We spent last weekend in Arizona for some Spring Training baseball. We love to head down there in March to catch a few games. This was my fifth year of Spring Training (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014) so I thought I'd share a few tips on how to do it like a pro.
-Buy tickets ahead of time: This is kind of an easy one. It would suck to get to a game only to have it be sold out. This year we wanted to go to an Angels game. The game that we attended happened to be against the Royals, World Series Champions, and the game was sold out. Had we not connected the dots earlier or purchased our tickets ahead of time we wouldn't have been able to get in.
-Consider buying lawn tickets to save money and have an awesome baseball experience: We love watching the game from the lawn. It is especially fun now that we have babies to watch from the grass because if it isn't a crowded game they can run around, which is way better than making them be confined to a chair for the duration of the game.
-If watching from the lawn, be sure to arrive early to scout out a spot: All of the ball parks open well before the game starts so fans can watch batting practice. Bring your blanket and look for a valuable spot in the shade.
-Bring water, sunscreen, and a blanket: Don't forget to bring water either in an unopened bottle or an empty bottle to fill in the stadium. Sunscreen is definitely a must (at Talking Stick they have complimentary sunscreen stands), and if you're planning on watching from the grass you'll want a beach towel or a blanket to sit on. Make sure it's not a hot blanket (think: no fleece).
-Visit a variety of ball parks and make sure you find the food specialty at each stadium: It's always fun to watch your team play at their "home" stadium but it is also great to watch them play elsewhere so you can get a taste of the other ball parks. And speaking of tastes, a lot of the stadiums have a unique food specialty. At Talking Stick our favorite thing is the cheesecake on a stick.
-Bring something to get signed and your own Sharpie: With better access to the major league players you can't miss the opportunity to get some autographs before the game starts. Sometimes the players also sign a few on their way out of the game.
-Spring Training primarily occurs in March: Major league players will be playing more and more towards the end of the month to get ready for the regular season. The later in the month you can attend the more major league players you'll be able to see. (We usually can't go in late March because of Spring Break and we still have a great time at the beginning of the month as well.)
-Allow a minimum of three days for a proper visit: Day games generally start at 1:05 and night games at 7:05. In order to see a variety of teams and stadiums three days is best.
-If the teams allow it check out the back practice fields: When the Rockies were still in Tucson we went to the park way before our game started (at about 10 or 11) and checked out the back practice fields. We were able to watch almost the entire starting line-up practice. We also got some priceless pictures with some of the best players (like this one with Tulo).
-Most stadiums will let you in for free during the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings: If for some reason you can't make it to the whole game, catch the end for free.
-Major league players usually only play 5 or 6 innings: To avoid injury the big names usually never play entire game. They are usually taken out in the 5th or 6th innings and replaced with minor league players who have been invited to participate with the team in Spring Training. The minor league players usually have higher numbered jerseys.
-Beware of split squad games: If your main goal is to watch as many major league players as possible make sure to check the schedule and be aware of split squad games.
And of course I have to include a few pictures:
(P.S. I was so bummed when I lugged my huge camera with 3 lenses into the first game only to realize I left my camera card at home. IN UTAH! Agh!! Such a bummer.)
Have you ever been to Spring Training? We'll be back next year, so I'd love to hear some of your tips below!