Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Cubs. These teams are well known and revered by Tampa Bay residents who take time off from work or play to see their teams play close to home during spring training.
Not only do fans come to watch the pre-season games, but they also come about two hours early to watch their favorite players warm up. Ball parks have stands set up by the practice field so that avid fans are able to sit and enjoy the warm ups.
The recent Yankees vs. Twins game at George Steinbrenner Field brought out regular-season crowds. Stands throughout the stadium were filled. The crowds were going wild, even though the game technically did not count. Many of the fans included tourists in town for spring break, but many included local residents who just love baseball and low game prices.
Spring training games also provide an opportunity to recognize local community volunteers or non-profit organizations. The Yankees-Twins game took time out to recognize a club from Tampa Catholic that helps handicapped children learn to play baseball, and a local high school wrestling team that won the state championships this past year. Each group was awarded with a gift from Mrs. George Steinbrenner, widow of the Yankees owner.
Senior, Kaitlyn Garrett states, “I love pre-season games. My family has pre-season passes. It gets us pumped up to watch the rest of the season!”
Tampa Bay is not only fortunate to have its own championship Rays team to watch during the regular season but to have a variety of games and teams to watch during pre-season.
Although baseball fans have now had to say goodbye to their teams as they headed north to begin Opening Day on Wednesday, April 4, fans can now enjoy having the Rays return from Port Charlotte to the Trop. Predictions for another championship seasons for the Rays is enough to Rays fans to get their cowbells and brooms ready for the next game.