Have a baseball-and-beach family vacation of a lifetime, with this Grapefruit League guide to ballparks, best beaches and hotels, family outing ideas, and even the latest pre-season inside baseball on the Pittsburgh Pirates from Sports Illustrated.
The Schedule: 33 games, with 17 home games (see schedule and buy tickets here)
The Field: McKechnie Field, built in 1922, is one of the oldest stadiums in Florida's Grapefruit League and has been home to spring training baseball since 1923. It’s named for Bradenton’s own Bill McKechnie, who led the Bucs to a World Series title in 1925. The Pirates have called Bradenton home since 1969.
Inside Baseball: For Pittsburgh, this seems to have been an off-season of half-measures: sign a reclamation project and a reliever, but hang onto your best trade chip and also decline to part with prospects for an ace. We will have clarity eventually, though. If the Pirates are still a middling team at the deadline, it will be much harder to stand still. For more on the Pirates, go here at si.com.
Family Outings: Walking distance from downtown, the is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast. The museum includes the Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium (home of Snooky, the world’s oldest manatee on record).
Splurge Stay: on Anna Maria Island is about 25 minutes from downtown Bradenton, with 12 two- or three-bedroom rentals with hotel services/amenities and access to a pool; oceanfront or right near the beach. Rates start at $399.
More Teams and Locations: To find more fun baseball and vacation information on each of Florida’s Grapefruit League teams, click on the links below:
Atlanta Braves: Lake Buena Vista
Baltimore Orioles: Sarasota
Boston Red Sox: Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers: Lakeland
Houston Astros: West Palm Beach
Miami Marlins: Jupiter
Minnesota Twins: Fort Myers
New York Mets: Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees: Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies: Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bradenton
St. Louis Cardinals: Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays: Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays: Dunedin
Washington Nationals: West Palm Beach