Doug's Diggings: Never thought I’d pay $45 for spring baseballThere is nothing more exciting for a baseball fan than sitting in the Florida sunshine and watching a spring training game — the crack of the bat, the warmth of the sun and the optimism of the upcoming season.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
There is nothing more exciting for a baseball fan than sitting in the Florida sunshine and watching a spring training game — the crack of the bat, the warmth of the sun and the optimism of the upcoming season. Spring training is great because win or lose, every team is essentially a threat to win the World Series.
I had the good fortune to again attend a couple of Twins pre-season games in Fort Myers, Florida. The only difference this year is that I paid $45 for a $23 ticket to get into a game!
Let me back up a bit. We were able to visit the home of the wife’s sister and her husband, Sandy and Tom Wells of New Richmond, and Fort Myers. We had a great week of fun and relaxation.
Tom had ordered tickets for a Twins game on Monday, March 14. We went to Hammond Stadium and were part of the sell-out crowd that watched the Twins defeat the Florida Marlins 9-0.
The next day, Sandy’s and Tom’s daughter and husband, Meagan and Derek Widner of River Falls arrived in Florida. On Wednesday (March 16), Derek and I decided to try and go to a Twins game at Hammond Stadium against the New York Mets. We knew the game was another sellout, but figured we could pick up some tickets.
I have often seen people selling tickets near the stadium and usually you can get them at around face value, or even less. Unfortunately, it was announced that Wednesday would be Joe Mauer’s first spring game in which he would play — unfortunate from a “scalping” point of view. The next unfortunate event was that the Twins were playing the Mets so there were plenty of New York people looking for tickets.
After we parked, the first person offering tickets was asking $90 per ticket! A bit later we found some for $75, then $70. As it got closer to game time, we found some for $50. We talked the seller down to $45 and bought two tickets. The actual ticket price was $23 — seems almost criminal to pay $45 for a spring training game! I guess I can justify it because the last time I went without a ticket, somebody gave us free ones.
Again, it was a glorious sunny day and for a baseball fan it was a great afternoon. The Twins won 4-3.
The rest of our time in Florida was spent doing outdoor activities. My wife and I walked the beach nearly every morning. Sandy’s and Tom’s house is on Fort Myers Beach and is located about 2.5 miles from an area known as Times Square — a mini downtown area with shops, restaurants, a park, beach and pier. Each day we walked the beach from the house to the pier, grabbed a bite to eat, and walked back — at total of about five miles.
Most afternoons were spent either at the beach or at the backyard swimming pool at the house. One of the days we spent biking on Sanibel Island. The trip included a ride through the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the island. The 5,200 acre refuge, established in 1976, is part of the United States National Wildlife Refuge System and is named for the cartoonist Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling.
Darling (1876-1962) was one of the most well-known men of his era. A Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated editorial cartoonist, he was famous for his witty commentary on the many different subjects that concerned the nation.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Darling became alarmed at the loss of wildlife habitat and the possible extinction of many species. As an early pioneer for wildlife conservation, he worked this theme into his cartoons and influenced a nation. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Darling as the Director of the U.S. Biological Survey, the forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In his 18 months as director, Darling initiated the Federal Duck Stamp Program, designed the first duck stamp, and vastly increased the acreage of the National Wildlife Refuge System. He also designed the Blue Goose logo, the national symbol of the refuge system.
We were in Florida for eight days and virtually never saw a cloud. Every day was in the mid-80s. We have spent a week or so in Florida each spring and this was one of the most remarkable weather-wise. When we returned to Hudson on March 19 we were happy to see that much of the snow had melted and felt that spring had arrived in Wisconsin. On the following Tuesday and Wednesday, we discovered spring had been delayed!