First off, a big thanks to UF for deciding to have spring break the first week of March. If it had been any later, this week would have been VERY different. With everything going on in the sports world right now, I am even more appreciative that I was able to have this experience.
From Saturday, Feb. 29, through Friday, March 6, I was able to go to six spring training games, all at different ballparks. For most of those games, I was just a fan, talking to anyone who was willing to share their story, but for one I was able to get media credentials.
Securing the credentials for even one game was the most exciting part of the experience. For the Tampa Bay Rays versus the Atlanta Braves, I sat in the press box (with Ellory!) and watched the game from that view. Despite some bad luck (I got clubhouse access but then the Braves decided to close the clubhouse for the day), I was able to interview a player and the manager outside of the clubhouse. The story I wrote that day, a piece on Felix Hernandez, is my favorite of the entire trip.
Another favorite experience of mine was simply chatting to the people that came up to me, wondering what exactly I was doing wandering the park with a notepad and voice recorder. Telling complete strangers why I was there and what my career goals were and receiving well wishes in response was a weird but definitely unforgettable thing.
Based solely on my experience from the week, I have two suggestions:
- For the games you don’t get credentials for, buy the cheapest ticket possible. Once you get there, keep an eye out for good seats that no one is in and then during the third or fourth inning make your way over to those.
- This might seem obvious, but it escaped my attention and I felt the consequences… wear sunscreen.
Overall, I say 10/10 would recommend.