DUNEDIN, Fla. – Spring training brings baseball fans together in a big way, with traditions and vacation with friends or family forming quite a way to spend time with loved ones.
The atmosphere is one to behold, with an aura of its own, one of the main reasons fans enjoy spring training more than the Major League regular season.
Bill Vanblyderveen, a Toronto Blue Jays fan from Burford, Ontario, travelled to Dunedin with his family of four, their second year coming for vacation.
“This is our third game — excellent sports, weather’s been great, the atmosphere is great at the ballpark,” Vanblyderveen said. “For me, personally, I like the interaction with the players and how close it is, much better than the Rogers Centre. You actually get to see people up close and get lots of autographs.”
The relaxed and recreational feeling spring training gives people allows it to be more of an enjoyable experience.
Robert Murphy, a baseball fan from Winter Park, Fla., credits the atmosphere but also the players battling to advance through the minor leagues.
“The fact that you have young players that are trying to get to Triple A, Double A, the majors —and the stars play a few innings, but then you see the young hungry guys play,” Murphy said. “It’s more relaxed and casual and the pitchers don’t dominate like they do in the regular season.”
For Leroy Williams, a Baltimore Oriole fan from Bushwood, Md., attending spring training is an annual tradition, going on 12 years now, as well as having travelled across the United States to attend minor-league games.
“Oh, this is great. You get an opportunity to see some of the guys that maybe won’t be here this year but several years,” Williams said. “I’ve done a lot of travelling across the country and I catch a lot of minor-league games during the regular season.
“It reminds me of those types of ballparks where it’s kind of open, accessible to everything, and you get an opportunity to be closer to the action.”