I recently spent 5 days in Florida with my wife to experience spring training for the first time. I must say as an avid baseball fan I do not think there is a better overall experience. It is a must have experience if you love baseball and after going once I know this will be a yearly trip. I want to share my experience and give you guys a guide on how to make your trip as great as mine. As rookies to spring training we learned a lot from fellow fans who attend every year so I will pass on these tips. First I must say being a die-hard Met fan my entire life and attending the World Series and the playoffs of 2006 and countless other games this trip has made me fall in love with the Mets even more if that is even possible. Being able to see these guys up close and interact with them is truly special. It was so special that my wife who was a Yankee fan has now converted to the orange and blue. The highlight of the trip for us was meeting David Wright, his wife and daughter at dinner. We went to this beautiful restaurant call Jetty in Jupiter, Fl and as we were waiting to be seated my wife turns to me and says “That is David Wright sitting at that table”. I do not believe her at first and when I turn around to look I am not sure at first but then realize that is David Wright ! Our table is ready and the host guides us to our table and just so happens to walk us right by David’s table. I will be honest I get star struck and very embarrassed to talk to any celebrity. In this situation though I had to say something because I feel David Wright’s pain myself having had 2 back surgeries in this past year at the age of 30. I stop and say Hello, shake David’s hand and go to our table. Sitting at my table happy as hell I then start to think to myself, damn I should have gotten a picture. I begin to beg my wife to go to their table and ask for a picture because I figure who can say no to a pretty girl ? As fate would have it we are sitting next to the bathroom and David Wright walks in to use the bathroom. I think to myself if I walk in that bathroom right now he will call the police so I stay seated. When he walks out my wife stops him and starts a conversation. He is as nice as can be and talks to us for 5 minutes and then takes a picture with me. I do not even remember what I ate, I was that excited about a picture with a guy I have watched and rooted for my entire life. Sounds stupid but as I recover from my injuries I always tell my wife if guys like David Wright can have the same problems and play a professional sport I will be fine in my everyday life. Anyone who says David Wright should just retire does not realize he is an inspiration and should be respected for what he is going through and his will to get back on that field. Thank you David and I want nothing more for this guy to get back on the field, contribute, and win a World Series, he deserves it. Now on to some tips on how to get the most out of your trip.
Where to stay- Getting a hotel in or around Port St Lucie where the Mets play is not that easy this time of the year. It is also pretty pricy so I would suggest locking your hotel far in advance. My suggestion is to stay in West Palm Beach at the Marriott. Beautiful hotel and only about a 45 minute drive to Port St Lucie. We ran into Mayor Rudy Giuliani there and had a great conversation with him also. The nice part about staying in West Palm is it is one of the nicest areas you will see in America , you are right at the beach and there is plenty of shopping and great restaurants around. About 2 minutes from the hotel is Donald Trump’s Mar-a -Lago, the world-famous Breakers hotel, and countless million dollar homes including a 42 million dollar mansion that is just unreal. It is also about 3 minutes to the airport which is great.
Game Tickets- We made a rookie mistake in this one. Tickets for good seats are surprisingly expensive (about $80 per seat I paid for section 110, right next to the Met’s dugout) but you do not really need to sit there. The reason I bought those tickets was because it is a great place to get autograph’s from the players. What I found out is security is very relaxed there and pregame you can simply stand in the section if you want a chance at autographs. Most games are not sell outs especially if you go during a week day so you can pretty easily move closer to the field if you want. Also even though it is March it gets pretty hot (about 85 degrees ) and the sun is strong so I would suggest buying tickets anywhere behind home plate because the entire area is shaded by the stadium’s press boxes. I bought the tickets on stub hub which has plenty and you can also buy scalped tickets very easily if they are sold out.
Autographs and player interactions- Spring training is the best place to pick up autographs from the players and interact with them. There are 3 places to get autographs and I will rank them in order. The third best spot to get a ball signed is in section 110 and 111 before the game. They let you in the stadium for a 1:10 pm start at 11:30 so no matter where you are seated you should head down to section 110 for the Mets and section 111 for the visitors. Try to get in the front row in the middle of the section not near the dugout entrance. The players will be out and about warming up and some will come over and sign balls for the fans standing there. My wife got Tim Tebow like this and Curtis Granderson is always signing balls pregame. The second best place is in the parking lot by the players lot. The lot is behind a black fence and the players pull out on the same road everyone else does. The starting players leave pretty much right after they are pulled from the game so if you want anyone in particular make sure to leave the game and stand there pretty soon after that player is pulled out of the game. If they are in the mood they will stop and sign some balls. This is a good spot because there are only a handful of people standing there especially if the game is still going on. We got Neil Walker, Zach Wheeler, and Steven Matz by standing there and just missed Yoenis Cespedes who stopped and signed for a few people. The best place by far is back on the practice field early in the morning. This was a tip we got from some guys who come every year. Get to the ballpark at 9 am or earlier and they let you in to the back of the complex where all the practice fields are. You do not even need game tickets to do this so if you just want to watch the players work out and get some balls signed this is for you. Pretty much every player is out there at some point getting some work in before the game. When we got there Jacob Degrom, Steven Matz, and Marcus Molina where taking BP and Matt Harvey and Addison Reed where getting some running in. Watching Matz, Degrom, and Molina hit was very impressive and makes you realize how athletic these guys really are. Matz and Degrom were easily cranking home runs and if you did not know any better you would think they were hitters not pitchers. As we were watching them hit on the field behind us Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Travis Taijeron, Wilmer Flores, Travis D’Arnaud, Matt Reynolds and Amed Rosario came out to hit BP and Terry Collins was hanging around shagging some balls chatting with the fans. Once the players got done with their work most of them came over to the fence and signed balls. We got Addison Reed, Marcus Molina, Matt Harvey, Matt Reynolds, and Michael Conforto along with many great shots of the guys up close. They do not kick you out of the back fields until all of the players are done working out so you can literally stand out there all day if you want because once the big leaguers head in, the minor league guys are still out there.
I have not been this excited for a Met’s Season Since the 2007 year in terms of confidence in the team to win. Getting to interact with most of the team and seeing them put in the work up close only makes me more pumped. By the way not only did we get Tim Tebow’s autograph but we got to witness his first major league hit which had the crowd going crazy. We also got to see Noah Syndergaard up close pitch which was unreal as well. His stuff is on a different level from everyone else. If you are a baseball fan make sure at some point in your life you get down to see your team in spring training you will not regret it.