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Full disclosure, this author is from Chicago.  Yes, the same city that has wind chills of -10, December through February, and 70 to 25 degree days in March.

After a long winter in Midwest, there is something about watching baseball that wakes the senses and alerts the spirit that Spring is near.   We are bears coming out of hibernation, only the senses that entice us are the smell of the fresh cut grass, the sunshine, the taste of a soda, beer, hot dogs, ice cream, peanuts and nachos.  The sound of music over the loud speaker before the game and between innings.  Kids with smiles searching for autographs of their favorite players.  Family time.  Friends time.  

For the last 10 years, our family has been getting a jump start on spring by attending a couple spring training games each season, while tying it in with the kid’s spring break.  The fact that the two spring training leagues are called the “Grapefruit League” and the “Cactus League” should be a dead giveaway that these two leagues are in the warmest parts of the United States.  The fact that they last the entire month of March, is a bonus.  Since both of the teams from my hometown of Chicago play in Arizona, we go there.  Here is what you have to look forward to at Spring Training regardless of the league…

  • Weather…75-85 degree temperatures.
  • Beautiful Resorts…what kid (and adults) don’t love to be poolside in March.  Hint, most of the resorts have transportation to the fields and some have special packages centered around spring training.
  • Excellent Scenery…nothing like coming out of a ballgame and hitting one of Florida’s awesome beaches or hiking up Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • Family Friendly Ballparks…all of the ballparks are smaller with great kid’s attractions from inflatable jumpy things, poster making and crafts, to wiffleball hitting contests.  
  • Affordable Ticket Prices…Most Spring Training tickets range from $10 for lawn seats to $40 reserved seats.  
  • Player Access…during the regular season, it is impossible to get close to the players.  During spring training, I have seen players actually come up into the stands to enjoy a hot dog and a beer with the fans.  The players at Spring Training almost always stick around after games to take pictures and sign autographs for the kids.

Here are the maps for the two leagues.

http://mlb.mlb.com/springtraining/grapefruitleague/map/.

http://mlb.mlb.com/springtraining/cactusleague/map/.

As “Mr. Cub”, Ernie Banks would say back in the day… “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…’let’s play two!”