Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring training fans ignore chilly wind for Dunedin's opening game

DUNEDIN

On Wednesday morning, as the Toronto Blue Jays did drills in the outfield, Zack Byrne clutched his baseball book.

He had prepared for this day, the second of spring training, when baseball would again begin to bloom. He had avoided game days when planning his classes at the University of Tampa and, to get ready for autographs, scrubbed his glossy baseball cards with an eraser.

It didn't matter that he wasn't rooting for the Jays or their opponent, the Detroit Tigers. It didn't matter that clouds and cold air hung overhead. It didn't even matter that Dunedin Stadium, where he had paid $20 a ticket, was rookie-sized compared with larger fields across the state.

The love of the game, and the unsigned cards in his baseball book, were reason enough.

"I just love baseball … and there really isn't a bad seat in this stadium," Byrne said. "It just has that old-school spring training feel."

Byrne and nearly 3,100 others watched the Jays' spring opener Wednesday, the first of 14 for the team that has made Dunedin its home for decades.

The stadium, regarded by some at the game as a small-scale arena and small-town treasure, seats 5,500. The Jays share the neighborhood field with a minor-league team and the Falcons of Dunedin High School.

Chris Chartier of Montreal said that's what drew him to Dunedin. Unlike other large stadiums, he and his 6-year-old daughter, Autumn, both clad in Disney wear from trips to Orlando theme parks, can sit near the dugouts and run across the field after the game.

"The intimacy is still there," he said.

But the open-air stadium, due to Wednesday's cool winds, proved too cold for some. Mike Mundy has attended spring training games for 34 years and, with a home in Ontario, about an hour outside of Detroit, called himself a fan of both teams.

"This is awful," he said, before bundling up and running to his seat.

Before the game, warm indoor nooks like the Thirst Inning Lounge became standing-room only. Yet after Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers threw the first pitch, the afternoon sun began to heat the stands enough for some to say that, at times, it felt almost like spring.

Linda and Chuck Weindorf, who live on Long Island but spend winters in Hudson, said they came to the game because it was "supposed to be warm." They stuck it out because they liked the stadium's "quaintness."

"If we want a ballgame at Citi (Field) or Yankee Stadium, it's massive," Linda said. "But here, this is so nice. It's beautiful. It's perfect."

It wasn't enough, though, she said. Minutes later, she joined a line to buy hot chocolate.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Spring training fans ignore chilly wind for Dunedin's opening game 03/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Forecast: Soggy, yet hot, workweek ahead across Tampa Bay

    Weather

    A soggy workweek is ahead across Tampa Bay as decent chances for scattered storms remain consistent over the next several days.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Travel ban, Kennedy retirement speculation the focus as Supreme Court prepares for break

    Courts

    WASHINGTON — Before taking their long summer break, the Supreme Court justices are poised to act on the Trump administration's travel ban and a separation of church and state dispute involving a Missouri church playground.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown in 2007, has given no public sign that he would step down this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more

    Blogs

    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  5. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights

    Fire

    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.