Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Training - Opening Day, 2/24/2017

The first game of the Yankees' Spring Training was at 1:05 pm at their George M. Steinbrenner Field ( in Tampa. 

A life-size statue of George M. Steinbrenner (1930-2010), the owner and manager of the New York Yankees from 1973-2010, is at the front of the stadium. A small monument park is also located here (the original is, of course, at Yankee Stadium in New York) with plaques and retired numbers of distinguished members of the New York Yankees over the years.

We arrived about an hour before the game (and paid $20 for parking at a nearby private lot). There is $10 parking at nearby Raymond James Stadium (where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play). 

A $40M renovation of the stadium was completed this year which included replacing all of the seats and upgrades to all of the retail areas, suites, workout areas, and locker room. Check out the new scoreboard

We found our seats and saw the Phillies do some batting practice

While John stayed to watch the teams practice, I took a stroll around the stadium and took some pictures. Here's the layout of the stadium.

I loved the murals on the walls that tell the stories of the rich history of the Yankees. One of the most famous baseball quotes of all time was delivered on July 4, 1939, by Lou Gehrig during his speech at a home-plate ceremony on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Called the Iron Horse of baseball, he played 2,130 consecutive games until he was diagnosed with ALS. Gehrig died just two years after this. 

There are lots of other interesting facts and quotes painted on walls throughout the stadium. Here are ones by or about Babe RuthMickey MantleReggie Jackson describing Jim "CatfishHunter, and Yogi Berra

And the 6th game of the 1977 World Series when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs.  

The Team store was packed and people were buying lots of Yankees gear. 

The Yankee and Phillies teams and staff lined up for the National Anthem that was beautifully sung by a high school student from Tampa. 

I went to get us something to drink before the game started (there are clubhouses at either side of the stadium where they sell cocktails $10/each, food, beer, soda, etc.) Beer is sold at many kiosks, though, throughout the stadium. While I was there, they set off fireworks to celebrate the first game of Spring Training. All you can see, though, is the smoke!

As most of you know, Spring Training is a series of practice and exhibition games that precede the start of the regular Major League Baseball season. It allows players from the minor leagues to try out for positions on the team. Existing players also benefit from the practice time prior to the competitive season. 

Pitchers are normally swapped out every two innings. Here are some of the ones we saw. 

Here are a couple of the hits during the game. 

This is Vinny, who has been working at the Yankees Spring Training for 30years. Most people that walked by stopped to talk with him. He told me he was 88 years old, a veteran of WWII, and, of course, a die-hard Yankees fan. 

Two ladies (daughter, Jennifer, and her mother) sitting behind us had travelled from NYC and New Jersey for a Florida vacation and came to this Yankees spring training game. We enjoyed chatting with them on and off during the game. 

Also, friends, Pat and Joe, were also at the game and had seats near us. I knew Pat from my previous job, and we had dinner with them a month or so ago. 

Singing "Take me out to the ball game..." during the 7th inning stretch is a baseball tradition sure to bring a smile to your face! The final score of the game was Yankees 9, Phillies 4 (although the next day, the Phillies won 5 to 4). We have tickets for two more games in March and are looking forward to our next afternoon of baseball. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tampa Visitor Center and Riverwalk, 2/21/2017

With our extended stay in the Tampa Bay Area this winter, we are looking for things to see and do. Today, we took a drive to downtown Tampa to the Visitor Center. I have found local visitor centers in the many places we have been in the last three years to be a great way to learn more about area.  

It is located across the street from the Florida Aquarium ( in the Channelside Bay Plaza ( This is also the location of Tampa's cruise ship terminals. 

Movie theaters, restaurants, retail and businesses can be found in the Channelside Bay Plaza.

A couple of blocks from the Plaza is the entrance to the Tampa River Walk ( near the Tampa Bay History Center ( Because we had Sadie with us, we did not tour the History Center although it appears to be an interesting museum.

The Historical Monument Trail can be found along the Riverwalk. There are bronze busts and monument nets that tell the story of noteworthy individuals who shaped the history of the Tampa Bay Area. Here are some that we saw.

The Heroes Plaza was dedicated on 9/11/2009 and honors those in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, including the military, police officers, fire fighters, and emergency responders. 

The Native American Cenotaph is a memorial to the Seminole Indians who once possessed this land. They thrived here for hundreds of years until the arrival of the Spanish and then settlers. It is a "ceremonial space" for the Seminoles with plaques that describe their lives and eventual evacuation to a reservation in Oklahoma. Such a a very sad tale of usurpers seizing what was not rightfully theirs to take. 

There are numerous playgrounds along the Riverwalk. 

The Amalie Arena ( is a 20,000 seat facility that is home to the Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm. About 150 concert performances are also held at this venue throughout the year. 

The Water Shuttle stops near the Tampa Convention Center Docks. Electric boats (boats) and water bikes are available for rent here as well. 

The Jose Gaspar is the ship that carries the band of "pirates" who invade and capture the city during the annual Gasparilla festival. Multiple events are held in January, February, and March, that commemorate the legend of the pirate that raided the area years ago. 

The condos on the water with boat slips looks like a fun place to live! 

It was an enjoyable afternoon exploring and learning more about this part of Tampa. Sadie had fun seeing all of the sights as well!