Spring Training Turns 100

Spring Training Turns 100

Prohibition was taking hold, the Great War was in the offing and Spring training began with the first major-league exhibition on February 26, 1914 at Tampa’s Plant Field (on the grounds of what is now the University of Tampa) then again — after crossing Tampa Bay by steamship — the next day in St. Petersburg, at a park on Coffee Pot Bayou. The Cubs won both 3-2.  Pictured famed NY Yankee Lou Gehrig in 1937.

Lured to Tampa by Mayor D.B. McKay’s promise to cover the team’s expenses up to $100 per player, the Cubs began workouts at Plant Field. At the same time, St. Petersburg, and businessman, Al Lang, persuaded Branch Rickey, the fledgling manager of the cellar-dwelling St. Louis Browns, to bring his team to St. Petersburg. By the spring of 1914, the Sunshine State had the makings of a rudimentary league with the Cubs in Tampa, the St. Louis Browns in St. Petersburg, the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Augustine and Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in Jacksonville.

The Florida cities with the most years of spring training are St. Petersburg and Tampa (87 years), Bradenton and Clearwater (76 years), Lakeland (75 years), Sarasota (74 years), Fort Myers (64 years), West Palm Beach (63 years), Orlando (62 years), Vero Beach (58 years) and Winter Haven (55 years).

Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and the Yankees playing the Boston Bees in St. Petersburg

Henry Young, Jr.

For almost 45 years, Henry served in Fundraising and Arts Management positions and ran his own consulting firm. His work secondary schools; healthcare organizations; and service organizations, with a specialization in the performing arts, including ballet and theater companies, chamber orchestras, choirs, and performing arts centers. In 2009 he began to prepare for retirement. Following a career involved with the management of many special events and working with senior civic and corporate leadership, his experience in the managing of multiple relationships made entering the hospitality industry a natural extension of his career.