For the avid baseball fan, nothing is better than watching your favorite team reborn each March during Spring Training. It is fantasy heaven where the fan can dream of his/her team trying to get it right this year. The week before games begin, usually the third week in February, is when fans can watch up close, get an autograph and maybe have their picture taken with a player and have it highlighted in the sports section of the Toronto, Phila. or NY newspaper. Yes, this really can occur because the BlueJays, Phillies and Yankees train near Lake Highlander.
The Jays make their spring training home within walking distance of downtown Dunedin. Many Canadians make Dunedin their winter home because of the Jays. Florida AutoExchange Field is a stadium reminiscent of days gone by, with a beer vendor who can be heard throughout the park, a parking lot so close that car windows could actually be broken by foul balls, and the fantastic aroma of bratwurst permeating the air.
The Phillies train and play in Clearwater, a fifteen minute drive from Lake Highlander. Spectrum Field and its practice fields are modern state of the art facilities. During the week before games begin the fan can freely wander between four practice fields to watch batting and fielding drills and try for an autograph from a player. Games are played in the fan friendly Spectrum Field. This stadium provides excellent views of the game from all seats and has a, cheap seats, slopped grassy area beyond the outfield fence where fans watch the game seated on towels or blankets. BE CAREFUL of the occasional home run ball that lands in this area!
Tampa. about a forty five minute drive from Lake Highlander, is where the New York Yankess train. Steinbrenner Field is the largest spring training facility in Florida. Well it is the YANKEES! Going to a Yankee game is an event! NY fans dress the part. They are true fans and aren’t afraid to admit it. With Derek Jeter retiring after the 2014 season no iconic name remains in a Yankee uniform, but there is something about the Yankee pinstripe that keeps the memories alive of those DAMN YANKEES!
Baseball is a little boy’s game that never leaves the big boy’s fantasy. What a better place and time to live out this fantasy than March in the Tampa Bay area on our Fields of Dreams.