My Spring Break Adventure to Seven Grapefruit League Games at Four Different Ballparks


In only eight days, I managed to attend seven MLB Spring Training games at four different Grapefruit League ballparks thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity granted to me by the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

My journey began at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa where I watched the New York Yankees host my assigned team — the Philadelphia Phillies. I was based in Clearwater, where I watched the Phillies play three different teams at BayCare Ballpark. I was fortunate to spend the first few days of the trip with my parents, who planned a brief vacation down to Florida because they always wanted to attend Spring Training. We spent most of our spare time in Clearwater Beach, and we made the short drive up to Dunedin to watch the Toronto Blue Jays face the Boston Red Sox at TD Ballpark. On my final day, I decided to drive an hour south to Bradenton to catch a Pittsburgh Pirates game at LECOM Park before I returned to Gainesville.

Overall, I learned a lot from this experience through covering games, but I was most proud of my ability to adapt to living completely by myself for the first time in my life. Prior to this experience, I have always lived with either my family or college roommates. Although I am comfortable with living on my own and taking care of my needs, I will admit it initially felt weird to live alone in a town in which I knew no one.

Although I did not have any luck getting media credentials, I could not have asked for a better overall experience. Attending games as a fan not only allowed me to explore the nuances of each stadiums, but it also forced me to meet and talk to a variety of different people. I thought I excelled in this regard as I met people of all ages who were kind enough to spark a conversation with me throughout games.

One of the highlights during my experience was getting the opportunity to meet Anthony Gargano, who was set up behind the outfield berm at BayCare Ballpark broadcasting his mid-day show for 97.5 The Fanatic before of the Phillies’ games. Gargano is a prominent sports media figure in Philadelphia, and he was outgoing and generous enough to put me in contact with some other people who work for The Fanatic.

If I could to do this experience over, the only thing I would change would be arriving to the games for which I had standing-room-only tickets further in advance to secure a good place to watch. Although I found a nice spot along the outfield concourse at Steinbrenner Field, it was difficult to maneuver through BayCare Ballpark — especially on St. Patrick’s Day — and find a good view of the field. Despite lots of seating room on the outfield berm, Phillies fans arrived to the games early, which forced me to meander around the concourse to find a decent spot. Although it was inevitable, I would have ideally attended Spring Training prior to the start of the World Baseball Classic as many star players like Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and catcher JT Realmuto were absent during our trip.

Throughout the semester, listening to advice from UF alumni like Chris Kirchner, staff writer for The Athletic, helped prepare me the most for the experience. Kirchner was generous to take time out of his day to discuss his experience covering the New York Yankees and to answer some of our last-minute questions surrounding Spring Training. Moreover, our budgeting spreadsheet assignment helped me stay organized with my expenses as it gave me a fairly accurate estimation of my total spending before I collected my receipts.

In the future, I think and hope students will have an easier time acquiring media credentials. 2023 was an especially popular year for media personnel to attend Spring Training as we are still not too far removed from the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant student journalists took a backseat to the professional media. For future students, I think additional alumni guest speakers would benefit each individual’s preparation for their experience. Ultimately, my advice for future students is to take each game one at time and to trust that there is always a silver lining if you aren’t given media credentials. Lastly, don’t be afraid to talk to strangers because you never know you might meet or what connections you might make.

About gfoll

Check Also

How the Relationship between HCC and the New York Yankees is Growing the Game of Baseball in a Unique Way

Across the country, collegiate baseball programs continue to develop at a monstrous rate every year. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *