Payne Park Was The First Site for Spring Training in Sarasota, 1924-1990

New York Giants' manager John J. "Mugsy" McGraw was the first to bring a team for spring training here.

By Bethany Ritz February 24, 2023

Payne park was a tourist camp and spring training grounds from 1924-1990.

The first spring training grounds in Sarasota were originally at Payne Park, where they remained until 1989 when Ed Smith Stadium was built. The park is named after its first owner, Calvin Payne, and his wife, Martha, who deeded the land to the city in 1923 on the condition that it remain a park and fairground.

The following year, John J. "Mugsy" McGraw, the manager of the New York Giants, brought the team to Sarasota for spring training. He also had an interest in taking advantage of the land boom he'd been told about by his friend John Ringling. 

This image is from 1959, when the Los Angeles Dodgers trained in Payne Park just before winning the World Series that same year. They defeated the Chicago White Sox. The following year, in 1960, the White Sox ventured to Payne Park for spring training and came every year for 37 seasons.

The park's diamond was eventually demolished in 1990, a year after Ed Smith stadium opened. In today's Payne Park—which was developed on the original ballpark in 2007—you can find a small outline of a baseball field set in pavers with stadium seats on two sides in recognition of its past. 

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