We’re a baseball family. You can tell from our World Series T-shirts and Tervis tumblers, our beagle’s leash, the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Nats Park I got for my birthday and our MLB Network subscription that enables us to watch every single team’s every single game—all 162 of them—from April through September. (You may have figured out that our team is the world-champion Washington Nationals—I still shake my head in ecstatic disbelief when I say it—and, yes, one Friday night this winter we rewatched triumphant Game Seven.)    

Come springtime, though, like most other proud Sarasota baseball fans we root, root, root for the Orioles. That’s our hometown MLB spring training team, like the Bradentonians who root for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the folks in south Sarasota County who, for the first time this season, can cheer for the Atlanta Braves at their brand-new CoolToday Park in North Port.

Spring training is that wonderful time of the year when we can see our favorite players up close and personal at ballparks way more intimate and fan-friendly than the colossal colosseums they call home during the regular season. The weather’s balmy, the pace is languid, the popcorn and peanuts are tasty, the chance to snag an autograph is pretty good. And the air is filled with expectations that this season—really, this season—could be the year your team, like mine, goes all the way.

In This Feature:

Ed Smith Stadium Is the Friendliest Park in Florida's Grapefruit League

It’s a banner year for the Baltimore Orioles as they celebrate 10 years of spring training at the stadium.

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

For the Feduccia Family, There’s No Team Like the Orioles

"It’s peace and harmony; the ball park is the one place where everybody gets along."

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

LECOM Park Has Plenty of Old-School Charm

“LECOM Park is unique in terms of the history,” says Bradenton Marauders general manager Craig Warzecha. “It really has the perfect blend of old-school baseball charm with modern amenities.”

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

Baseball Is a Religion for Pirates Bradenton Booster Club Prez Mike Roteman

The Pirates Bradenton Booster Club is the only one in Major League Baseball that uses an all-volunteer group to serve as ushers, greeters and program hawkers.

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

CoolToday Park, Florida's Newest Spring Training Facility, Is Generating Plenty of Buzz

The only MLB spring training park in the nation to be open year-round, CoolToday is already hosting public events throughout the year.

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

It’s All About the Green for Matt Taylor, CoolToday Park’s Head Groundskeeper

Taylor has been named the best groundskeeper in the Southern League five times.

03/01/2020 By David Hackett

Eight Players to Watch This Spring Training Season

These players are going places.

03/01/2020 By Ilene Denton

What to Eat at Ed Smith Stadium, LECOM Park and CoolToday Park

These days, going to a spring training game means indulging in gourmet cuisine.

03/04/2020 By Cooper Levey-Baker