A Tour Around the Grapefruit League

Posted on 14 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

With Spring Training officially in high gear, Dan Wohl of MLB.com schools us on the winter homes of our beloved “Boys of Summer”. Today, he gave us 13 factoids on the cities of the Grapefruit League.

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Until the start of the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates make their home in Bradenton, Florida. Did you know that Tropicana (of orange juice fame) was founded in Bradenton back in 1947? While its headquarters are now in Chicago (probably why they are so good in the frozen concentrate department), its juice production center still remains in Bradenton.

Until Opening Day, you’ll find the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida – Clearwater is home to the Church of Scientology’s world headquarters. I’m not touching that with a 10-foot pole. I see what they did to Katie Holmes. Seriously, according to Wohl, around 12,000 Scientologists live in Clearwater. They own more than 200 businesses in the city’s downtown.

RA Dickey and the Blue Jays flew south to Dunedin, Florida — Founded by two Scots, Dunedin was named after Dun Eideann, the Gaelic name for Edinburgh. Sadly, that was all Wohl could find. A little boring, which is not unlike the team itself.

The Red Sox and Minnesota Twins can be found in Fort Myers, Florida. – In 1887, Thomas Edison built a winter home called “Seminole Lodge” in Fort Myers. Henry Ford built one called “The Mangoes” next door in 1916. Frankly, it all sounds like some place Blanche from the “Golden Girls” would hang out.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins fight it out in Jupiter, Florida — Originally the home of the Hobe Indian tribe, the Hobe was written by the Spanish as “Jobe.” A mapmaker misread it as “Jove,” which in turn was interpreted as Latin by a later mapmaker. He Anglicized the name to Jupiter. How did that get Anglicized but my big ol’ Italian name survived Ellis Island?

Kissimmee, Florida is home to the new look Houston Astros — Kissimmee is the annual host of the Silver Spurs Rodeo. That is the United States’ largest rodeo event east of the Mississippi River and the world’s largest collection of “Woody” from Toy Story look-a-likes.

Lake Buena Vista, Florida is home of the Brave(s) — Along with Bay Lake Lake Buena Vista is home to Walt Disney World and completely controlled by the Walt Disney Company. The two cities welcome 50 million tourists a year, employ 66,000 “cast members” and have a combined residential population of 57. I wonder if Chipper Jones is looking for a job.

Lakeland, Florida in a Tiger’s natural habitat. — Queen Elizabeth sent two swans to Lakeland in 1954 after a local resident wrote to her complaining about the eradication of the local swan population. All of Lakeland’s now-flourishing swan community descended from this royal pair. They’re all cousins? I though this was more of a West Virginia thing.

Melbourne, Florida has gone National — Melbourne was named in honor of its first postmaster, who was Australian. Nonetheless, it was actually founded two years after the Civil War by former slaves. Teddy Roosevelt, of Nationals’ President race fame, has been trying to move into the neighborhood. None of the front doors can accommodate their giant head.

In Port Charlotte, Florida, they are catching some Rays — Wayne Rooney of Manchester United owns a home in Port Charlotte. Americans still don’t get it.

Port St. Lucie, Florida is home of the Amazins — Port St. Lucie is also the current hometown of Robert Van Winkle, who you might know as Vanilla Ice. Somewhere there is a lawyer looking for a Bernie Madoff connection.

You can find the Orioles in Sarasota, Florida — Former home of circus magnate John Ringling, Sarasota is home to the Circus Museum and the former site of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. That was my safe school.

Tampa, Florida is home to the Yankees– Tampa is also apparently home to a yearly pirate-themed festival called “Gasparilla.” It is considered the American mecca of death metal as well. At the rate the Yankees’ spring training has started, well….that might be apropos.

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