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Phillies Fans’ Guide to Clearwater

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, March 01, 2011 07:30 AM | Comments: 5
Grapefruiting, Posts

March is here, and you know what that means – Spring Training! With a few games already behind them, the Phillies have started their quest for the 2011 World Series. Fortunately for fans, that journey always begins in sunny Clearwater, Florida. The Phillies have been coming to the area just off the Gulf of Mexico since 1915 and it has provided fans a warm haven from the final weeks of winter.

Phillies Nation has gone to Spring Training the past 6 years and after all the games, player sightings, sunburns, and parties, we’ve put together our Phillies Fans’ Guide to Clearwater.

To those fans who have not yet been on a Spring Training trip, I have one word for you – GO! It’s the most fun you’ll ever have…or the most relaxing time you’ve ever had….or both! In the meantime, read below for a taste of what you’ve been missing. The Guide is definitely a work in progress, so I’ve you’ve been to Spring Training, please offer your suggestions in the comments area.

Points of interest in Clearwater:

View Phillies Spring Training in a larger map

Photos from past Phillies Nation trips to Clearwater:

From Tim Malcolm’s 2009 piece, “Clearwater: A State of Mind

It’s a ritual that tracks back to the Model-T: Teams training for the upcoming season in warm-climate cities and towns, getting a jump on the season with some pitch-and-catch. The Phillies set shop in Clearwater in 1947; fittingly, many fans who frequent spring training became adults the very time the Phils landed in Florida. So, in a sense, these fans grew up with Clearwater. When they had enough money and time, they would travel south to catch the Phillies in action, take in the warm weather, play golf and enjoy life. In many ways, Clearwater is more about the fans than the ritual of season preparation.

Most days in Clearwater begin early, despite the partying undertaken the night before. Fans line up in droves outside Lenny’s, the classic Phillies-themed diner near Bright House Field. Owner Dan Farrell outfitted his diner this year to reflect the champs, showcasing new renderings of popular players and the Phillie Phanatic. Meanwhile, a sign over Lenny’s exclaims, “One Dollar Yuenglings.” Head to most bars, convenience stores and mini marts in the Clearwater area, and you can grab a six of Yuengling anytime.

Rummaging through the Phillies Majestic Clubhouse Store, too, is like landing at an American embassy — suddenly you feel at home looking at the logo-emblazoned T-shirts and stuffed Phillie Phanatics. And when at the practice fields at the Carpenter Complex, you’re suddenly a part of the family, walking alongside top prospects in street clothes, chatting with moms and dads, picking out the youngsters by their faces. Search long enough and see Scott Palmer running around, or Chuck Lamar pacing through the complex. For once the names you’ve heard and seem so untouchable are right there in plain view.

Of course, it’s not some awe-inspiring thing. They have jobs. They have lives. But when you follow a team so religiously, you tend to hold certain people to higher plateaus; to be able to humanize them and catch them in their most ethereal is quite taken. It’s fun watching a game at Citizens Bank Park, but on a small practice field in Clearwater? You’ll never see a major leaguer so up close again.

And you’ll never see a Philadelphian so unabashedly happy.

For Phillies fans, Clearwater is a diversion, as well. It’s a chance to soak in the heat while the city recovers from winter. And it’s a chance to reconnect with those regular haunts such as Lenny’s and Frenchy’s, a chance to buy that Phillies merchandise in preparation for the 2009 season. And it’s a chance to reconnect with old friends, sit around a table with a couple beers and chat about other friends, kids, college and high school, romances, and of course, the Phillies.

In many ways, Clearwater is a state of mind. It’s the place where we escape from our realities. We can forget about work, forget about responsibilities. We can merely concentrate on having the best time possible. And, of course, baseball. This is the time the nickname “The American Pastime” really means something.

Avatar of Brian Michael

About Brian Michael

Brian Michael has written 1147 articles on Phillies Nation.

Brian is the CEO of Phillies Nation which he founded in July of 2004.

 
 
  • Posts: 14 phillygirl17

    Avatar of phillygirl17

    Hey Brian- I completely understand and respect that you take the same post every year and modify it for that season. Silly to make an entirely new post when one that you have already written just needs to be tweaked. However, you might want to change the date in the next to last paragraph from 2009 to 2011.

     
    • Posts: 581 Brian Michael

      Avatar of Brian Michael

      Not sure I understand. I mentioned in the subtitle that it was reprinted from Tim Malcolm’s 2009 piece. If everyone knows its from 2009, why change it?

       
  • Posts: 3073 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Lenny’s and Frenchy’s. GOTTA check ‘em both out!!! At Frenchy’s you gotta get the world-famous grouper.

    This is a great article and spot on. Got back from Clearwater a week ago and it was a blast!! After 3 years of going down and seeing games, this was the first year we went to the first practices. I think it was actually better. Less people (although it WAS crowded) and a more up-close look at the players, coaches, broadcasters and news media. Charlie was “holding court” as he signed for almost an hour!! Man, that guy can work a crowd.

     
  • Posts: 2 sully4nd

    Avatar of sully4nd

    I’m leaving for Clearwater on Sunday, making my first trip to Spring Training. I can’t wait thanks for the guide.

     
  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Every year, we stay at the Holiday Inn on the beach and it’s a great atmosphere. Clean hotel right in the heart of town. It gets a little bit crazy around there at night being so close to Shepards, but other than that it’s right on the water with a great pool and pool bar. Can’t beat it.

    This year I’ll be going March 8-12 and March 23-27, the first of which I get to cover the team down there for the first time. Should be exciting. If anyone will be down during those dates, be sure to find me and say what up. We’ll be doing our show on 97.3 ESPN FM on Thursday March 10 from the Tiki Bar.

     
 
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