Why Is It Called "Florida's Grapefruit League"?
As Canadian ballplayers head south for spring break, to practice and play Florida's top competition, I can't help but remember the lifelong memories and learning experiences that these trips had on me. In reality most of us will never get the chance to make the big leagues, but we can get a taste of what it's like through spring training. The Florida air has a mystical smell this time of year, the grass is groomed to perfection and the fields are as flat as a Canadian Prairies. Players will work hard and enjoy some "GrapeFruit League" games.
The "Grapefruit League" as they call it, is the name for MLB's Spring Training League, but why grapefruit? Isn't Florida known for its oranges? Why not the "Orange League"? or the "Lemon League? Where did they come up with "Grapefruit"? The Detroit Tigers have been going to Lakeland Florida since 1934. it's the longest lasting tie between a ballclub and a spring training city, but the beginnings of Grapefruit League go back even further.
In 1915 there was an interesting incident in Daytona Beach that might give some insight to where the name originated. Ruth Law, an aviator was doing an exhibition flying. She took a player from the Dodgers in the plane with her and the idea was for him, to throw down a baseball to his manager, who was on the field. The Dodgers player was having second thoughts, thinking that a ball might hurt his manager, so instead he threw down a grapefruit. The manager was hit in the chest and the grapefruit exploded. The manager, for a few seconds actually thought that he was dying and screamed "I'm dying, I'm dying!". It brought laughter and cheers for the audience and the players because they knew he wasn't dying and that he was hit by a grapefruit.
Why do they call it the grapefruit league? Now you know.