Editor’s Note: Today we begin a five part series on Spring Training over the past 40 years. Each Friday between now and March 6 we will feature a snapshot of what Spring Training was like in 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005 and 2015. Today we focus on 1975.
From a personal history perspective, 1975 was the most important year of my life, because it was the year I was born.
To be specific, I was born during Spring Training of 1975, and have had a love of Spring Training and baseball ever since.
Of course, to be fair, I do not remember much about that first Spring Training of 1975. I would not see my first Spring Training game in person until 1985.
But the world of Spring Training in 1975 was certainly different than the Spring Training that will begin next month.
For starters, there were only 24 Major League teams in 1975 compared with the 30 ball clubs of today.
While the 30 clubs are evenly divided this year with 15 teams in Florida’s Grapefruit League and 15 clubs calling Arizona’s Cactus League their spring time home, the world of 1975 had a very Florida feel with all but 7 of the clubs calling Florida home.
The Grapefruit League clubs of 1975, and the towns where they held spring training were, the Cincinnati Reds (Tampa, FL), Boston Red Sox (Winter Haven, FL), Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton, FL), Baltimore Orioles (Miami, FL), Kansas City Royals (Fort Myers, FL), Los Angeles Dodgers (Vero Beach, FL), Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater, FL), New York Yankees (Fort Lauderdale, FL), St. Louis Cardinals (St. Petersburg, FL), New York Mets (St. Petersburg, FL), Texas Rangers (Pompano Beach, FL), Minnesota Twins (Orlando, FL), Chicago White Sox (Sarasota, FL), Montreal Expos (Daytona Beach, FL), Atlanta Braves (West Palm Beach, FL), Houston Astros (Cocoa, FL), and Detroit Tigers (Lakeland, FL).
The Cactus League teams of 1975, and training city were, the Oakland Athletics (Mesa, Arizona), San Francisco Giants (Phoenix, Arizona), Cleveland Indians (Tucson, Arizona), Chicago Cubs (Scottsdale, Arizona), California Angels (Palm Springs, CA), San Diego Padres (Yuma, Arizona), and Milwaukee Brewers (Sun City, Arizona).
Current Major League Baseball teams who were not yet on the map in 1975 were the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays.
Over the next few weeks of our every decade snapshot of Spring Training, we will be readdressing the teams and watch how the Spring Training addresses of some teams changed through the years, while others stayed put decade after decade.
While Spring Training and Major League Baseball in general have changed through the years, one constant remains. That constant is the promise that every season starts on the field at a Spring Training Ballpark where ticket prices are relatively low and memories that last a lifetime are made.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another decade of Spring Training to get ready for.
Copyright 2015 R. Anderson