Spring training begins in the middle of February and usually lasts about six weeks, so if you’re thinking of throwing a baseball spring training party, you have a very long window. The practice began in the 1920’s, when teams from cold climates realized they couldn’t properly train in the frozen environs of the Northern and Midwestern states. These days, however, all teams travel from their home fields in order to get in some much-needed practice prior to the start of the regular season.
Ideally, you’ll be able to throw a spring training themed party within distance of a spring training game or practice. Spring training is divided between two leagues in two geographical locations: the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona. The split between which teams play in which league has nothing to do with their MLB league or division affiliations; for example, while the New York Mets and New York Yankees play in different leagues in MLB, they both compete in Florida’s Grapefruit League. Among the rest of baseball’s most popular teams playing Grapefruit ball, the Braves play in Lake Buena Vista, the Red Sox practice in Fort Myers and the Phillies get down in Clearwater. Popular Cactus League teams include the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale, the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale and the Mariners in Peoria. The cost of attending spring training is very low compared to regular season games (usually less than $20), making throwing a party at the game a viable option for those within driving distance to the sites.
In all likelihood, however, you won’t be able to get to one of the spring training games. If this is the case, you may have to settle for watching a game on your local television network or streaming online. Nearly every MLB team has a dedicated channel for watching games; these same channels tend to show spring training games religiously. You may need to adjust your party clocks, however, as spring training games rarely take place at night. A second option allows you go old school and make a VHS (or DVR) recording of a game from earlier in the day and fool your guests into thinking they’re watching live sports.
For the baseball playing fans rather than the baseball watchers, you can plan a baseball or softball game at a local field. Borrow or buy a grill to make for a real baseball experience; hopefully you’ll opt for something tastier than ballpark franks. To make the game more fun than competitive, divide teams so that each team has both strong and weak players. To enforce the spring training theme, name one team after a Cactus League club and the other after a team from the Grapefruit League. If you happen to be crafty, you can even make your own replica jerseys for your teams – pinstripes can easily be made on white shirts with a black felt pen.