Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Opening Day for Spring Training is Just Around the Corner

I have just spent the remaining morning hours plastering my office walls with the schedules of spring training games around the Phoenix area. I am feeling all giddy and even though we never really had much of a winter to talk about, I have a severe case of spring fever. Spring training fever, that is.

My love for spring training season for baseball began many years ago in Vero Beach, Florida. I was living in Rochester, Minnesota at the time and had recently given birth to my first son, Andy. By March, I was so sick of below zero temperatures I yearned for the sun and a sidewalk that didn't need shoveling. Luckily for me, my parents and Grandmother "Mommom" had rented a place on the beach in Vero Beach, Florida for the month of March. They invited me or (maybe I begged them to invite me), I don't really recall. It does not matter now, as of course, I packed our bags and we headed down to the warm Florida sunshine. If I did nothing for the whole duration of the trip but lay out and swim in the ocean I would have been a happy camper. But this was not the plan my family members had in mind. Several afternoons a week, everyone would leave the beach, shower and put on a brightly-colored pair of shorts or skirt, a t-shirt top and a comfortable pair of flats. We drove inland to the spring training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time, it was known as the top facility of its kind in the nation. And thousands of people would attend every game no matter who they were playing.

My parents lived in the Chicago area and liked the Cubs and Mommom was from Wilmington, Delaware and had been a Phillies fan all her life. Still, the Dodgers were in town, so that's who we watched in the spring. I liked the Cubs and baseball was just "okay" until I started attending these middle-of-the-day games in Vero Beach. It was fun to get a hot dog and a beer or soda and watch these amazing athletes run around the bases. No seat was bad and most made you feel like you were very close to these stars. We used to laugh at the kids (all ages!) trying to get their autographs. We were still facing the sun, and back then, working on your tan was very important. Going back to Minnesota not looking like a ghost was right up there with relaxing and seeing my family.

I grew to enjoy these games more and more. And my family continued to spend their springs in Vero Beach. Sometimes a big group of friends would all go to the games, resulting in lots of laughter and stories. A spring training game is one place where all ages can sit together and enjoy each other's company.

My parents moved to Vero Beach permanently and always supported the Dodgers. Years passed by and now Mommom and my Dad have passed away. My Mom still lives in Vero Beach with her husband, Ed. And sadly, the LA Dodgers have left the City that loved and supported them for so many years. They think they have moved to "greener pastures", to perhaps the next newest and best stadium, in Arizona. But I know they left behind so many wonderful fans with wonderful memories of watching a day game in Dodger Stadium. Vero Beach is left trying to pay for an empty stadium with no team to fill it. Vacationers are left with one less activity to fill their days. Do you think the Dodgers' management understand just how sad this move is to so many people? I kind of doubt it.

Today, I am sitting and mapping out which games I will attend. I thank my Mom, Dad and Mommom for giving me this happy memory and this love for spring training games. I am fortunate to be married to a man who loves baseball even more than I do. I just hope he can sneak out of the office once or twice to enjoy his beloved Cubs or the Giants that play in Scottsdale. Yes, spring training fever is raging and I know just the cure........

1 comment:

June said...

If not, take Wrigley. I know my kids loved going to the games with you. I wish I could!!!