My wife and I went to Surprise Arizona this last week to see the Rangers.
It was our first time to go and I decided I wanted to tell you about my first Spring Training as credentialed media. I also wanted to give you some tips as a fan.
If you are a person who loves autographs, this may be your best chance to get one from a player. Access to the players is closer than you will ever get at an actual ballgame. Imagine going to your kid’s baseball or softball game when they are 8 or 9 years old. More than likely you were at some sports complex with multiple fields that were within a few feet of each other in between the backstops.
You also probably sat on metal bleachers that were less than 30 feet from home plate. That is the backfield of the Texas Rangers Spring Training facility. You are literally only 30 to 50 feet from your favorite big leaguers taking BP. If you yell their name, there is a greater than 50% chance they will at least acknowledge you.
— Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast (Recliner Nerd) (@reclinernerd) February 27, 2020
The best part is there are multiple fields. They have red lines on the pavement and red rope to keep you a few feet from the players as they go between fields for work. Imagine rope lines at a golf tournament. Here is another great thing about Spring Training. If you are into minor league prospects, you can sit around for free and watch them play games and simulated games on fields that are even further back than the major league ones. If you are a huge baseball fan who loves the Rangers then you need to make a trip to Arizona in March.
Besides getting close to your favorite players, you can go to Surprise Stadium and watch a big league game in what equates to a minor league stadium. However, you need to know that most of the big leaguers leave the game by the 5th or 6th inning.
Having credentials for spring training is a bit different than in Arlington. First of all your day starts at about 7 to 7:30 a.m. rather than three in the afternoon. The media has a room attached to the Rangers offices and clubhouse. You can plug in your laptop or electronics there. The clubhouse for players opens at 7:45 for home games and about 7 to 7:15 when the team is busing over to an away game.
The clubhouse is open for about an hour. You can usually capture guys in between workouts and breakfast at their lockers. There a lot of them. Remember that only 26 make the major league active roster.
There are over 70 lockers provided for big league camp. Once the hour is up the media makes its way back to the media room to await Chris Woodward. In Arlington, this is usually done in his office. Here he comes to the media. He updates anything needed by the beat guys and spends about 10 minutes before heading to the backfields.
Once Chris Woodward has finished you were basically on your own until game time. If it is an away game you might need to leave yourself an hour to get to the stadium. If the Rangers are playing at Surprise you could go to the back fields and watch players getting their work in. There are cages right next to the media room. You can go over there and watch players hitting in cages. Once the game time comes, you are in the press box like in Arlington.
Once the game ends, you go down underneath the stadium and onto the field to talk with Woody. This is very different than in Arlington. Once Chris was done so were we. Then it is on to dinner to talk baseball and have a couple of cold ones.
Surprise Arizona is a must on any Ranger fans bucket list. I can’t wait to go back and plan on this being a yearly event.
In the meantime, indulge me in this. It was a complete blast that I figure you all need to see.
Featured Image: Kathy Moore