florida State League and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins.

“Complete home and visiting clubhouses are included in the stadium proper, and complete facilities for the minor league teams are contained in a building adjacent to their playing fields.

“The Major League club’s administrative offices are located in the stadium, with the minor league department’s offices in the building adjacent to their fields.

“The complex also features two soccer fields, a softball complex and other athletic facilities for use by Lee County organizations, plus an eight-acre water-management lake for public fishing.

“The Twins trained in Orlando, Fla., from 1936 to 1990 (with the exception of the war years of 1943-45, when they conditioned in College Park, Md.), and their minor league clubs moved to Terry Park in Fort Myers in 1990, after headquartering in Melbourne, Fla., from 1964-89.

“The Lee County Sports Complex, a $14 million undertaking, was completed in February 1991.

“Lescher and Mahoney, an architectural and engineering firm based in Tampa, Fla., were the lead architects for the project, with design assistance from Ellerbe-Becket of Kansas City, Mo. Case Contracting Company of Plant City, Fla., was the contractor.

“The Twins and Lee County have a 20-year agreement for use of the complex.”

Hammond Stadium has a capacity of 7,500. Its outfield dimensions are 330 in left, 404 in center and 330 in right.

“The stadium address is 14100 Six Miles Cypress Pkwy, Ft. Myers, Florida. Easiest way to get to the park is: From I-75, take the Daniels Road exit west two miles to Six Miles Cypress Parkway; go south and the stadium is on the right.”

If you manage to take in some Twins games in spring training in 2012, you may be able to see these Grapefruit League teams: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals (World Champions in 2011), Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals.

To see a Grapefruit League 2012 master schedule, go to http://springtrainingonline.com/features/master-schedule.htm

If you happen to be in Arizona this March, you have the opportunity to see the Cactus League teams in action.

They include: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.

To see a Cactus League 2012 master schedule, go to http://springtrainingonline.com/features/master-schedule-cactus.htm

I have yet to see Hammond Stadium but hope to get there one of these years.

My last visit to a Twins spring training camp was at Tinker Field in the spring of 1987, the year the Twins won their first World Series championship.

I still recall the electricity that was in the air with the arrival of some new Twins players including Dan Gladden, Juan Berenguer and Jeff Reardon.

Spring training can definitely get those corpuscles hopping and a popping.

If you wish to find out something interesting about Major League Baseball spring training, go to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_training

Spring training by major league teams in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 were in wide use.

Early training sites include the St. Louis Cardinals in Hot Springs, Ark., and Tulsa, Okla., and the New York Yankees in New Orleans and later Phoenix, Ariz.

The Detroit Tigers are credited with being the first team to conduct spring training camp in Arizona.

The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the current major-league teams to train in Florida, when they spent two weeks in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1889.

Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.


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