A Guide to Attending Spring Training Practice...and Getting Autographs at Them
Proximity to the pros at a price that can't be beat. That sums up the free to attend practice only portion of spring training, during which time autographs are easy to come by and barriers between players and fans are often remarkably minimal. Spring training in February has an ambiance of fan-friendliness that's unmatched in professional sports. To help you bask in it, Graham Knight has compiled a guide with team-by-team listings of where practices are actually held, when you should be there, and the guidelines for getting autographs at them.
Before the games begin, players have to report to camp. To see when pitchers and catchers are due to report and first practices are held for your team, visit the 2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates page.
All Team and League Schedules for 2015 Have Been Posted
The 2015 spring training schedule is set, as all 30 teams have officially released their schedules, and a close to evenly split 476 exhibition games will be played in Arizona and Florida. The Cactus League schedule features 235 games to be played in 11 ballparks. There are 241 games on the Grapefruit League docket, with 15 ballparks being used to host them. Combined, the two leagues have 45 night games scheduled. To find links to all schedules, including those for every team, visit the Spring Training Schedules page. And if you like and then follow Spring Training Connection on Facebook, notices about schedule additions and changes will be mentioned there when they happen.
2015 Ticket Guide Now Available
The 2015 Spring Training Ticket Information Guide covers all the aspects a fan needs to know about for obtaining tickets to attend a game anywhere in Arizona or Florida in March and early April. From listing on-sale dates to primary and secondary ticket providers, posting box office phone numbers and alerting you to ticketing trends that can drive up, and in some cases down, prices, the ticket guide compiled by Spring Training Connection is full of details and information about the ticket buying process.
Spring Training Connection at Facebook
Stay in the know with all the news that's happening right now by following Spring Training Connection at Facebook, where the latest spring training news, schedules and more can be found.
Spring Training Features
Let's Watch Two
Ernie Banks famously said "Let's play two!" and while there are no doubleheaders during spring training there are plenty of opportunities for fans to watch two games in one day. With 45 games scheduled to be played at night in 2015 fans can enjoy a day/night DH at different ballparks. Check out the list of 2015 Spring Training Night Games to plan your creative double dip.
Tips For Getting Autographs
How do you get autographs in Spring Training? Joe Connor answers that question. Read his article, How to Get Autographs During Spring Training, to learn about the three important factors autograph seekers must be aware of in their quest.
The Best Ballpark Atmospheres During Spring Training
In 2011, Joe Connor ranked, from worst to first, the general game day atmosphere found at each Grapefruit and Cactus League ballpark. Not surprisingly, the rabid Red Sox and Cubs fan bases ensured that their teams topped the respective lists.
Things To Do In Arizona and Florida During Spring Training
Fans of all ages have plenty to experience and see in the Grand Canyon and Sunshine States besides watching their favorite team train in their winter home. Joe Connor details a “starting nine” of sports and recreation things to do when you're not at your favorite team’s ballpark.
Planning For Spring Training
What do you need to know before you go? Joe Connor helps you answer that question in his article, 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Spring Training Trip.
To Dine For: Ranking the Ballparks Based on the Food They Offer
In 2009, Peoria and Lakeland topped our list by having the best ballpark concessions fare in their respective leagues. Which other ballparks also did a good job at satisfying appetites? See the rankings and explanations for all 26.
Spring Training Ballpark News
Cubs Now Play at Sloan Park
The name Cubs Park didn't last long, as the Mesa ballpark that opened in February 2014 has a new name as of January 8, 2015, when it was announced that the Sloan Valve Company had spent an undisclosed sum to name the Chicago Cubs' spring training home "Sloan Park" for the next 10 to 20 years. Sloan Valve is based in the Chicago suburbs and is best known for their toilet technology and products, some of which have been in Wrigley Field since it opened in 1914, a full century before what's now Sloan Park debuted. Although neither the dollar amount or exact duration of the deal were publicly released, the partnership between the Cubs and Sloan reportedly "is for seven figures annually" and includes publicity perks for the now much better known plumbing products company at Wrigley as well.
Tigers Allow Fans Early Entrance to Watch Batting Practice for $5
In general, the gates at spring training ballparks don't open early enough for fans to see the home team hit, which usually happens between two and three hours before game time. That being the case, the Tigers in 2013 came up with the idea to offer fans that opportunity...for a fee. For $5, fans in 2014 can once again get into Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium an hour or so early to watch the Tigers take their BP from the place where BP homers often land: the grass hill in left field. For fans wanting to partake in the "batting practice experience," the cost of a Batting Practice Pass is added onto the regular cost of a ticket at the box office, where already bought tickets can be upgraded for the same $5 price. You must have a game ticket to be eligible to get in early and the only part of the ballpark that is open early is the berm and left field line bleacher grandstand. Admission is via the 3rd base gate only and the time for early batting practice admittance can vary slightly. For day games, it's usually 10:00 a.m. but it actually depends on when the Tigers start hitting, which could be later like 10:15 but is always going to be in the 10:00ish range. While many teams will likely copy the Tigers and offer such access in the future, right now they're the only one doing it exactly this way.
Spring Training History
Spring Training Sites of World Series Teams
Shockingly, more teams have advanced to the World Series after training in Cuba than in Sarasota, from which no team has ever embarked on a championship run despite 81 years of trying. To see where the World Series winners have wintered (and the runner-ups too), we've listed the city/states where all 110 Fall Classic participants held their Spring Training camps, breaking the list down into two eras: 1947 to present, and 1903-1946. That split was chosen because 1947 was the first year that teams permanently set up camp in Arizona. Since that groundbreaking spring training, the only states to send their trainees to the World Series are Arizona and Florida; prior to '47 the finalists came from 10 states.
2014 Spring Training Recap
The Cubs' new ballpark in Mesa was the big story for 2014, as the debut of Cubs Park drew big crowds -- record breaking, in fact -- to the team's $84 million complex, which was funded in full by the city that had built the team their previous spring training home, Hohokam Park, just 17 years prior.
The Cubs' 3.3-mile move within Mesa culminated in them being restored as the kingpins of the Cactus League, at least as far as attendance is concerned, as 15,000-person capacity Cubs Park (renamed Sloan Park in January 2015) became the biggest ballpark ever to be built for spring training, which enabled the team to set all-time spring training records for total (213,815) and per game (14,254) attendance. Once the longtime league leader in both crowd counts, the Cubs led the Arizona circuit in average attendance for the first time since 2010 and total attendance for the first time since 2009.
Thanks to the Cubs' contributions, the 219 spring training games played in Arizona ballparks averaged a Cactus League-record 7,761 fans per game, which was an increase of 924 from 2013. Total attendance was 1,699,650, with games played in 11 ballparks by 15 teams. Three games were rained out, all on March 1. Two of the league's games were played at the Diamondbacks' Chase Field and they added 32,889 fans to the 2014 Cactus League total.
In the Grapefruit League, 216 games were played by 15 teams in 14 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,473,260, an average of 6,821 per game. While 13 games were rained out, the 2014 Grapefruit League tally did have 21,563 added to it, as that's how many tickets were sold to the small number of games between Major League clubs and collegiate teams.
Overall, spring training in Arizona and Florida drew 3,172,910 fans to 435 games in 2014, which equates to an average gate of 7,294.
The highest single game crowd for the season was 15,276 for the Angels-Cubs on March 25 at Cubs Park, where a dozen times the Cubs hosted crowds of over 13,721, which was the previous largest crowd to ever attend a game at a spring training ballpark.
While 2014 represented a new beginning for the Cubs in Mesa, it was the swan song season for Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the oldest original structure still used for Cactus or Grapefruit League games. The A's had played at "Muni" since 1982, and their finale at the 1964-opened venue drew 5,033 on March 26. Starting in 2015, the stadium will be home to Arizona State University's baseball team, while the A's take over what the Cubs left behind in Mesa, Hohokam Park, where many millions were spent in 2014 to remake the stadium and its nearby training complex ready for Oakland's move in.
With Phoenix Muni now a stadium of spring training's past, Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium, site of Tigers games since 1966, becomes the granddaddy of actual exhibition season stadiums, although the site of the Pirates' present park has been hosting major league games since 1923. McKechnie Field, however, was substantially rebuilt in 1993. The one ballpark that did see renovations done to it for 2014 was the Twins' Hammond Stadium, where the first phase of a two-year overhaul increased its capacity by 1,200 thanks to the addition of an outfield berm and seating.
2014 Attendance Rankings
(home games only, ranked by per game average)
* Attendance figures include all games in which paid admission was collected at a spring training ballpark
|Grapefruit League ||City ||Average ||Total
2. Red Sox
13. Blue Jays
Port St. Lucie
|Cactus League ||City ||Average ||Total
9. White Sox
* Standings only include games played in Arizona and Florida between MLB teams
2014 Grapefruit League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|Rays ||16 || 7 || 4 || -
|Marlins ||17 ||11 || 2 ||1½
|Yankees ||16 ||11 || 2 || 2
|Pirates ||14 ||10 || 2 ||2½
|Orioles ||13 || 9 || 4 ||2½
|Tigers ||15 ||12 || 2 || 3
|Nationals ||15 ||13 || 1 ||3½
|Blue Jays ||14 ||13 || || 4
|Mets ||13 ||13 || 2 ||4½
|Cardinals ||11 ||13 || 2 ||5½
|Astros ||10 ||15 || || 7
|Braves ||12 ||18 || 3 ||7½
|Red Sox ||11 ||17 || 2 ||7½
|Twins || 9 ||16 || 3 || 8
|Phillies || 9 ||17 || 3 ||8½
2014 Cactus League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|Indians ||19 || 8 || 2 || -
|Giants ||17 ||10 || 1 || 2
|Angels ||17 ||10 || 2 || 2
|Mariners ||18 ||12 || 3 ||2½
|Rockies ||15 ||14 || 4 || 5
|A's ||13 ||13 || 5 ||5½
|D-backs ||12 ||13 || 3 || 6
|Padres ||10 ||12 || 6 ||6½
|Reds ||14 ||17 || || 7
|Cubs ||14 ||17 || 1 || 7
|Royals ||11 ||15 || 2 ||7½
|Dodgers || 6 ||10 || 5 ||7½
|Brewers ||12 ||17 || || 8
|Rangers ||10 ||15 || 3 || 8
|White Sox || 9 ||14 || 5 || 8
"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
- Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby
"It's the fans that need spring training. You gotta get 'em interested. Wake 'em up and let 'em know that their season is coming, the good times are gonna roll.”
- Harry Caray
Contact Us With Any Questions About Spring Training