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 2017 Spring Training Reporting Dates page.
All 2017 Spring Training Team Schedules Have Been Released
The A's, on September 30, became the first team to release their 2017 spring training schedule. On October 24, the Orioles became team #2, and the first training in Florida, to announce their full schedule. Finally, on December 15, the last of the schedules (for the Diamondbacks and Rockies) were released, so you can take a look at them all now on a team-by-team basis on the 2017 spring training schedules page.
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Spring Training Features
The 2017 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. 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.
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 48 games scheduled to be played at night in 2017 fans can enjoy a day/night DH at different ballparks. Check out the list of 2017 Spring Training Night Games to plan your creative double dip.
Essential Ballpark Information Guide
If you're going to a game at any spring training ballpark in 2017, our Brief Ballpark Info Guide will give you an idea of what to expect concerning parking and ticket prices, gate opening times and other nice to know stuff, like ages kids get in free and whether chairs are allowed in lawn seating. All the info and explanations are a quick read and detail the most typical ballpark FAQs for the 2017 spring training season.
Split Squads Explained
How is it possible for a team to play games in two locations on the same day and generally at the same time? The usage of split squads is the answer. Every team has split squad dates during spring training. Why, what that means, and which players are likely to play where is explained in our page detailing Split Squads During Spring Training.
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.
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.
Extended Spring Training Guide
Extended spring training games don't draw a lot of fans but are a very fan-friendly experience: admission is free and so is parking at the team complexes where the games are always played in daylight hours from early April through early June. If interested in attending the games so few people even know about, read our Extended Spring Training Guide, which is really the only one of its kind.
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 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.
2016 Spring Training Recap
The spring training landscape remained the same in 2016 as it was in 2015, so there were no new ballparks or team relocations in Arizona or Florida to remember the season by.
Instead, the Cubs continued their record-breaking trend at Sloan Park in Mesa, where the ballpark in its 3rd year made it 3-for-3 in setting all-time attendance records for full season (226,163), per game average (15,078), and largest individual game crowd at a spring training-specific ballpark, with that number being the 15,523 that bought tickets to a Cubs-Royals game on March 20.
Large enough crowds flocked to ballparks everywhere in Arizona and Florida that 3,443,920 tickets were collectively sold to the 453 games that were played in 26 venues in the two states. The average attendance for a spring training game in 2016 was 7,602, which was an increase of 105 over the 2015 average.
In the Cactus League, 232 games were played by 15 teams in 11 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,919,752, an average of 8,275 per game. Not a single game was rained out, which was the first time since 2009 that no games in Arizona were canceled due to weather. Among all the games that were played, two of them were held at the Diamondbacks' regular season home, Chase Field, and they contributed 29,190 fans to the 2016 Cactus League total, which also included 6,412 from the two exhibition games that college teams played against MLB clubs.
In the Grapefruit League, 221 games were played by 15 teams in 15 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,524,168, an average of 6,897 per game. There were 15 rainouts. The Marlins played a pair of official spring training games at their regular season ballpark in Miami and the two games drew 26,318, while another 24,708 were added to the final tally in Florida as that's how many tickets were sold to watch Major League squads take on collegiate/non-MLB teams in exhibitions at five spring training stadiums.
If strictly including only games played between the 30 MLB teams at the 24 spring training ballparks, then the combined total of fans to watch those 441 Cactus and Grapefruit League games was 3,383,610, with the per game average crowd for them 7,673. The Cactus League average was 8,264 (1,884,150 tickets sold to 228 games) and the Grapefruit League average was 7,040 (1,499,460 fans and 213 games).
Two ballparks drew spring training fans for the final time in 2016, when Osceola County Stadium (Astros) and Space Coast Stadium (Nationals) had their swan song seasons. The stadiums' two inhabitants are moving to West Palm Beach to share a new state-of-the-art complex there in 2017, a move that marks the end of the Astros' tenure in Kissimmee, where they have trained since 1985, and the Nationals' time in Viera, the only location in which Washington's current franchise has ever trained, as the Nats took over the Expos' lease at Space Coast Stadium when Canada's original franchise moved to the United States' capital city.
2016 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
10. White Sox
* Standings only include games played in Arizona and Florida between MLB teams
2016 Grapefruit League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|Nationals ||18 || 4 || 3 || -
|Blue Jays ||17 || 6 || 3 ||1½
|Twins ||19 ||10 || 1 ||2½
|Astros ||16 || 9 || 2 ||3½
|Tigers ||18 ||11 || 1 ||3½
|Phillies ||15 ||10 || 3 ||4½
|Rays ||12 ||13 || 2 ||7½
|Yankees ||14 ||16 || 2 || 8
|Cardinals ||11 ||13 || 3 || 8
|Marlins ||11 ||14 || 1 ||8½
|Orioles ||11 ||15 || 5 || 9
|Red Sox ||12 ||18 || 1 ||10
|Mets || 7 ||16 || 5 ||11½
|Pirates || 8 ||20 || 2 ||13
|Braves || 6 ||20 || 6 ||14
2016 Cactus League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|D-backs ||24 || 8 || 3 || -
|Angels ||15 || 8 || 6 ||4½
|Indians ||16 ||12 || 4 || 6
|Rangers ||15 ||13 || 1 || 7
|White Sox ||15 ||13 || 1 || 7
|Rockies ||15 ||13 || 4 || 7
|Mariners ||16 ||14 || 3 || 7
|Brewers ||13 ||13 || 2 || 8
|Reds ||15 ||16 || 1 ||8½
|Dodgers ||13 ||14 || 3 ||8½
|A's ||11 ||15 || 3 ||10
|Royals ||14 ||19 || ||10½
|Cubs ||10 ||17 || 2 ||11½
|Giants ||11 ||19 || 1 ||12
|Padres || 9 ||18 || 2 ||12½
"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
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