The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins were both serious contenders in last year’ s road to the World Series. They return in 2007 hoping to improve on last year’s record. To get things started on the right foot, first pitchers and catchers and then the entire squad for both teams will make their way to Fort Myers, Florida. The Sox and the Twins will use Fort Myers as their operating base and home town for the duration of the Grapefruit League Season. While they are in town both teams will draw local Floridians who look forward to the spring training season each year. But there will also be an influx of fans from New England and Minnesota who love the chance to get a look at this year’s team in the making while soaking up some Florida sun. Both groups might benefit from a brief guide to spring training in Fort Myers, Florida.
The Boston Red Sox When Major League Baseball’s Spring Training begins this year, the Boston Red Sox will head to what has become the very familiar and welcoming town of Fort Myers. Workouts and games will be held in the friendly confines of City of Palms Park with its natural grass surface and seating that can accommodate almost 7,000 fans. City of Palms Park was opened in 1992 and the Sox took up spring residency there in 1993.
While the park itself will be familiar to the Boston squad some of the faces will have changed. Missing from last years team will be Gold Glove candidate, shortstop Alex Gonzalez, 2004 World Series closer Keith Foulke and long times Sox fan favorite, Trot Nixon. New arrivals will include Julio Lugo, J. D. Drew and “Dice-K” , Chinese pitching phenomenon. Of course fans will also want to turn out to catch a glimpse of Big Poppy, David Ortiz, Captain Jason Varitek, Curt , of bloody sock fame, Schilling and of course Manny being Manny.
During the abbreviated season in Florida the Red Sox will have the chance to play a variety of major league teams including their nemesis the New York Yankees. You can consult their schedule via www.springtrainingonline.com
Tickets for Red Sox Home games at City of Palms Park can be expensive if you want the best seats in the place. But bleacher seats cost only $13, lawn seats $12 and standing room goes for $10 making a day at the park an excellent entertainment bargain.
The Minnesota Twins Sharing the Fort Myers venue with the Red Sox will be the Minnesota Twins. The playoffs last season for Minnesota were anything but satisfying and the team is likely to come to spring training on a decided mission for success and a World Series invitation for 2007.
Home field for the Minnesota Twins will be Hammond Stadium at the Lee County Sports Complex . Spring training for the Twins will get underway on February 18 for pitchers and catchers while position players are scheduled to arrive on February 23.
For fans needing a guide for spring training in Fort Myers, the first game is scheduled for February 28 against the Red Sox at 7 p.m. in City of Palms Park. The team will host 15 home games and there will be the usual tailgating and fireworks events. Ticket prices are reasonable with box seats going for $21 and reserved seats at $19.
There will be lots to see watching the pre season warm-up. Fan favorites are likely to include Joe Mauer who hit .347 last season which was good enough to win the American League batting crown. Tori Hunter will undoubtedly make a few memorable plays in the field with his speed and athleticism. And of course many eyes will be glued to the Twins pitching ace, Johan Santana whose 19-6 record in 2006 was key to keeping the Twins in the hunt for a playoff spot.
When You’re Not at the Park. Between the Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins combined, spring training fans will have some 30 games to choose from without ever leaving Fr. Myers. But let’s face it, even the most rabid fans will occasionally be looking for something else to do besides go to the park every day and every night.
Those fans are in luck. Fort Myers can provide you and your family with as much non-baseball entertainment and recreation as you can manage. Some folks will simply want to enjoy the fact that they are in Florida in March and not in Boston or Minnesota. They can enjoy that reality at the nearby Ft. Myers or Sanibel Island beaches. Not a swimmer? Then try one of the fishing options, play golf, take a bike ride. There’s so much to do in the Florida sunshine.
If you want to step inside for a bit visit the Thomas A. Edison and Henry Ford Estates. Both homes were once occupied by these two famous American inventors . Preserved here are the actual residences and gardens and many interesting exhibits of their inventions. Shopping will also take you out of the sun for awhile. You can’t go home without souvenirs for yourself and your family and Ft. Myers has plenty of shops to meet your needs.
In the evening you can eat at places like “Rib City” or “Shoeless Joe’s Sports Cafe” or you can search out a more family friendly spot like “Snug Harbor” where the kids can enjoy the coming and going of sea traffic. Another family option is” Broadway Palm Dinner Theater ” which offers children’s theater at reasonable prices. The number of eateries is considerable allowing for a great variety of dining experiences and price selections.
Lots of folks start getting ready for baseball season as soon as the Super Bowl is over. If you’re one of those people, know that you don’t have to wait until April. Pack it up and head down to Fr. Myers, Florida to enjoy the sun, sand and surf and of course the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. What a vacation package.