Baltimore Orioles’ pitchers and catchers are set to report to Sarasota in just over two weeks. I can feel the excitement out there. In fact, pitchers and catchers report is one of the finest phrases in the English language.
That aside, this will be the tenth year that pitchers and catchers (and eventually position players) will be reporting to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. The Orioles first moved there from Fort Lauderdale in 2010. When they first arrived the stadium and complex was showing it’s age, although it was light years better than their former facility in Fort Lauderdale. But how quickly things progressed…
…the Orioles almost immediately (after that first season at Ed Smith) started pumping money into the ballpark and the complex. They also invested big time in the Sarasota community. And that’s something that’s truly paid dividends for the Orioles, as Sarasota’s really embraced them. Sarasota’s as much a part of Birdland as downtown Baltimore.
Once the team breaks camp and vacates the park after spring training, the Gulf Coast Orioles move in and make Ed Smith Stadium their home during the Gulf Coast season. As I said, the Birds invested in Sarasota big time ten years ago. And that’s continued. Furthermore as a result, Ed Smith Stadium is considered one of the premier spring training facilities in baseball.
Put it this way – when the O’s trained in Fort Lauderdale, it was getting to the point to where it was hard for them to get a schedule together because teams didn’t want to come to play them. The facilities were antiquated, and the ballpark was falling apart. Then in 2010 they made the move to Fort Lauderdale, and once they began renovating the facilities and making it into the great place it is today, they had teams lining up to come and play them. It’s been an incredible transformation.
So hats off to both the Orioles, and the Sarasota community. Both are equally invested in one another, and it shows. And they’ll celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their union this spring.