Baseball has finally, finally, nearly, finally arrived, and not a moment too soon. After an off season where the Mets' biggest acquisitions were executives and lawsuits, it will be nice to talk about actual players and games for a change (in between endless, baseless speculation about the team's next owner, of course).
In that spirit, I dip back into my VHS archives to bring you another clip from 1988's This Week in Baseball-produced spring training preview special. This one addresses spring training itself, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1988. I don't know how you can celebrate a concept, but you will hear Ron Stafford of the Florida Chamber of Commerce explain how a Washington team led by Connie Mack made their way to the Sunshine State in the spring of 1888, and how much baseball players were social pariahs back then.
This clip offers a unique perspective on spring training in Florida 20+ years ago. It seems that business was healthy and booming back then, with brand new facilities for the Reds and the Mets going into operation (you'll see a few brief glimpses of the then-brand new Port St. Lucie site), as well as the entertainment complex Baseball on the Boardwalk.
1988 isn't that long ago, but nowadays it seems like Florida spring training is a dying species, with so many teams pulling up stakes for Arizona. The segment also celebrates an anniversary of Dodgertown, which is now history, and features a few other teams who have left Florida since then. With the remove of time, it almost seems melancholy.
But on the plus side, you will hear the dulcet tones of Mel Allen narrating the whole thing, which always warms the nostalgic corners of my heart. There are a number of interesting tidbits and enjoyable moments in this clip, but my favorite goes to Charles Brown, who Allen describes as "an old Florida hand." Brown's brief but salty explanation for the origins of spring training cracks me up, as does Allen's knowing laugh shortly thereafter. Check it out after the jump.