It happens every spring…

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 

As usually happens, my week has been filled with plenty of “good.” What stands out particularly for me this week, though, is that major league spring training is under way. For non-baseball fans, that bit of info probably doesn’t mean too much. For those who are fans of America’s greatest pastime, however, it’s one of the happiest events of the year!

I must confess, I’m a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan. When I say lifelong, I mean lifelong! I have some upcoming posts regarding just how that all came about. For now, though, all thoughts are on spring training and the beginnings of a brand new season.

Payne_-_From_RF_BW_V2T.jpg
photo courtesy of digitalballparks.com

Last season’s depression has been shunted into the never-want-to-think-about-it-again vault, replaced by nothing but happy, positive thoughts of maybe…just maybe!

Promises of fun times once again at the old ballpark brighten winter’s gloom and transport me back to so many wonderful days of summers spent riding the waves of my White Sox fortunes–or lack of same.

Growing up, I would forget about my White Sox during the winter months. Not because I didn’t care about them, but because I was too caught up in playing hockey and doing school things.

Then, as February got going during those years, I began to see small stories on the sports pages and perhaps a brief mention every now and then on the evening TV sports that Major League spring training camps would be opening pretty soon.

And I would begin to think about those wonderful spring days ahead, and winter wouldn’t seem so long.

Spring training in those days always seemed so very far away. Sarasota, where the White Sox trained and played their spring games at Payne Park, was way down in Florida, as were most other teams’ camps.

Having never been to Florida, or anywhere else in the South for that matter, I was quite unfamiliar with the lay of the land, other than it must be vastly different from my home in Huntington, Indiana.

Places like Sarasota, Pompano, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Bradenton, and Vero Beach sounded like sunny villages far, far away. And, I guess, to a young boy of 11, they probably were!

In my mind, I tried to picture and imagine what these remote, out-of-the-way Florida outposts looked like. Were there palm trees in the outfield? Or the blue Gulf of Mexico just over the outfield fence?

Did White Sox players spend hours every day shagging so many fly balls in the outfield under the hot sun? Were there orange groves all around? What did the players do when they weren’t working out or practicing? Oh, so many youthful questions! And since there wasn’t any TV coverage then, my young imagination was in overdrive.

Remembering the innocence that was my youthful imagining of White Sox spring training all these years later, has me eager for the new baseball season.

The White Sox haven’t been in Sarasota for several years, moving spring operations to Glendale, Arizona, in 1997, but I’m pretty sure spring training in the Arizona sunshine has created vivid images in the minds of young Sox fans the same as they did all those years ago for this not-so-young-anymore fan!

Until next time, that’s one good thing…
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