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Phillies' ties to Clearwater go way back

Philadelphia Phillies

It seems as if Clearwater, Fla., has been the Phillies' Spring Training home forever. That's really not true. For many years, they trained elsewhere -- including Philadelphia from 1883-1901. Nine other states have hosted the Phils durng Spring Training.

The Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) were the first Major League team in Clearwater, training and playing their games at Clearwater Athletic Field in 1923. (The Phillies were in Leesburg, Fla., from 1922-24).

It seems as if Clearwater, Fla., has been the Phillies' Spring Training home forever. That's really not true. For many years, they trained elsewhere -- including Philadelphia from 1883-1901. Nine other states have hosted the Phils durng Spring Training.

The Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) were the first Major League team in Clearwater, training and playing their games at Clearwater Athletic Field in 1923. (The Phillies were in Leesburg, Fla., from 1922-24).

Brooklyn actually had two stints in Clearwater, 1923-32 and 1936-41. The Dodgers were followed by the Cleveland Indians in 1942-46. When Bill Veeck bought the Indians in June 1946, he decided to move Spring Training near his Tucson, Ariz., ranch. The St. Louis Browns and Phillies both approached Clearwater after the 1946 season. The Browns chose Miami, clearing the way for the Phils to settle in this small town of 15,000 residents.

"The Phillies bid adios to this city and its snow-covered streets this afternoon. Its major league training camp time and the local National Leaguers boarded a B&O train for the sunny southland. The destination is Clearwater, Florida, where the Phils will hold forth for the next two months getting in shape for the baseball season," wrote Ray Kelly in the Feb. 22, 1947, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

The Phillies have trained and played in three Clearwater ballparks: Athletic Field (1947-54), Jack Russell Stadium (1955-2003) and Spectrum Field -- formerly Bright House Field (since 2004).

Clearwater timeline

March 15, 1923
Brooklyn defeats the Boston Braves, 12-7, in the first Spring Training game in Clearwater.

Feb. 24, 1947
The Phillies hold their first Spring Training workout in Clearwater.

March 11, 1947
The Phillies lose, 13-1, to the Detroit Tigers in their first Clearwater game. Attendance is 1,766.

March 28, 1947
The Phillies' first win is an 8-7 victory over St. Louis on an 11th-inning walk-off home run by Johnny Wyrostek.

March 10, 1955
The Phillies defeat the Detroit Tigers, 4-2, in the first game played at Jack Russell Stadium. Robin Roberts is the Phils' starting pitcher.

March 14, 1967
The Phillies open a state-of-the-art four-field Minor League training complex called Carpenter Field on Old Coachman Road.

March 28, 2003
The Yankees win the last Spring Training game at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, 2-0. Pat Burrell gets the last hit.

March 4, 2004
The Phillies defeat the New York Yankees, 5-1, in first the game played at Bright House Network Field before 8,205 fans -- a Clearwater record. Marlon Byrd gets the first hit; Jimmy Rollins get the first home run.

March 19, 2016
Clearwater Athletic Field becomes an official Florida Heritage Site when an historical marker is dedicated at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street, where the ballpark once stood. It is the first such marker in Clearwater city limits.

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies.

Philadelphia Phillies