I loved Gary Mormino's piece on the first spring training in St. Pete in 1914
It was a glorious winter. Tampa Bay basked in warmth while northern climes shivered. Prosperity and new revolutions in technology reinforced the oft-expressed opinion that it was the best of times to live in St. Petersburg. Each week, it seemed, a new building or announcement heralded progress.
But progress came with a steep price. Critics complained of profligate spending, new ballparks and municipal piers. A fierce debate over the morality of a popular vice divided citizens and forced the issue to the ballot box.
It was February 1914. "St. Petersburg has," began a Times column, "33 hotels ... 9 Protestant churches ... 8 restaurants ... 7 public parks ... 6 shoe stores ... 5 bakeries ... 4 ice cream parlors ... 3 millinery stores ... 2 Chinese laundries ... and one Confederate veteran camp." Amid technological triumphs (the Tony Jannus flight), civic pride (a municipal pier) and morality debates (St. Petersburg fiercely resolved to prohibit Demon Rum), one event validated the city's progress: Major league baseball was coming to town.