A blue, undefinable sadness settles into me every February. I can almost feel it like an ache deep in my bones. It has a lot to do with the weather. The warm days of last summer are a distant memory, and even the good spirits of the holidays are starting to fade.
However, then the pictures from the first week of spring training come along, I’m reminded that soon a day will come when I’ll be able to sit in the sunshine, with a bag of sunflower seeds clutched in one hand and a cold drink in the other, as I cheer for our team when the players run onto the field.
That thought is all I need to get me to spring.
Spring training is almost as old as baseball itself. The best evidence points to spring training first taking place in 1870, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings held organized baseball camps in New Orleans. Other baseball historians argue that the Washington Capitals of the National League pioneered spring training in 1888, holding a four-day camp in Jacksonville, Fl.
By 1900, spring-training was firmly established as a baseball ritual, with most American and National League teams heading out of town so players could train and managers could evaluate. Small Florida and Arizona communities were suddenly known across the nation because of the allure provided by major-league baseball.
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