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Pirates and Orioles in town

by Roger Pettingell

End of February means spring training

Catch the big leaguers, upcoming players and a few entertainment stars

Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota
Ed Smith Stadium - Since a $31 million overhaul in 2011 this ball park of the Baltimore Orioles is now considered to be one of the best facilities in Florida.

March means spring training baseball where the 15 teams of the Grapefruit League center around the Sarasota area. And if you want to see the stars up close in these smaller ballparks, this is your chance. You may even catch a star of another entertainment circuit practicing with the big-leaguers. Garth Brooks is participating in the Pittsburgh Pirate organization at LECOM Field in Bradenton. Tim Tebow turned down an offer to play quarterback in the newly created Alliance of American Football for an opportunity to enter spring training with the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie.

Back in the day Michael Jordan practiced with the Chicago White Sox for a month in Sarasota 25 years ago. Billy Crystal played in a New York Yankees game against the Pirates on his 60th birthday. Tom Selleck struck out as a pinch hitter for the Detroit Tigers in a 6-4 loss to Cincinnati. Since then the Reds have moved to the Cactus League and hold their spring training games in Goodyear, Arizona. Musician Bruce Hornsby was a pinch runner for the Angels in 1997. Kevin Costner played shortstop, went 0 for 3 at the plate and pitched to manager Lou Piniella in the final inning of an exhibition game with the Seattle Mariners. Baseball reporter Tom Verducci spent five days with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005 for a Sports Illustrated cover story.

This is where the stars of the future play alongside the established baseball players beginning February 23. The whole month of March you can drive within a couple hours to follow your favorite team in Florida. And if you are an Atlanta Braves fan accustomed to driving to Lake Buena Vista, your team will be training in the new Cool Today Park in North Port. Ticketmaster has incorrectly listed the sports complex in Venice for its stadium opening on the last day of training March 24 with a pre-season game featuring the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays actually have their spring training in Port Charlotte, away from their home stadium of Tropicana Field.

In Sarasota the Baltimore Orioles hold their spring training at Ed Smith Stadium with 17 home games on the schedule, starting with the first game on Saturday as they host the Minnesota Twins. The Orioles are looking to rebuild this year following their 47-115 record in 2018, 61 games out of first place and the worst record for the franchise. All-star shortstop Manny Machado was traded to the Dodgers mid-season so the roster is open for new talent. The pitchers and catchers reported last week, returning with a disastrous starting rotation. No starting pitcher had a winning record. Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb and David Hess are in the depth chart for the starting rotation this year. Richard Bleier had the best ERA from the bullpen at 1.93, with 3 wins and 0 losses.

They begin the full roster training today to begin their rebuilding year. Baltimore great Frank Robinson died in February, possibly sparking the team posthumously. His Baltimore Oriole jersey number 20 was retired and will be worn as a patch on the team’s uniforms this year. Filling the shoes of Machado is a concern for rookie manager Brandon Hyde. They recently signed veteran shortstop Alcides Escobar, a Gold Glove winner and past All-Star who hit .231 with four home runs in 2018. Outfielder Adam Jones played for the Orioles for the last 10 seasons, is a free agent possibly ready to rejoin his team. Slugger first baseman Chris Davis has had two slumping seasons but hopes this season will be a rebounding one for him. Watch the team develop with a young squad.

LECOM Park in Bradenton
Pirates spring training at LECOM Park in Bradenton

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished with a more respectable record over .500 at 82-79, but finished 13 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central division. They open in Clearwater on Saturday to play the Philadelphia Phillies and have their home opener in Bradenton on Sunday versus the Miami Marlins at 1:05 PM. The stadium was renamed LECOM Park in 2017 and is the oldest stadium used for spring training. Constructed in 1914, its renovations this decade revitalized the park into a modern marvel. Many have known the stadium as McKechnie Field since the 1960s, named in honor of former Pirates manager Bill McKechnie. LECOM Park received its naming rights through an agreement with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, its main campus in Erie, Pennsylvania and branch campus in eastern Bradenton.

Starting pitchers Jameson Taillon returns from his 14-10 record with former Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer, who finished with a 6 and 8 win-loss record last year. Right-hand pitcher Trevor Williams also finished 2018 with a successful season with a 14-10 record and ERA of 3.11. Manager Clint Hurdle, now in his eighth Pirate season, has a strong bullpen with most of his relievers heralding a winning record in 2018 with low ERAs, possibly led by newcomer Keone Kela. A 2018 All-star, Felipe Vázquez, returns to the bullpen for the Pirates. He had 17 saved games last year and finished with a 4 and 2 record.

The Pirates have 15 home games in LECOM Park, enough to see the team that will contend for the divisional title. Josh Bell anchors the infield at first base and with his bat, finishing with 26 home runs in his second year in the majors. Adam Frazier at second base will likely be leadoff hitter for the Pirates this season as he enters his fourth season. The Pirates could not come to terms with their starter at second, Josh Harrison opening the door for Frazier. Right-fielder Gregory Polanco had 23 home runs in 2018 before he was injured in September. The Pirates have brought in Lonnie Chisenhall from the Indians to hold the position until Polanco returns from surgery, sometime before mid-season.

When the major leaguers pack their bags to start the regular season up north, the Bradenton Marauders take the field at LECOM. The Pirates' farm team, a Class A-Advanced affiliate in the Florida State League plays a 71-game schedule beginning at home April 6 in their third game of the season. Ed Smith Stadium has been the site for teams in the Gulf Coast League, although a schedule has not been released for 2019. Watch rising stars and have a nice day at the ball park April through August. And if you want to be close to your Pirates or Orioles in March, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of a house you have in mind or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Classic winter and spring events

by Roger Pettingell

Upcoming events for an active lifestyle

Ballet, orchestra, opera, plays, black-tie benefits and sports are highlighted

Upcoming events Sarasota
Art Festivals - There are many shows featuring artists from around the nation with their works in Sarasota, Lido Key, Venice, Bradenton and St. Armands Circle

The 36th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival and the annual Thunder by the Bay ended this weekend, but this is peak season and there are many more to fill its place. There are mini-festivals such as the two events this past weekend. There are operas, ballet, orchestra Masterworks series, plays, musicals and sports that create a national buzz, if not international attraction to Sarasota and Manatee counties. And most are within the next couple of months while the weather is attractive for those who have the ability to spend a few months enjoying the sunshine.

Currently running is OVATION, a celebration of the modern circus. Now in its second week, world class performers from around the globe have traveled to Sarasota to display their acrobatic artistry. Put on by our own Circus Sarasota, Ringmaster Joseph Bauer, Jr. will guide you through the acrobatics, juggling, high wire acts and of course a little clowning around performances. There are animal acts too. The Anastasini Soccer Dogs flip, jump and roll and the Liberty Horses combine form with the grace of their trainer Sylvia Zerbini. You have until Sunday to catch these performances under the Ulla Searing Big Top in Nathan Benderson Park.

The Sarasota Film Festival has been acclaimed as one of the top film festivals in the world. This year the SFF will celebrate its 20th year for attracting celebrities and high quality films. Although the films will be announced in the next few weeks, you can set your dates of April 13 through 22 for parties and film premieres. Last year the festival kicked off with a luncheon with film star Rory Kennedy, a block party around the Opera House, and an Opening Night Film with a film by Rory. There were film screenings with premieres and a closing night block party, film and awards.

Black-tie events
Charities - Many black-tie charity events such as the Blue Ties and Butterflies benefit co-chaired by my wife Alisa are listed on the upcoming schedule.

Likewise, the Sarasota Music Festival is three weeks of professional guest artists in concert and student showcases in June for those who enjoy classical music at its finest. Just 60 students are accepted from applications sent in worldwide to join the masters as students and performers. Guest lectures by renown artists and local chamber music celebrities together form a festival of education and listening delight. The concerts are highlighted with theme-driven concerts on Thursdays with Artist Showcases, Friday Festivals and Saturday Symphonies. The students generally perform on Sundays are asked to perform alongside the accomplished artists. Most of the events take place in our Holley Hall at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center and the Sarasota Opera House. Although the exact dates have not been set, I expect the festival to run from June 3 through June 24.

Andy Warhol is celebrated in exhibits and workshops through June 30 dedicated to the pop culture icon at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens near the southern edge of downtown Sarasota. The gardens have six of Warhol’s original 10,000 images of flowers on display. The Sarasota Opera last Wednesday kicked off its monthly series of Warhol Nights. Guest performances by some of Sarasota’s classics are lined up on Wednesdays. The famed Perlman Music Program on the Suncoast alumni, with its stringed foursome artists of violins, viola and cello will continue its Around Series at the gardens under the stars on March 14. An exciting evening of dance is set for April 11 with the Sarasota Ballet and compositions by the Valet Underground, songs that were written for Warhol. Life’s a Beach is a theme for the May 16 Florida Studio Theatre improvisational comedy performance. The Sarasota Music Festival takes a break with a special one-night concert at the gardens on June 13.

The Sarasota Orchestra and its Masterworks Series runs through May 12 with three performances in one week at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, the outdoor Pops Field of Dreams concerts. Violinist Midori Honors Bernstein is featured with conductor Michael Balke Thursday at the Neel Performing Arts Center in Bradenton and Friday through Sunday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. Sarasota Orchestra Music Director Anu Tali will conduct the next of two Masterworks series. Lift-Off, with soprano Pureum Jo follows a similar four-day schedule as above starting March 15 at Neel. Anu will conduct the three-day series starting April 6 featuring violinist Elina Vӓhӓlӓ in The Red Violin.

Asolo Repertory Theatre
Asolo Repertory Theatre - Considered for its beauty, the threatre on the Ringling grounds hosts many performances throughout the year.

Catch some long runs of plays and musicals at many of the fine theatres in Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton. Four local productions run through March 4. The drama Heisenberg is at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a play based on the Disney production of the same name and is currently running at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. The Morning After Grace at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota and the Toxic Avenger at the Venice Theatre are two plays also running through Sunday.

Northside Hollow, the dark humorous play at the Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota, is currently running through March 11. Native Gardens, the drama with a comedic twist is running through March 25 in the Gompertz Theatre of the Florida Studio Theatre. The play, Shakespeare in Love, based on the 1998 Oscar-winning film, completes its run on March 28 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Travel to the famous fictional land of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a play every Saturday through March 31 at the Florida Studio Theatre. You might be able to guess whose music is featured in the musical Blue Suede Shoes, now through April 1 at the Florida Studio Theatre. The well-received political farce, Rhinoceros, completes its run at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota on April 14.

Four long running performances open this week. The Rehearsal, a period piece based on French relationships is a play written in 1950 with tones that fit today’s schemes for desperate couples. It runs through March 11 in the Asolo Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Also running through March 11 is the play Bullets Over Broadway at The Players Centre for the Performing Arts in Sarasota. The play, Constellations, is a story about the collision of romance and science that runs through March 16 at the Florida Studio Theatre in downtown Sarasota. Now through March 18 catch Dream Girls at the Venice Theatre. It is a Tony Award winning musical that features Motown and Broadway hits with a story line that portrays a part of the music industry.

LECOM Park in Bradenton is home for the Pirates in spring training and its farm club in the summer.

Professional major league baseball players are in town for spring training with 16 Baltimore Orioles home games starting Friday at Ed Smith Stadium in downtown Sarasota. Catch your favorite players in the Grapefruit League from Tampa Bay, Minnesota, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York Yankees and Mets. The Tampa Bay Rays actually have their spring training in Port Charlotte and the Atlanta Braves are moving their spring complex in 2019 from Kissimmee to North Port. To the north in Bradenton, the Pittsburgh Pirates have 16 home games starting Saturday with the same Grapefruit League teams in their newly named LECOM Park, formerly McKechnie Field. The Marauders, a farm club of the Pirates, plays in the summer at LECOM Park

There are over 500 events in the upcoming schedule on our website. Concerts, upcoming long running plays and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall shows are listed there. The complete list of events for the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix from June 23 to July 4 will be listed there. Watch for news of the Ringling International Arts Festival in October and the Sarasota Chalk Festival and Sarasota MOD in November.

Check out the three new listings last week at the Beach Residences on Lido Key, Country Club Shores and Bay Harbour on Longboat Key. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing, or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1300 Benjamin Franklin Dr, #1201 $5,495,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1055 Bogey Lane $939,000 Video Photo Slideshow
448 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #A306 $549,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Sarasota sports

by Roger Pettingell

Baseball, and roller derby to water skiing

Upcoming events for the spectator sport enthusiast

McKechnie Filed in Bradenton
McKechnie Field - The Pittsburgh Pirates are wrapping up their Spring schedule. The Marauders will soon begin their schedule here.

With just three more home games remaining, Spring training for the Baltimore Orioles is winding down. One of the nice things about these games is that they are in smaller ballparks with the major leaguers participating. For the most part you are close to the action where you may not be when the regular season starts.

The team has been settled in Sarasota since 2009, a renovated Ed Smith Stadium in 2010 downtown and part of the 13-team Grapefruit League. This is your opportunity to see center fielder Adam Jones or starting pitcher Chris Tillman without leaving the area. It might also be a good bet that you can catch stars from your favorite major league team within an easy drive. Just to the north in Bradenton, the Pirates, are at the renovated McKechnie Field. There are still standing room only tickets left, but these games are typically sellouts.

And more good news recently was announced this month, the Atlanta Braves are looking at Sarasota to move their training from Lake Buena Vista. Their current contract is up in 2017. The plans are for a 7,500-seat stadium in south Sarasota on US 41. Other cities are in the running.

There are other professional sporting events coming up in Sarasota. Starting April 9 the USTA Pro Circuit will be in town for an eight day tennis tournament to be played at the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center. Some of the top ranked players have accepted, including four from Argentina, to participate in the White Sands/Joey Gratton Sarasota Open.

Even the Bradentuckey Bombers of the women’s flat track roller derby league are considered professional athletes. Their next event is this Saturday at their facility, Astro Stake and Fun Center, at 3611 Third St, West in Bradenton.

The NCAA has its largest collegiate sand volleyball competition April 8-10, with 35 colleges participating in the Fiesta on Siesta Key. Now in its seventh year, D2, D3 and NAIA schools have been added to the tournament field this year. On that Saturday, USA Volleyball HP National team tryouts will be held on the beaches of Siesta Key.

A polo club event is a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon. The last match of the season will be held this Sunday at the grounds in Lakewood Ranch. Nine polo fields are maintained, the Sarasota Polo Club is one of the largest clubs in the country.

Ski-A-Rees water ski acrobats
The Ski-A-Rees give free shows on Sundays with their last show of the season May 1.

The Ski-A-Rees has been providing water ski shows since 1957. These free events with parking available at the Mote Marine Aquarium on City Island are an excellent display of local acrobatic talent. The last show of the season is May 1 but the 2016 Southern Regional Show Ski Tournament at the Ski-A-Rees stadium will begin June 16 and run through that Sunday. The tournament was last held here in 2011.

Over the Fourth of July weekend the 32nd Sarasota Power Boat Grand Prix race will be held with prime viewing on Lido Key beaches. The festival begins a week earlier with the Festival Golf Classic at Laurel Oak Country Club.

Nathan Benderson Park by the new Mall at University Town Center will be the site to some world class athletes in rowing and sculling, the first of which will be this Wednesday, Canoe Kayak Canada Assessment Regatta. In April the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association Sculling Championships and the 2016 U.S Olympic Team Trials will be held there. Looking to the future, the World Rowing Championship will be held in September of 2017 and will co-host with the University of Central Florida, National Collegiate Athletic Association's Rowing Championships in 2018.

Professional sports in Tampa include the Rays baseball team and the Buccaneers in the NFL. The State College of Florida participates in the Suncoast Conference of the Florida State College Activities Association. The Manatees have teams in tennis, baseball, softball and volleyball.

My new listing is a Beachplace penthouse on Longboat Key with wonderful views of the Gulf. This 2BR/2BA residence has an extended terrace that is only featured on top-floor properties in this community. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1055 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #603 $899,000   Photo Slideshow


Sarasota, home of the Spring Orioles

by Roger Pettingell

Summer stars begin their training here

Renovations to stadium enhance the atmosphere

Orioles Spring Training at Ed Smith Stadium, Tampa Bay Rays, March 14, 2015
Who is the home team? - The Tampa Bay Rays were listed as the visiting team Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium, the Spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles in the Florida Grapefruit League.

Depending on who you talk to, major league baseball Spring training either started in 1870 in New Orleans or in 1888 in Jacksonville. Here in Sarasota the New York Giants started the late Winter phenomenon in 1924 with the help of John Ringling. On opening day that year, the Giants made local history at Payne Park, named after Calvin and Martha Payne who sold land for the park at a discounted rate.

This year on March 4 the Orioles opened their season with the veterans sharpening their skills and the rookies trying to impress at Ed Smith Stadium. The park is conveniently located in downtown Sarasota, named after a civic leader and supporter of youth sports. My family attended the game on Saturday when the Tampa Rays visited. Or were the Rays the home team, it was hard to tell but 8,400 were in attendance at the park which is listed with 7,500 seats.

The Orioles came to town as the home team for Spring training the first time in 2009 as part of the Grapefruit League. Within 250 miles of each other you can catch half of the major league teams from the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista, to the Blue Jays in Dunedin, the Red Sox and Twins in Fort Myers, to the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter. The Phillies, Yankees, Tigers, Mets, Nationals and Astros compete here in Florida for four weeks within that radius. The Rays and Marlins don’t condition in their home town, they are in Port Charlotte and Jupiter respectively. The Pirates, up the road in Bradenton, are at the renovated McKechnie Field.

If you believe the beginning as 1888, Spring training didn’t pan out that year for the three weeks the Washington Nationals spent in Jacksonville. They went on to finish 37 ½ games out of first place. It wasn’t until the turn of the century when Connie Mack brought the Philadelphia Athletics to Florida for another Spring training attempt. They had just won the American League but finished 14 ½ games out of first place that year. Both Spring sessions began a disappointing season. Another 11 years passed before the Chicago Cubs returned to Florida, this time in Tampa. They were quickly followed by the St. Louis Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Philadelphia Athletics returned to Jacksonville with manager Connie Mack.

Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees came to St. Petersburg for Spring training in the 1920s. There were 16 teams in the majors at the time and 10 spent their Springs in Florida during that decade when Payne Park and McKechnie Field were built. That might have been the historical years that Spring training truly was a Florida rite. Every year since tourists, sports writers, players and managers travel to Florida to shake off the Winter chills and prepare for the baseball season at their respective parks.

The other half of the major league teams start their season in the Cactus League. Baseball was an East coast and Midwest phenomenon until 1958 when the Dodgers began their storied history in Los Angeles. Before then, California cities hosted some of the nation’s Spring training camps around the 1900 turn of the century. Camps in Arizona didn’t open up for the teams East of the Mississippi until 1929, about the time that Florida was firmly establishing itself as the capital of Winter baseball. It was another 20 years, and after World War II, before the Cactus League took hold.

Now 18 teams participate, with Glendale, Arizona at the center of the circle and the Winter home of the Dodgers. The Angels, Athletics, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Padres, Rangers, Reds, Rockies, Royals and White Sox call Arizona their home for the month of March.

So the competition is fierce between the two states. At stake are tourism dollars, nearly 3.5 million fans visited Spring training parks in 2010. That year Ed Smith Stadium was renovated for $31.2 million to present a more modern atmosphere, and McKechnie followed with renovations soon after that.

Ed Smith Stadium and the Orioles are two more reasons this area is an excellent place to live, especially for sports fans. Strong traditions in other sports from football to polo attract many more visitors and property buyers.

Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy. Check out this new penthouse listing at Beachplace.

1135 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #603 $849,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.