Spring Training Memories
This time of the year, I can’t wait for spring training. After all the snow, that feeling has really escalated. Let’s face it, I’m a lousy Eskimo.
The sounds of shovels, snow blowers, plows needs to be replaced by the crack of the bat, a fastball thumping into a catcher’s mitt and the voice of a Phillies announcer from Florida.
Going back many decades, I couldn’t wait for the sound of By Saam broadcasting a game from Jack Russell Stadium. It meant good-bye to old man winter and hello Mr. Baseball.
Then, a few decades ago, I went to Clearwater for my first spring training with the Phillies. Stayed at the Fort Harrison Hotel. A card table in my room was my desk. Portable typewriter and a hotel phone provided the equipment. Needed to use a copying machine? Visit the hotel’s sales office.
Seeing Jack Russell Stadium for the first time was something I will always remember. After years of visualizing the place, I was now there to work as a bright-eyed rookie. My job? Didn’t know. Learned something different every day as part of your basic on-the-job training.
We only had one field, the one at the stadium. Workouts lasted all day. Players stood around more than they were active. Players were packed in a tiny clubhouse under the first base stands. The manager’s office was not much bigger than a phone booth. Rookies dressed in “rookie row”, a narrow row of narrow lockers on your left as you walked into the clubhouse.
Once the games began, it seemed like more fun. Crowds were thin. Never forgot my first game. Cookie Rojas was the first batter and he grounded a ball back to the pitcher who overthrew the first baseman. I jumped out of my metal folding chair, “Go, Cookie Go.” The late Allen Lewis, a Hall of Fame writer with the Inquirer, grabbed me by the belt and yanked me back into the chair. “Sit down. Rule number one in the press box, no cheering.” I don’t remember what I said but I never cheered in the press box again.
Starting Tuesday (16th), many of the Phillies Alumni will offer their spring training memories in this space. Have been receiving some great, great memories. I’m sure you will enjoy.
At the same time, Scott Palmer will provide video of Alumni memories on this site. Scott will provide daily video updates from Clearwater.
Before then, let me know your spring training memories…your first spring training, where you stayed, what impressed you the most, what didn’t you like, etc.
Time to warm up and think baseball.