Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's the difference between the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues?

Every once in a blue moon, someone in the reading audience will e-mail me a good sports-related question, and one such question arrived in my e-mail inbox last Thursday, courtesy of Dwight from Evergreen.

Dwight wrote - “Lee, I read in the Montgomery paper a few days ago that Major League Baseball teams will begin spring training soon and that Grapefruit and Cactus League play will begin on March 3. What the heck’s the difference between the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues?”

Dwight, I guess the best way to sum this up is by saying that all 30 Major League Baseball teams either play their spring training exhibition games in either Arizona or Florida. Those who play in Florida are said to play in the “Grapefruit” League, and those who play in Arizona play in the “Cactus” League.

Teams currently playing in the Grapefruit League include the Atlanta Braves, the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers, the Houston Astros, the Miami Marlins, the Minnesota Twins, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals.

Teams in the Cactus League include the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians, the Colorado Rockies, the Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants, the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.

Spring training in Florida dates back to 1913, and while the vast majority of spring training games have been played in Florida over the years, some teams have held them in a wide variety of other places, including Havana, Cuba; Hot Springs, Ark.; Tulsa, Okla. and New Orleans. Spring training in Arizona traces its roots to the late 1940s when the Cleveland Indians and the New York Giants began pre-season practices in Tucson.

The Atlanta Braves play their “home” spring training games at Champion Stadium, a 9,500-seat stadium at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. When the Braves aren’t there, the stadium serves as the home of the Gulf Coast Braves of the Gulf Coast League and as the home of the Double-A Orlando Rays, who compete in the Southern League with the Mobile BayBears and the Montgomery Biscuits.

According to their Web site, the Braves are scheduled to play their first spring training game on Wed., March 4, when they face the Mets at 12:05 p.m. at Champion Stadium. As of Monday afternoon, tickets were still available for the game, and seats behind home plate were less than $50 each. So if anyone wants to take their friendly neighborhood sports reporter to the game, Champion Stadium is only 460 miles from Evergreen, and I’ll volunteer to drive your vehicle there and back.

In the end, if anyone else in the reading audience has a good sport-related question that they’d like me to check on, e-mail it to me at or mail it to me at The Evergreen Courant, ATTN: Lee Peacock, P.O. Box 440, Evergreen, AL 36401.

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