Mar. 26, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Fans watch the game between the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Are you considering going to Spring Training for the first time this coming year? If you’ve never been to Scottsdale to see the San Francisco Giants in action during Spring Training, I would strongly encourage you to consider it. I’m making my fifth trip to Spring Training this year. I’ve learned a few tips along the way and enjoyed it so much that it’s a staple for us in March. There are a lot of people out there that have been making the trip for years. If you are one of those people, weigh in in the comments below for all the things I know I will miss here.
Myth: But it’s hot in Phoenix!
Actually, it’s not so hot in March. In fact, it’s about as close to perfect as you can imagine. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe the Weather Channel. They say the average high temperature is 76 degrees. No one can seriously complain about 76 degrees. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on to some advice.
Tips for Going to Spring Training
- Pack lots of sunscreen and wear caps. Sure, it’s a nice 76, but it is warm and the sun is bright. Take care of your skin.
- Arrive early to the game. Gates open about 2 hours beforehand. Why get there so early? It’s the only way you’ll score a spot by the dugout when the players do come out to give autographs.
- Early is also the way to get the best lawn seats. There are a few shade trees in Scottsdale Stadium, which makes this place almost heaven.
- The Giants Dugout is on the 1st base side.
- If you’re a lawn dweller (I definitely am), take a white or light colored sheet to sit on. It gets warm and if you are sitting on a warmer and/or darker colored blanket, especially fleece, it will literally burn you. Go for the sheet.
- Take a glove. You actually have a fairly decent chance of a home run or foul ball if you work just a bit for it. Also, during batting practice is a gold time to get balls…which you can later get signed by your favorite player.
- Food in the ballpark is expensive. Not AT&T Park expensive, but still expensive. Eat elsewhere. There is plenty of good food in the area. Our trick is to eat a good, large, and late breakfast since most of the games are around 1pm. That tides us over until dinner with a few snacks.
- The Lemonade is pretty good. One of the guys selling it is even cooler though. “Lemonade – Lemonade, just like Grandma made!”
- Without encouraging this, if you like your lemonade with something added, think cargo shorts and mini liquor bottles. They don’t pat you down, and as of last year, there were not metal detectors, etc…. However, they will look inside your bags.
- For autographs, take a sharpie (the thin ones that write like a pen are best). I take balls for them to sign, but you can use whatever. If you have a kid with you, you’re at a better advantage for getting autographs. Hang out by the dugout and right field areas and be patient.
- Know something about the players you’re getting autographs from. For example, take Brandon Crawford and Heath Hembree, players I successfully got autographs and a ball from. Kids typically yell, “Mr. Crawford! Mr. Hembree!” It’s polite and everything, but yelling out their nickname, “Professor!” or even knowing their first name if they are a minor leaguer, “Heath!” gets their attention, and usually gets you an autograph a little quicker.
- If you have a jersey of the player you are looking for an autograph from, that helps too. It shows you are invested enough in them to drop a bill on their jersey. They’ll take notice.
- Take notes of players who are playing well, especially if it’s not a name already on the Roster or not floating around out there. That way, when they get a call up, you can say, “I saw them in Spring Training and they played well,” like you know what you’re talking about.
- Catch a game at another stadium if you have the time. From my experience, depending on the stadium, you can often get way better seats, closer to the Giants dugout, for a lot cheaper than Scottsdale Stadium.
General Tips for the Area
- Don’t over plan your schedule. Day games where you are sitting in the sun all day can drain you. Allow time to rest a bit.
- Drive the speed limit mostly. Cameras are EVERYWHERE! And they WILL send your ticket to you through the mail.
- If you do get a ticket, request their online driving school. Saves the cost of the ticket and the points on your license. And yes, I’m speaking from experience.
- Places to eat: Morning Glory Cafe, Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles (We prefer the Phoenix location), Matt’s Big Breakfast (Get there super early or expect a LONG wait…great food though), The Sugar Bowl, Frank & Lupe’s.
- There is a dueling piano bar in Tempe called The Big Bang Bar. This place is super fun. Most memorable night ever from Spring Training.
- There are tons of things to do in the area. Pick your treat and do it. I prefer to focus mostly on relaxing and watching baseball, but there is plenty to keep you entertained.
- There is a free city garage parking next door to Scottsdale Stadium, but you’ll need to get there early to get a spot!
There is so much more I could add, but I’ll leave it there for now. If you’ve been to Spring Training and want to add your advice (which is probably far greater than mine), please comment below!
If you are planning on going this year, leave a comment. Several of us at ATF are planning on being there as well, from about March 5 – 10. We’re all arriving and leaving on different days, but we’re there over that weekend for sure, and potentially going to do a podcast there. We hope you let us know if you’re also going to be there then, as we’d love to hang out with you!
Do us a favor and share your favorite Spring Training Tips in the comments! Also, share this with any and all who may be thinking about going to Spring Training. It really is a great time!