Through the years the basic moods and sights in places like Tigertown, Dodgertown, Casa Grande and Mesa never truly change. The young pitcher must tough it out on diamonds far removed from those the big clubs use and both the known and the unknown hitters begin to grow blisters as they hit line drives out of the batting cages and against green wooden walls that bear advertisements for hamburger stands and used cars. There are, of course, other things that help explain why spring training calls people back spring after spring after spring. It is a time of laughter, hope and remembering for patron and player alike; a chance to see the tremendous skills of youngsters put out on the line every day for six weeks. Best of all, however, spring training is a chance to see the finest ball players in the world working and enjoying their work before the pressures of the regular season set the hard lines in their faces.
The shady end of the dugout always is the coolest spot in the park and the perfect place for a manager to practice sitting for days ahead.
On a warm morning in March what better way to relieve the sameness of training than to stand in the field and laugh as the pitchers try to hit?
The ball comes in at the batter as a white blur and he says to himself, "Just once I wonder what it would be like if the hitters got ahead of the pitchers."
Stretched out on the grass at their spring camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., the St. Louis Cardinals begin the morning calisthenics—a lovely tableau for viewers but a chore for the players.
In all of sport is there anything as meaningless as an intrasquad game played in March? Probably not, but it is a good time for a boy to rest and for oldtimers to pass the day.
WALTER IOOSS JR