Players for the Cincinnati Reds jerseys walk off the field at the end of the team’s final spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys on Thursday. The Reds jerseys lost their last game in Sarasota, 6 5, and the team will train in Goodyear, Ariz., next season after training in Sarasota for 12 years. STAFF PHOTOS / E. SKYLAR LITHERLAND Mascot Mr. Cincinnati will move its spring training operation to Goodyear, Ariz., in 2010.
By the time Reds jerseys outfielder cheap Drew Anderson jersey took a called third strike to end Cincinnati’s 6 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys, most of the crowd had already left.
Sarasota mayor Lou Ann Palmer was on hand to address spectators prior to the game. But she was interupted by repeated booing.
“I’m glad so many of you are angry,” said Palmer, wearing a red shirt and red hoop earrings, “because I’m angry that the Reds jerseys are leaving, too.
“We feel exactly the same way.”
But it was evident that many in the crowd did not think the City of Sarasota did enough to make sure the team would not leave.
“I’m upset with the city fathers,” said Ron Steinbrenner, a Reds jerseys fan from Dayton, Ohio. “The whole thing wasn’t sold properly.”
Steinbrenner, cheap baseball jerseys who said he’s a distant cousin of New York Yankees jerseys owner George Steinbrenner, has been coming to Florida since the 1970s to watch the Reds jerseys in spring training.
He won’t be going to Arizona.
“I have no interest in going there,” he said. “We’ll come back to Sarasota. We’ve got a group that’s putting trips together to other cities in Florida to watch spring training.”
Steinbrenner rents a place to stay, dines in area restaurants and spends money for entertainment.
“It’s not just all baseball,” he said. “We go the Van Wezel (Performing Arts Hall) and do other things.”
Sarasota’s Tom Pluto has been a season ticket holder for spring training for the past 31 years. He starting attending games when the Chicago White Sox jerseys played at rickety Payne Park. He said he has attended nearly every Reds jerseys spring training game since they moved to Sarasota in 1998.
“It’s a shame they’re moving,” said Pluto. “I know a lot of people who are extremely upset.”
Sarasota’s loss will be Bradenton’s gain, according to Pluto. The Pirates jerseys train in Bradenton, and Pluto thinks many Sarasotans will drive to Manatee County for their baseball fix next year.
Pluto has seen a lot of baseball over the last three decades. One of his biggest thrills was watching his adopted son, Jesse Guitierez, play at Ed Smith Stadium with the Reds jerseys. Guitierez played in the Reds jerseys’ system for eight years.
Another highlight was a monster home run that Mo Vaughn powered out of the stadium while playing for the Boston Red Sox jerseys against Cincinnati.
“It landed on top of the clubhouse,” said Pluto, who spent seven years as a scout for the Cleveland Indians jerseys. “I’ve never seen a ball hit so far. It stunned the crowd.”
He said area youngsters will feel the brunt of the move.
“One of the biggest shames is that our kids won’t get the chance to come out and see the pros,” said Pluto.
The city has had discussions with the Boston Red Sox jerseys, Baltimore Orioles jerseys and Chicago Cubs jerseys. But there is no new tenant for Ed Smith Stadium on the horizon.
“I just feel real sad,” said Dave Meadows, an usher at the stadium for seven years. “The Reds jerseys are what brought me here.”
Meadows, who retired from General Motors in Dayton, Ohio, said he was an usher at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati for four years.
“I’ve never missed a playoff game or World Series game that the Reds jerseys played in,” he said. “Didn’t matter if I had to beg, borrow or steal a ticket, I was there.”
Next spring, Meadows has offered his services to the Tampa Bay Rays jerseys at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.