Updated: Apr 13, 2022
There’s nothing like Major League Baseball’s spring training in Southwest Florida, so it’s crazy to think my husband and I have lived here five years and have never made it to a game, particularly since Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota is practically in our backyard, and that he’s a fairly avid baseball fan. We were at the stadium for the first time a few months ago when one of the parking lots had been turned into a COVID-19 testing site. We vowed we’d make it back to the stadium for a game this spring. Then the lockout happened, and we thought another year would go by without taking in a game. Fortunately, negotiations ensued and finally it was time to play ball!
We headed to Ed Smith Stadium on March 19 where the Baltimore Orioles hosted the New York Yankees on the second day of the long-awaited start of Spring Training. The stadium, built in 1989, has been home to the Baltimore Orioles since 2010.
Originally from New Jersey and loyal Yankees’ fans, we felt like we hit the jackpot when our friends said they had tickets to the game. The atmosphere reminded me of summers going to Yogi Berra Stadium in Montclair, NJ where the New Jersey Jackals played their home games — kids donning their favorite player’s jersey stood at the fence with a ball and Sharpie in hand waiting for a signature, music played while the Oriole Bird danced on the dugout with a fan, and just about every seat in the 8,500-seat capacity stadium is a good one.
The Yankees came out strong with a 3-2 lead at the end of the third inning, but the Orioles came back to tie it up in the bottom of the fifth. The game ended 3-3. (I learned that Spring Training games are played for the regulation nine innings only. A tie ends in a tie; no extra innings).
We watched the first few innings from our seats in the seventh row of section 121. They were great seats and affordable at $37 each. (Parking was $12 in the north lot). The sun was beating down on us, so we walked to the concession area behind the outfield where there was some shade and a cool breeze. There’s also a good view there, right above the opposing team’s bullpen.
The last spring training game at Ed Smith is April 4 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you can’t make it to Ed Smith, you can always catch the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, the Pirates in LECOM Park in Bradenton, the Atlanta Braves at Cool Today Park in Venice, the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers or the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers.
Take me out to the ball park!