Governor’s Baseball Dinner rings in the start of the 2020 Florida Spring Training Season
NORTH PORT, Fla. – At the 2020 Governor’s Baseball Dinner at CoolToday Park in North Port, Governor Ron DeSantis joined baseball fans from across the state to highlight the impact of America’s pastime in Florida.
“This dinner is an important part of the baseball calendar as it signifies the start of another season in the Sunshine State,” remarked Governor DeSantis. “I was pleased to host this event again this year as well as pay tribute to Miami native Andre Dawson, a great ambassador for the game and for our state. I look forward to another successful season for the Grapefruit League players and fans.”
“Each season, Florida Spring Training brings an economic impact of nearly $687 million dollars and an annual increase of 7,152 jobs,” said Florida Sports Foundation President & CEO Angela Suggs. “Having the Grapefruit League in the Sunshine State, where 15 of Major League Baseball’s teams call home in 12 cities, truly allows the world to Come Play in Florida.”
Welcoming the crowd to CoolToday Park and the 2020 season were Michael Moran, Chair of the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners, Debbie McDowell, Mayor of the City of North Port, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Players and coaches from the Venice High School Indians, winners of the last two Class 7A FHSAA State Baseball Championships, were presented with the Governor’s Sports Award.
The 2019 World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals, were honored along with the American League Champions, the Houston Astros. It was the third consecutive year, a Florida-based Spring Training team has been honored as the previous season’s champion. Also receiving recognition were four 2019 League Division Winners, the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.
Closing out the evening’s festivities was a special tribute to Miami native, Andre Dawson. Upon his graduation from Southwest Miami Senior High School, Dawson starred for the Florida A&M Rattlers and had a 21-year career with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. He was named the 1977 Rookie of the Year, the 1987 National League MVP and was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Dawson was joined onstage by Florida A&M President Larry Robinson and Governor DeSantis, who called Dawson “the Major League’s best player to come out of Florida A&M and the State of Florida.”
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred also held his annual Florida Spring Training Media Day at CoolToday Park prior to the Dinner with Managers and General Managers from all 15 teams holding their annual Spring Training in the state.
“I always love this event because it means the beginning of another season is right around the corner,” Manfred said to begin his press conference with members of many of the top media outlets and sports publications in attendance.
The 2020 Florida Grapefruit League season begins Saturday, February 22, the first full day of games in the State of Florida, and concludes on Tuesday, March 24. Visit www.floridagrapefruitleague.com for schedules of all 15 teams in Florida and a daily schedule of games.