For those of you that have complained about the Dodgers opening the season in Pittsburg, think again. During part of World War II, all of the MLB teams were required to abandon the Grapefruit League and the warming air of the Southwest, and hold spring training in cities located above the Mason-Dixon Line. Six of the then 16 MLB teams held spring training in Indiana and formed the short lived “Limestone League”. Only some of these teams actually were able to train in nice weather. You can presume that those teams chose to play in a college town whose university had a field house.
The Limestone League included teams that held spring training in the following “metropolitan” areas:
- Reds – Bloomington, IN -1943-1945
- Tigers – Evansville, IN -1943-1945
- White Sox – French Lick, IN – 1943-1944; Terre Haute – 1945
- Cubs – French Lick, IN – 1943-1945
- Indians – Lafayette, IN – 1943–1945
- Pirates – Muncie, IN – 1943–1945
Although the Cubs played in the World Series in 1945, none of these 6 teams won the World Series during those 3 years.
As a side note, two teams actually chose to hold spring training in Indiana in lieu of going to an area with a warm climate:
- Browns – French Lick, IN – 1902
- Cardinals – West Baden, IN – 1911 (10 miles from French Lick)
Currently there are 15 teams holding spring training in the State of Florida, constituting the Grapefruit league, and 15 teams holding spring training in the State of Arizona, constituting the Cactus League, (including 2 in Tucson). Strangely, during the last 20 years (19 World Series), 16 of the World Series winners held their spring training in Florida as part of the Grapefruit League; 2 winners held spring training in Tucson and only 1 winner held spring training in Phoenix (the Los Angeles Angels) of the Cactus League.
Based upon the above “stats” Florida has it hands down over Phoenix as the place to hold spring training and Phoenix appears to be only slightly better than French Lick, Indiana, as a place to hold spring training! It appears that even though Phoenix is a warm place it has put a chill on the ability of the teams in the Cactus league to win the World Series.
Mark – If you were born 90 years ago you could have enjoyed your spring vacations in Indiana!
–Written by Ken