St. Pete's Baseball History - Al Lang Stadium
Since 1914, when the St. Louis Browns baseball team began playing in St. 44p[- in the spring, more Major League spring training games have been played in St. Petersburg than any other city. Over the years, the city has been the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Braves, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, New York Mets,
Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.
While Progress Energy Park has been empty since the Rays moved their spring training out of St. Pete in 2008, the city still celebrates its history.
Hey Hey Tampa Bay, Hey Hey Go Rays!
If you find yourself in the Tampa-St Pete-Clearwater area during baseball season, you really need to get over to "the Trop" for some American League baseball fun. The Rays play their games in St. Petersburg, even though the team name is "The Tampa Bay Rays", at an indoor domed park called Tropicana Field. It's nickname is "the Trop", as you may have noticed up above. The Rays have pretty good fan support, but the games are rarely complete sellouts, so you can safely go over without tickets and expect to get in. The exception would be when the hated and renowned New York Yankees are in town. Another nice thing about Rays baseball is that there is a LOT of parking nearby to the Trop. Depending on how close you get, the rate can start at $5 and go AS high as $20 to park. My advice is to find a $10 lot - that's usually close enough in to be convenient, and yet far enough from the park to make leaving less of a hassle.
If you are looking TO do a baseball weekend, you can stay basically anywhere in the Tampa-St Pete-Clearwater area, due to ease of parking around the Trop. But if you want to WALK to the games - meaning you can really, really enjoy all of the liquid refreshment options in and around the Trop - check out my Hotel Indigo tip here on the St. Petersburg page.
To buy tickets, go to www.raysbaseball.com.
If you like to have some suds with your baseball, there are all sorts of choices at the Trop. They have more brands than most bars. Sure, they're way overpriced, but.... the best deal is to spend $11 for one of those big chilled 24 ounce canned Coronas... that way, you're getting two "regular beers". And if you are a more serious alcoholic (just kidding folks - have fun, just don't drive), there are lots of other options. ONLY in a place like Tampa do the guys walking in the stadium yell "marrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgaritas, marrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgaritas". Also, you can go to the Captain Morgan club, where they make some killer rum drinks.
Oh, one more thing.... during the summer, there is a "summer concert series". About every three weeks or so, they follow up Saturday night games with a free (to baseball game ticket holders) concert. On our recent visit to the Trop, we enjoyed one of my favorite acts, the Barenaked Ladies. There are a wide variety of choices throughout the summer. Recent visits have included The Beach Boys, the Go-Gos, Daughtry, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Hall and Oates, Nelly, Smash Mouth, Dierks Bentley, Los Lobos, John Fogerty, ZZ Top and Vanilla Ice (really... egad). Among the upcoming shows will be American Idol favorite Adam Lambert, The Village People (I wonder if they'll play YMCA - ha ha), Train and Bret Michaels (assuming he recovers from whatever I keep hearing has happened to him). The concerts are not quite as long as what you'd go to see for a "real concert", maybe a little over an hour and 15 minutes. But the sound isn't bad and the venue is relaxing. Enjoy.
Oh, and if you get caught in one of south Florida's summer rainstorms after the game, duck into nearby Ferg's Sports Bar. They usually have a good deal on domestic bottled beer and its ice cold.
Equipment: For EVERYTHING you'd need to know regarding the Rays, check out this site:
Fishing with Capt Harry at Hook 'em Harry
On a recent weekday we went fishing with Capt Harry Conner who runs a company called Hook 'em Harry. Capt Harry is a fourth generation Florida fisherman who obviously loves what he does... who wouldn't want to spend their days on the water? He'll fish in the bay, gulf, or Intracoastal Waterway for just about anything you want to catch like tarpon, tuna, grouper, mackerel, redfish, trout, and sharks.
We did a 3/4-day in-the-Bay fishing trip with Capt Harry out of O'Neill's Marina in St. Pete. We met at around 7am, loaded up his 26-foot Calcutta boat with our food and drinks (he provided everything else), and were on the water to see the sun rise. Our first stop was near the pier at Fort DeSoto where Capt Harry threw the net to get small bait fish. Then we spent about 30 minutes over by the Egmont Key light hoping to snag a tarpon that pass through the area. Finally we spent the next 3 or 4 hours fishing closer to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and up the intracoastal as far as Pass a Grille. We caught about 10 fish of legal size and numerous others that were a bit too small to keep. When we got back to the docks, Capt Harry filleted the fish, packed them in ice, and we were on our way.
O'Neill's Marina - St. Petersburg
By land, O'Neill's is located at the southern tip of St. Petersburg, where I-275 crosses the Tampa Bay over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. By water, O'Neill's has a prime location at the mouth of the Bay, providing easy access to the Tampa Bay itself, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Gulf of Mexico between Fort DeSoto and Egmont Key.
The small marina offers a bait and tackle store, fuel, a boat ramp, dry and wet boat storage, and powered lifts. They also have a sales and consignment location in Largo, about 10 or 15 miles north of their St. Pete location.
O'Neill's is also home to a few of the area's charter fishing boats such as Hook 'em Harry.
Florida is sometimes called the fishing capital of the world, due to the year-round seasonal weather and its great fishing habitat in 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers and 2,276 miles of shoreline. Florida is said to have twice as many fishermen as golfers in a state known for its golfing. In fact, Florida ranks first among the 50 states in the total number of fishermen with 2.77 million people engaged in the sport.
Tampa Bay is one of the finest places to fish in Florida. Here you have freshwater fishing in local rivers, shoreline fishing from numerous bridges and piers, and saltwater fishing in the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
tropicana field also known as the suncoast dome is located just west of downtown st. pete. tropicana field is home to the tampa bay rays MLB team. a fun thing to do in the summer and fall when the rays are in town. check the attached web site for dates and ticket information.
- Historical Travel
Polynesian Putter Miniature Golf
Maybe minature golf isn't considered a sport by some people, but it is, people. You heard it from me. There are a few minature golf places on Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete's Beach, but the one that we like is Polynesian Putter because it is "The Home of the Tiki". The course features 18 challenging holes of varying difficulty, the piece de la resistance being the hole featuring the giant, 25 foot Tiki with glowing, blue eyes. On the night we played I was smiled upon by the gods because I got a hole-in-one on the Tiki hole. Can you believe it? Polynesian Putter costs $4 per person for 18 holes and you get a free mini pencil.
- Family Travel
The (Old) Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Okay, so the same year that I was born (1980), a freighter lost control in a storm and did in this bridge. Always looking for ways to make a total and complete tragedy into a family attraction, Floridians decided to turn the sections of the bridge that were still standing into a fishing pier. Now, what's left of the bridge is the longest fishing pier in the world. Visitors pay by the carload to get in. It's part of the parks system, so there's supposed to be no alcohol on the pier, but everyone sneaks it in. It's worst than a junior-high dance.
The fishing is pretty decent here during the week, but it's too crowded on the weekends. The best time to go it either really late at night or freakishly early in the morning. It's open all the time except for in severe weather.
Equipment: You can buy or rent equipment there. The bait is pretty cheap, but the equipment can cost you.
Cheap Tickets, Expensive Beer- Devil Rays
We used to joke about the Devil Rays when Iived down in Florida....I think one was "if you buy 2 box seats you get to play right field for an inning"... these guys were BAD, and they're not much better now... but the cool thing is they are cheap, cheap tickets, and the visiting team is usually good, and its a dome, so, too wet to have fun outdoors, come to a Devil Rays game! (The beer and hot dogs are normal price though)
Equipment: Bring a glove and a Sharpie for the away team to sign autographs.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
From small craft fishing to deep-sea fishing to fishing from The Pier, these and other activities are readily available and awaiting you in St. Petersburg! Enjoy your stay!%c
Equipment: Just bring yourself! If you have your own gear, you can most certainly put it to the best use here. If you don't have room for fishing gear, rentals are readily available.
- Water Sports
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
If you are a fan of baseball (me, hardly) go see the Devil Rays play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
The 45,000 seat dome stadium is rather distinctive for its slanting rooftop.
Tampa Bay has always been popular for spring training in baseball, but the area didn't even get its own team until 1998. Unfortunately, they didn't really get a good one.
Just think about it, water is surrounding you everywhere. Of course you have to try some type of water sport here in St. Pete's. You're surrounded by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, diving, sailing, fishing...
While driving along one of the many causeways connecting the coastal beaches to the mainland, I encountered these young boys learning how to windsurf. I've always wanted to learn, so I ought to sign up for lessons myself!
Equipment: a swimsuit
Deep Sea Fishing
The Gulf of Mexico is an excellent place to fish for grouper and marlin. Take a chartered deep sea fishing boat out into the Gulf for a fresh catch. They will even filet the fish you catch if you don't want to clean them yourself.
Excursions vary in time and location. The website provided below lists a variety of charters in the area.
This is not an activity for the weak-stomached. The waves out at sea are very strong, and the boat rocks incessantly. Be prepared to feel sea sick. Also, be able to handle raw squid.
Equipment: sunscreen, hat, towel
if you don't have your own gear, the charters provide fishing rods, tackle, and bait.
- Sailing and Boating
For biking, jogging, walking your dog, etc. hit the Pinellas Trail. This path extends from St. Petersburg all the way north to Tarpon Springs, approx 34 miles. It should stretch longer when the project is fully completed.
"An average of 90,000 persons use the Trail each month. The Trail is a unique greenway corridor linking some of Pinellas County?s most picturesque parks, scenic coastal areas and residential neighborhoods. While traveling along the Trail, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy deep glades of ancient live oaks trailing Spanish moss, quiet waterways and tidal streams with all varieties of land and water birds. The Trail is a priceless haven in a busy, highly urbanized environment, where Trail-goers safely breeze along. The construction of eight overpasses allow Trail-goers to travel above traffic at busy intersections." (from website)
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
Take me out to the BALL GAME
TROPACANNA FIELD down town St. Pete is the home of the FLORIDA DEVEL RAYAS and a day at the ball park with the family is a day full of memories. The HOT DOGS are the best.
Equipment: BALL CAPS AND T-SHIRTS AND SANDLES.
Be sure to try the HOT DOGS, they are great.
- Family Travel
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