“Goats on way out”
When the Phillies take the field next week, it will mark the 70th consecutive year of spring training in Clearwater. They replaced the Cleveland Indians in Clearwater in 1947. Clearwater population then was around 15,000.
The very first team to hold spring training in Clearwater were the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers). While training in Winter Haven, FL, in 1936, the Phillies played Brooklyn in Clearwater that year. Thanks to Bob Warrington, there’s a photo from that game at Clearwater Athletic Field:
Phillies manager in 1947 was Ben Chapman. He provided a classic quote after a 13-1 licking by the Tigers in their first game on March 11. “I don’t intend to take any more 13-1 lickings. We’re playing every game as if it counted in the standings. This is not a try-out camp and it’s not a resting place for worn out ball players. I’ve already separated the sheep from the goats and the goats are on the way out.”
When did Brooklyn train in Clearwater? What was the name of the field? Where was it located? Answers to these questions and much more can be found at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
Scouting Season Underway
Johnny Almaraz, Director, Amateur Scouting, and his staff recently met to begin preparing for the June draft when the Phillies have the very first selection. Each area scout presented his top 15 prospects. That list will shrink over time.
Phillies had several scouts at the Compton Urban Youth Academy showcase in Los Angeles the other weekend. College programs have begun practices and scrimmages. Their seasons begin February 19.
Manned with game schedules, radar guns, lap tops and GPSs, the amateur scouts will be busy between now and the draft.
According to several reports, the draft is strong in college pitching this year.
For the group of pro scouts, their seasons are also beginning as the Phillies will cover every camp in Florida and Arizona.
Spring Training Memories
Chris Wheeler (PR, 1972-82; broadcaster 1983-2013; club ambassador, 2014-)
“My first trip to Clearwater was in February, 1972, first spring training and staying at the Ft. Harrison Hotel. Everyone lived there including the players. It was a tremendous bonding experience with the media present every afternoon in the ‘cheese room.’
“The first looks at the Complex and Jack Russell Stadium were almost a spiritual experience to a baseball nut who had only heard about those shrines through newspapers, photos and occasional black and white video.
“My most memorable experience was sitting with Larry Shenk in the hotel coffee shop for breakfast when he told me we were trading Rick Wise for Steve Carlton. We both knew it was going to be an unpopular move. It was. The rest is Phillies and baseball history. My first exhibition game also was memorable. Shortly before the game Larry said the PA announcer didn’t show up and asked me, ‘Have you ever done the PA and if I would do it today?’ I had never done any such work but I instantly replied yes. Except for two years when I was part of the TV team, I’ve been the PA announcer for every Clearwater home game since then.
“What do I like about spring training? Everything. Even back in the days when you worked long hours in PR. Now I have a chance to be around baseball, play golf and enjoy one of the prettiest locations in the country. What do I dislike about spring training? Easy. The day we leave town. It always goes too fast.”