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Batter Up!: Spring Time
About this Daily Classroom Special
Batter Up! is an interactive site 
for middle and high school students to practice their computer research skills while learning some facts about our national pastime. Batter Up! is maintained by  Lottie Simms, teacher at  Lawton Chiles Middle School, in Miami, Florida and Teachers Network web mentor.

What Do Grapefruit and Cactus Have in Common?

It's almost time for hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks. In late February and in March, the boys of summer prepare for the baseball season ahead with spring training. Here's a way for your middle and high school students to practice their computer research skills while learning some facts about our national pastime. 

Today 10 major league baseball clubs prepare for the upcoming season by training in Arizona. These teams make up the Cactus League for spring training. The remaining 20 teams have training camps strategically positioned in the warmer counties of Florida and constitute the Grapefruit League. The teams in each training league play each other in exciting exhibition games, while managers, trainers and owners finalize their season rosters with the heroes of spring training. Some spring training history follows:

The Yankees first started training in Florida in 1919 and except for the interruption of World War II, have trained there ever since. But in 1951, Yankees co-owner Del Webb, a resident of Phoenix, wanted his club to keep him company for a spring in Arizona and also take a tour of the West Coast. Webb arranged a training camp swap with New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham. The Giants joined the Grapefruit League, training in St. Petersburg, FL, and Casey Stengel's Yankees headed west to Phoenix.

The new surroundings apparently agreed with both squads as the Giants and Yankees eventually faced off in the 1951 World Series. The Yankees appearance in Arizona, although for just one year, also helped to solidify the Cactus League. The Chicago Cubs traveled from their longtime spring home on Catalina Island, California, to play an exhibition series with the Yankees in Phoenix. The road trip's success, coupled with a spring snow on Catalina, prompted the Cubs to relocate their spring training facility to Mesa, Arizona, the next year. They have remained there ever since. When the Baltimore Orioles moved in to train in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1956; joining the Giants in Phoenix, the Cubs in Mesa, and the Indians in Tucson; the Cactus League could boast four clubs in close proximity and provide convenient exhibition play. The spring circuit in Arizona has not fielded fewer than four squads since. 

In February 1951, when Yankees manager Casey Stengel had assembled a camp of some 25 rookies for an instructional school in Phoenix, Arizona, the world got its first glimpse of one of the greatest baseball players of all time--Mickey Mantle. Mantle quickly became the focus of Stengel's attention. The Yankees were rarely impulsive about promoting minor leaguers but when Casey saw Mantle, he began wondering whether it was time to change the rules of the Yankees' management. His argument--many of the switch-hitters of the late 40's and early 50's were good hitters but not "longball" hitters. Mantle was the exception. Stengel also saw the speed at which Mantle ran the bases.

The Yankees, we know, now train in Florida, but where in Florida? And what about the other 29 major league teams? Some we know train in Arizona but most train in Florida. Let's do some Internet research to find out exactly where these teams train before the regular season. While we are researching, let's keep in mind that some teams only meet each other during spring training. American League playing against National League is a fairly new concept in baseball known as interleague play.

Use the chart below to help you in your research. Email your completed chart to TeachNet Web Mentor & Florida Marlins fanatic, Lottie Simms, for verification and a chance to win some great Major League baseball prizes.

These two links can provide some insight into spring training:

Official Major League Baseball Site - www.mlb.com
Tampa Bay Online Network - tampabayonline.net/spring/

Complete the chart below: The first one is done for you. 

Hint: You have 29 more teams to research. Most teams have their own official homepages, for example, www.floridamarlins.com, which can give you information about spring training.


Full Team Name  Spring Training City & Facility Name Spring Training League  Major League  Last Year the team won the World Series
Florida Marlins Melbourne/Viera, Florida Space Coast Stadium Grapefruit League National 1997


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