Live from Hammond Stadium! Spring Training in Fort Myers brings fans together annually from all different parts of the country to enjoy baseball’s greatest traditions in sunny Southwest Florida.
Thousands flood into Hammond Stadium, anxiously awaiting the face-off between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Minnesota Twins. Some choose to soak up every last bit of the warm sunlight in the parking lot, enjoying the company of family and friends, while others hurriedly make way for the entrance to the stadium.
Standing outside of the stadium, we meet Chris Aiden and his two sons. Loyal Twins fans, they ventured southbound to see their team, but also intend to make time for fishing at the beach. We discuss expectations for the Minnesota Twins’ upcoming season and though they admit that the Twin Cities has struggled in the past, they feel optimistic for the 2017 season.
As we head towards the VIP media gate, we run into Vic, a Pittsburgh native turned Fort Myers resident and life-long Phillies fan. As an employee of Hammond Stadium, Vic says that the job keeps him busy and has afforded him the opportunity to see many talented young players rise up through the ranks. He thoroughly enjoys Southwest Florida for its quality fishing and perfect baseball weather.
The game is underway and we take to the lawn seats to admire the game from a real fan perspective. Here, we meet Diane and Keith from Northfield, Minnesota, who traveled down to Southwest Florida to watch their own son play college baseball and were thankful to catch a Twins game during their trip. True baseball fans, they have no connection to the Fort Myers area besides baseball and Twins spring training, however, they are enjoying the sunshine and hope to make a trek to the beach.
Amid the warm sun and roaring crowds on the lawn, we meet Finley Wilke, a seven-year-old Minnesota resident and future TV personality prospect, who tagged along with his family to watch his favorite team play in Fort Myers. A baseball player himself, Finley has great adoration for the game. Finley’s face lights up with excitement as he explains that if he could say anything to a Twins player he would say, “Play great and do your best!” Finley’s favorite player on the Twins is Joe Mauer, in part because Mauer shares the same number as his age. His dream is to play at Hammond Stadium someday when he becomes a famous Twins player.
Each interaction we have with the fans differs greatly from the next. However, each spectator bears a great appreciation and passion for the sport. All visitors in attendance can admit that they are thankful not only for the opportunity to watch their Minnesota Twins but also for all of the spectacular amenities Southwest Florida has to offer.