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The Official Twinkie Town 2017 Spring Training Guide

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Planning a trip to Ft. Myers, Florida this season? Come read about the tips and experiences from your fellow Twinkie Towners.

Damian Miller Twins

March is here, and you know what that means—Twins Spring Training is in full swing down in Ft. Myers, Fl!

Are you planning on attending this year, or maybe interested in going sometime in the future? Then you’ve come to the right place! Since I’ve never been to Spring Training myself, I asked the good people of Twinkie Town to send in their best tips, stories, and experiences about what it’s like being down in Ft. Myers.

Here are some of the most common themes and best points from those of you who weighed in.

Traffic

Probably the biggest and most common point made about Twins spring training is that the traffic can be pretty bad. Ft. Myers is not the biggest town in the country, and when it is suddenly inundated with all of the players/fans/media/etc. for two major league baseball teams (the Red Sox are there too, of course) for a month, I can see how things could get hairy.

It seems like the traffic is really only at its worst in certain areas and at certain times. As less cowbell, more ‘neau said, “[E]specially getting on and off Ft Myers Beach and Sanibel Island can be a problem. God help them if they ever have to evacuate for a hurricane or something.”

Jim Crikket—who has over a decade of experience attending spring training—tended to agree, writing his take on the traffic:

I've never found traffic to be too bad around the ballpark. Daniels Pkwy and 6 Mile Cypress can get congested, especially on game days or at 'rush hour', but anyone who has driven in a city of any size (even such as Cedar Rapids) routinely drives in far worse traffic.

The only two places I've had significant traffic issues are:

(1) Sanibel Island - one bridge to access and all relatively narrow roads where you really can't pass anyone. It's congested. Sanibel is really pretty and I recommend a trip there, but do it when you have most of a day to kill, because if you end up in a rush, you'll get frustrated.

(2) Getting on/off Ft Myers Beach.. Again, very limited access and at rush hour, it's busy. To make matters worse, they began a major reconstruction project on the main road along Ft Myers Beach that will take several years to complete. If you're going primarily for baseball, don't stay in Ft Myers Beach.

Maybe less cowbell and Jim Crikket have a high tolerance for traffic, because clutterheart found it so bad he recommended not even going to spring training at all.

He described his experience, in part, as follows:

Only once a few years ago we went during Spring Training and I planned to see some Twins games. I was excited as I was living abroad and it was great to be back in the States and I was super excited to watch live baseball. But oh wow I hated it. Lots of people, and the infrastructure just couldn't handle it. We sat in traffic for an hour and decided to turn around and go fishing. My brother says its the worst when the Red Sox and the Twins play.

So if you’re the kind of person who cannot tolerate traffic, maybe Ft. Myers isn’t the right vacation for you.

Parking

If traffic is bad, parking must be horrible, right? In fact, it doesn’t seem that terrible. less cowbell, more ‘neau gave a basic rundown on how parking works at Hammon Stadium:

When you get there the first thing you'll see is a line of police cars. DON'T PANIC! My first impulse was to hang a hard U-ey and start tossing stuff out the window before the chopper started hovering over me, but they're just there to direct traffic.

Parking is easy. They will direct you exactly to your spot. It cost $5 last time I was there.

Bill Zepp specifically mentioned hanging out in the parking lot and tailgating before games, which I’ve heard is a thing people tend to do down there.

clutterheart, of course, thought parking “stunk”, but it’s not even clear from his post that he ever made it to the actual stadium.

Tickets?

There was some disagreement on the best way to get tickets. less cowbell said you should absolutely buy your tickets in advance, but acknowledged he hasn’t been there for a few years. Bill Zepp said you can usually just find tickets in the aforementioned parking lot of buy them as a walk-up at the ticket office.

You might have to play this one by ear.

Players Access

A big piece of advice here was to keep your expectations in check. It’s spring training—meaning you aren’t going to see every star player play in every game or all game.

But that can also be sort of the fun aspect of it. Jim Crikket—who, if you aren’t familiar with, lives in Cedar Rapids and closely follows the Kernels—said that watching minor league players and workouts (which are free to watch) was one of his favorite aspects on spring training. Several people liked that you can get a real close up look at the players. Bill Zepp specifically mentioned one of his favorite memories was waiting with his kids to get players’ autographs after a game.

In summary: You can see a lot of players in a cozy and close up environment, just don’t expect most of them to be superstars.

Game Atmosphere

Games were described as having a cozy atmosphere—maybe even a bit too cozy, as Bill Zepp explained:

At night game at the stadium where we sat right behind third base 10 rows up, a foul ball whipped past my sons head and broke the guys shoulder sitting behind us.

For the most part, however, the game atmosphere seems to be pretty light-hearted. Crowds tend to skew slightly older. Jim Crikket likes “to spend at least one game out in the newer outfield sections where things are less crowded and more casual.”

There are also more serious attendees, as less cowbell explained:

Behind home plate there is a cluster of people with radar guns, they're scouts. All of their radar gun readings show a different number. I saw someone try to make a lame joke about a player to them once, they didn't seem to appreciate the "help."

less cowbell also called the food from the grill “delicious”, and Jim recommended the beer shakes.

Oh, and sunscreen. Bring sunscreen, and use it.

Other Activities

If you don’t want to just watch baseball all day what is wrong with you there are other cool things to do in Ft. Myers too. Bill Zepp outlined his typical Spring Training trip, which included golf, lots of dinners (“Potts - we have run into Mauers, Lavelle Neal, Blyleven and Jack Morris”), hanging out at the cigar store downtown (“we ran into Gladden and Pags a couple years ago”), and , of course, attending a game (one per trip was enough for him).

If you’re like less cowbell, and gold and cigars aren’t your thing, you can look for sea shells—which less cowbell had a strangely large section of his fanpost devoted to:

Shelling:

* Not all beaches are created equal, but you should still be able to get good shells whatever beach you're on.

* If it's got a critter still inside, put it back. It's not only illegal to dig the little guy out of his home, you're also condemning him to a horrible death. Take a picture instead.

* If a sand dollar is dark and fuzzy, it's alive. If it's bleached and not fuzzy, it's dead.

* If a starfish is stiff and wet, it's alive. Starfish move very slowly. If it's wet and limp or dry and spongy, it's probably dead.

* Best time to go is low tide after a windy day or night.

Miscellaneous

“Don't tease or get to close to any gators, they're most likely not tame or friendly.”


Do you have any spring training tips, stories, or memories?

Big thank you, of course, to Jim Crikket, Bill Zepp, less cowbell, clutterheart, and everyone from social media who shared their tips with us!