Have pitchers and catchers always reported to Spring Training early?
Have pitchers and catchers always reported early?
Some say Spring Training started when Cap Anson brought his Chicago White Stockings to Hot Springs, Ark., in 1886. Others hold that it truly began in 1888, when the Washington Nationals held a training camp in Jacksonville, Fla. Whatever the case, we know that the idea itself had firmly taken hold by the early 1900s. By 1905, every AL and NL team was headed south. Fielder Jones even took his Chicago squad to Mexico.
But here's our question: Did he take only pitchers and catchers with him? We weren't sure how long batteries had been reporting in advance of their teams, so we did a little investigating.
The first mention we found of pitchers and catchers attending Spring Training without the rest of their team was from a March 3, 1905 article. The New York Highlanders, who later became the Yankees, sent six pitchers and one catcher to Montgomery, Ala. Things were a bit different then. According to The New York Times:
A 1913 article puts New York Giants pitchers Ted Goulait and Christy Mathewson at Spring Training early, along with catcher Grover Hartley. Oh, and Jim Thorpe was also there. He came along, because who wouldn't want to spend extra time with Jim Thorpe?
In 1914, Charles Ebbets required the pitchers and catchers of his Brooklyn Base Ball Club to report early for "baths and road work," and by 1922, Phillies owner William Baker was ordering his pitchers and catchers to "assemble" in Leesburg, Fla.
But why, you might wonder, do pitchers and catchers need to report earlier than the rest of the team? This is a harder question to answer. New York Giants manager John McGraw apparently advised his players that it would "be of material benefit," but other explanations are thin on the ground, forcing us to assume that it's all because of those baths Ebbets talked about.