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Articles in the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview


With spring-training exhibition games now in full swing, I thought you’d like to look at the articles I wrote for the two editions of the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview.

Here are links to the original, unedited text I submitted:


It looks at research conducted by ReviewTrackers on how attendees of exhibition games rank the ten parks of the Cactus League. (The image below gives you an idea of how it appeared in print.)


This breaks down ReviewTrackers’ analysis of the 13 Grapefruit League stadiums — including the one that finished #1 out of all 23! (Below is how it looked in the Spring Training Preview.)

Every week, you’ll find great articles like these in USA TODAY Sports Weekly! Subscribe today and take advantage of a special offer!

The most popular spring training park


by Joe Mock

To provide material for articles that I would be writing for the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview, I asked ReviewTrackers, a data-mining firm in Chicago, if they would do a research project. As they had done in 2017 with the regular-season parks of Major League Baseball (and I wrote this article about those results), I wanted them to examine online comments written by folks who had attended spring-training exhibitions. They agreed.

A couple of months later, Max Schleicher of ReviewTrackers informed me that they had completed their research on 36,000 user reviews by attendees of exhibition games. They summed up the findings in a wonderful paper called Voice of the Fan, which you can view on their website.

The report revealed their findings and provided context to the results by giving examples of actual online comments that supported why fans feel the way they do about the 23 spring-training ballparks. The report was fascinating. And the results surprised me.

As someone who has scrutinized every one of the 23 spring-training complexes, I expected the newer (i.e., more expensive) complexes like Salt River Fields in Arizona and The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (it just adopted this new corporate-sponsorship name, by the way) to top the rankings. After all, the architecture and amenities are, to me, phenomenal at these two facilities. And both cost a boatload of money to build. Read More

Looking ahead

Check out our look at the new ballparks that will be coming online in the next couple of years — starting with SRP Park in North Augusta, South Carolina. It will be the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League in April.

We’ll also check in on the progress of new parks in Amarillo (Texas League), North Port (Braves spring training), Fayetteville (Carolina League), Las Vegas (Pacific Coast League) and more. (Photo of the Braves’ spring training site courtesy of Fawley Bryant)

Click here to find the article!

The Ballpark Year In Pictures

It’s time for our annual review of the biggest news stories in the world of ballparks!

As usual, it was an eventful year, with openings (West Palm Beach, Hartford, Atlanta) and one closing (Augusta), while several big-league teams made news about new facilities. And one tiny ballpark even got to host Major Leaguers for one evening!

Check out our photo essay on the biggest stories from 2017!

Happy Birthday … to us!

Twenty years ago this week, I started I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time, but the site you’re looking at today had its beginnings exactly two decades ago.

Well, sort of.

It started out with my desire to show others the photos I’d taken of baseball parks over the course of my life.  At the time, I subscribed to the wildly popular America Online or AOL. It was all the rage, and the service spawned the ubiquitous phrase “you’ve got mail.”

Imagine, you could write letters to other people without having to drop them in a mailbox or fax them — and they’d get them really quickly! Well, usually they would get them. You could even post your thoughts on AOL’s topical message boards and interact in real time with like-minded folks in something called a “chat room.”

It was all so high tech!!  All it took was a modem and a phone line, and after some odd squealing sounds, you could communicate with people all over the world! Well, until your connection was abruptly dropped, or someone else in the house tried to use the phone! Read More

About the Author

Joe Mock

I surprised myself recently when I determined that I had visited 349 different parks where Major or affiliated Minor League teams are either current or former tenants. That's a lot of pro-baseball stadiums. Read More ❭❭