Results tagged ‘ Spring training ’
Built in 1962 for the Atlanta braves and eventually home for the Montreal expos…twice, this complex became the training grounds for a lot of growth in our baseball industry and even though it has been demolished, it is still producing some interesting stories in baseball today . Many may not know but thiscomplex was actually the first dual use spring training venue to be used by two MLB organizations. The Braves had use of the main stadium and 4 fields and the Expos had use of 2 fields and 2 half fields. Both MLB teams changed in the stadium so everyday the Expos would have to walk by the Braves as they practiced on the main field and head back to the “backfields”. We also had FSL West Palm Beach Expos, 4 instructional leagues, fantasy camps, high school sports, concerts, etc.. It was fun managing the complex between 1988-1996. Many past employees that were with these clubs during the 90’s call it the glory years for the braves & expos organizations. I guess if you look at the past couple years of HOF editions : Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Martinez, Randy Johnson and Bobby Cox it makes sense.
What I find amazing today is not only did this spring training site start a trend for numerous other dual team spring training sites in AZ but it was also a GM maker. I’m talking about between 1989 and 1996 when the braves and expos were both considered the hottest teams in the national league. The molding of past and current GM’s and asst GM’s during this era is somewhat mind-boggling. Just a sampling of current and recent GM’s from both organizations that came out of West Palm Beach during that short 7 year time-frame included good friends like- Dave Dombrowski, Bill Stoneman, Dan Duquette, Neal Huntington, Bill Gievett, Frank Wren. John Schuerholz, Dayton Moore, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, Jim Beattie, Chuck Lamar, Dean Taylor. I’m sure I probably left out a few others and there were numerous Assistant GM’s that came out of WPB too. …And we can’t forget about the All-star scouting directors/farm directors like Gary Hughes, Paul Snyder, Ed Creech, Kent Qualls, etc…
i recall The competition between these two teams during ST was fierce during those years. They saw each other everyday and played each other more times than they wanted to but in the end…based on the careers of some the GM’s , players and the success of the clubs they were better for it.
What makes a baseball field so beautiful is in the eyes of the beholder but how it becomes that lush field of manicured grass is all about the sportsturf manager and his staff. (For those old-timers groundskeepers are now called sports turf managers.) Baseball fields haven’t changed drastically since the 1840s back when the sport was known as knickerbockers. The bases were measured at 90ft then and they remain that distance today. The mound however has changed quite a bit. In the last 20 years, field playing surfaces for all levels have improved tremendously, Standards have increased and the need for safety was stressed. even with all of the new fancy equipment and field protection materials there is still one part of the field that remains a true art. Managing the clays. The infield mound and homeplate. To hard or to soft. It’s all about moisture and how your field takes the water during certain times of the year. Mother nature has a calendar but she will sometimes tweak it a bit and throw everyone a curve like the Yankees practicing in a snow fall a couple of days ago. The turf managers in the north had a pretty rough winter and those fields are green and ready. I’ve blogged a bit about lot of How to grow your fields etc… but each spring seeing our fields go green after harsh winters is really amazing. The amount of hours and time spent on maintaining these fields is immense.
With the 2011 Baseball season officially underway we need to say thanks to our Spring training site ground crews for getting the guys ready for the season and the job our MLB and Minor League clubs are preparing to begin. Have a great season!