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Grapefruit League

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Florida’s Experience with pro sports started with spring training and it brought the stars here before Florida had pro sports of its own. Spring training allows new players to try out and gives existing players practice time. Spring training has always attracted fan attention and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.

Teams train in either Florida or Arizona based on their geographic location in the U.S., with eastern teams playing in Florida and western teams training in Arizona. These have been nicknamed the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively, after plants typical of the respective states. The teams can play colleges, minor league baseball clubs, intra-squad games where members of the same team play against each other,  and split-squad games where games when one team is scheduled for two games in one day, so the team splits into two squads and each squad plays in one of the games.

The origin of the name “Grapefruit League” has several versions. One of the most popular myths was that Casey Stengel an American Major League Baseball right fielder and manager who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, threw a grapefruit at Brooklyn Dodgers manager Wilbert Robinson. But the accepted version is that aviator Ruth Law threw the grapefruit in 1915. Ruth had been throwing golf balls from her airplane to advertise a golf course and someone suggested throwing a baseball from her airplane. Wilbert Robinson, whose team was in the Daytona Beach area for spring training, agreed to try to catch the baseball. While flying 525 feet above Wilbert, Ruth realized she had forgotten her baseball and threw a grapefruit she had and when Wilbert tried to catch it, the grapefruit exploded in his face.