Today, I did something I’ve never done before. I drove to Port St. Lucie, FL, (I guess two things) where I attended my first major league spring training baseball game. I paid $35.00 via Stubhub and got my ticket online. It was quick and easy. I did think it was kind of pricey, given it’s a spring training game, but the seating was decent and I would be close to the field. The overall deciding factor; I really wanted to go.
The New York Mets train in Port St. Lucie, and play at ‘First Data’ Field. It looks to be a fairly new stadium that holds up to 7000 people. It’s located in a new area of development and only a couple miles off I-95. Getting into the parking lot and stadium went smoothly, and the walk to the stadium was a short one. Oh yea, parking was $10.00 (nickle and dime you). One thing I immediately noticed was the intimacy of the place. Something you lose at the major league stadiums.
Walking to my seat, I took in the sights. Stadium personal galore to help you find your seat, bathrooms that you could use and not miss half the game waiting in line, concession prices that didn’t leave you penniless, $4.75 for a hot dog (Nathan’s), and $4.50 for a soda.
Finding my seat, I was happy with the view it afforded. I passed the time waiting for the game to start by watching the players loosen up on the field, and eavesdropping on the fans conversations about baseball in general, and the Mets in particular, all in the vernacular of heavy New York accents. (Here I go again with the stereotyping). I was definitely on the Mets fans side of the field.
On the other side of the field were the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets opponent for this game. Growing up, like most boys in my generation, I was into major league baseball, so much so that at one point, I could name every player on every team in the major leagues. That intensity faded over the years to where today, I’m lucky to name a handful of players (or even my own name). Both, the Mets and Cardinals have always been two of my favorite teams. I thought, what better way to step back towards the game than by seeing these two teams play.
It was a hot one, got up to 87 degrees and when the sun was out, it felt like it. Thankfully, it was a partly cloudy day and when the sun went behind a cloud, you could really feel the difference, it provided for a nice respite. The seats were comfortable, my butt made it through the entire game without going numb.
The game proceeded right along and ended up being an entertaining game (especially if you’re a Mets fan). It had a little of everything. There were strikeouts and double plays. A Double, triple, and home runs (by both teams). In the end, it was the Mets victorious over the Cardinals by a score of 9 to 1.
Leaving after the game was as uneventful as coming there was. Took about 15 minutes to get on the freeway and heading towards Vero Beach, FL.
Vero Beach, is just north of Fort Pierce, with Port St. Lucie, being just south of Fort Pierce. Running along all three of these city’s is Hutchinson Island, which was my destination. I was disappointing with the northern part of the island. It started out with the ubiquitous hire rise condo’s and developments, and ebbed away into high price single family homes, like in the 3-4 million dollar range. Their was only one park that I came across on the entire northern end of the island where you could see the Atlantic. With walls closing in the community’s on one side of the road, and vegetation covering the high end homes on the other side, it made for kind of a blah ride.
Leaving the island and heading back to the campground brought me through downtown Vero Beach. It shows Vero Beach’s history in its style and colors. Simple 50’s commercial architecture bathed in pastel colors. It looked clean and felt safe. It was really quiet, but then it was Sunday, late afternoon. From downtown, continued east through the city. With the lack of palm trees (but a whole lot of other kind of trees), and its general layout, it gave me a feeling of being in a Midwestern town.
Once back on the road and hitting the pastures, I knew I was back in Florida. On the way back to the campground I experienced another first in my life, I saw an alligator on the shoulder as road kill. It’s always so sad to see all the poor little critters killed by vehicles.
My first spring training game was a success, it was a good day.