Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 1962: Yanks play first spring training game in Lauderdale - On this day in Florida history - Florida History Network

Check out the recounting of when the New York Yankees spring training home was Ft. Lauderdale. Click title for link. From the article:
The New York Yankees played their first game at the new Fort Lauderdale Stadium in 1962 after moving their spring training headquarters from St. Petersburg. The team stayed in the city until 1995 before moving to Tampa. The Baltimore Orioles took over the stadium afterward and played until 2009 before moving to Sarasota. Fort Lauderdale Stadium has not hosted a major league baseball game since then. In fact, after more than a century of spring training baseball in Dade and Broward counties, the annual ritual has ceased to exist south of Jupiter, the shared headquarters of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, located 61 miles north of Fort Lauderdale and 88 miles north of Miami in northern Palm Beach County. 
And then this colorful recollection of the excitement surrounding the team, stadium and players back-in-the-day:
 Fort Lauderdale Stadium, built to resemble Yankee Stadium, "was a jewel among sludge," Pearlman wrote.  Local dealer Slaton Chevrolet gave each player a free car to drive. Pubs and nightclubs let them drink for free. Bikini-clad groupies combed the city, hoping to meet players.
Later, of course, came George Steinbrenner, Thurman Munson, Lou Piniella, Reggie Jackson. "You know what was great about Fort Lauderdale stadium? It was that we were genuinely beloved," asked early-80s catcher Rick Cerone.