One great reason to attend spring training: you have the time to see as much baseball as humanly possible. If you’re like us, that means scheduling doubleheaders throughout the trip. Here’s some advice as you build your own 2019 spring training doubleheaders in Florida.
Believe it or not, you do see a very small number of scheduled doubleheaders in spring training: for instance, the Texas Rangers have a day-night doubleheader set for Surprise Stadium on March 11. Alas, the only team that regularly scheduled doubleheaders, the Boston Red Sox, in 2019 are opening the JetBlue Field slate against Northeastern in a single game. For many years the Red Sox played both Northeastern and Boston College on that first day of exhibitions, but not so in 2019. (We had the unique experience of a tripleheader in 2018, with the Red Sox hosting BC and Northeastern in the afternoon, followed by a night match across town featuring the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Minnesota Twins.)
Of course, the easiest way to see two games a day is to set up your own schedule. In this story we’ll look at Grapefruit League doubleheaders; later this week we’ll look at Cactus League doubleheaders.
College baseball is alive and well in Florida, even when you move past the large programs (University of Florida, Florida State, Miami) and focus on the communities hosting spring-training games. That means plenty of good baseball is played throughout the state.
One of our favorite doubleheaders involves the Detroit Tigers and the Florida Southern College Mocs. The pair won’t play this spring because of scheduling issues, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan on seeing both teams in action. The Mocs play at historic Henley Field, the former spring home of the Tigers (and the Cleveland Indians before that), and the place still has plenty of charm emanating from an old-time Florida feel. The FSC schedule overlaps with the Tigers’ tenure in TigerTown, so you have plenty of weekend night games to choose from. You can view the Detroit Tigers schedule here; the Mocs have not yet released a schedule, but the home page for the baseball program is here.
In Orlando, the University of Central Florida Knights play at a lovely college ballpark, John Euliano Park, and they bring in some solid opponents, including Auburn, VCU, Penn State and Tulane. You can begin your baseball day with an Atlanta Braves game at Champion Stadium and then make the drive across Orlando to UCF. You can view the Atlanta Braves schedule here; you can view the UCF Knights schedule here. A backup approach would involve the Rollins College Tars, who play out of the charming Alfond Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field in downtown Winter Park. A Tars game and some post-game cocktails in one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Orlando is certainly a viable spring-training itinerary. (A Tar, by the way, is a sailor—a remarkable nickname for a land-locked college.)
In Tampa, it’s not that hard to build an MLB doubleheader, as the New York Yankees schedule many night games and the spring-training ballparks for both the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays are within an easy drive. (A little farther afield but definitely doable: A Pittsburgh Pirates day game at LECOM Park and a night game at Steinbrenner Field.) If college action is more your style, the University of South Florida Bulls play at USF Baseball Stadium, which opened in 2011 and is a lovely place to take in a night baseball game. As a bonus, USF Baseball Stadium is relatively close to Steinbrenner Field, making for an easy commute. You can view a Yankees schedule here. USF has not released a 2019 schedule, but the baseball home page is here. A backup plan would include a night game at the University of Tampa Baseball Field, located across the river from downtown Tampa and adjacent to the trendiest parts of Tampa. That location allows for one of the nicest views from any Tampa-St. Pete ballpark, and it’s close to Plant Hall, the core of the University of Tampa campus. This building began life as the Tampa Bay Hotel and served as a training base for the Yankees; it’s on an adjacent field where Babe Ruth reportedly hit the longest home run of his career. You can view the 2019 University of Tampa Spartans schedule here. (We delve more into Tampa, the University of Tampa and local spring-training highlights in The Complete Guide to Spring Training 2019 / Florida. Tampa has turned into a very trendy city, and we cover all the hotspots, including more info on the Babe in Florida, in greater detail in the book.)
Finally, we circle back to Fort Myers and Lee County, where the Minnesota Twins and the Red Sox play plenty of night games between the two of them, making it easy to see both home ballparks in a single day. (We hedge a little, since the Red Sox as of today have not posted game times.) But if you want a unique doubleheader, check out the schedule for Florida SouthWestern College, especially if you’re a Red Sox fan. Why? The Bucs play home games at the former spring home of the Red Sox, City of Palms Park. You see the modern Red Sox at JetBlue Park and then head into town to see the Bucs at City of Palms Park. You can view a Red Sox schedule here; Florida SouthWestern has not released a 2019 schedule, but the baseball home page is here.