2023 Governor’s Baseball Dinner Features Dunedin’s Spring Training History
Many aspects of the City of Dunedin and the Toronto Blue Jays history together were on display February 16, at the 2023 Governor’s Baseball Dinner, held at TD Ballpark.
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There was the 47-year relationship between Dunedin and the Blue Jays dating back to the team’s inception in 1977. Toronto is the only MLB team to have held Spring Training in the same community for the duration of the team’s history.
TD Ballpark was the home field of Governor Ron DeSantis when he played for Dunedin High School.
“Every home game and pretty much every practice was here on this field,” said Governor DeSantis.
He also recalled as a youth baseball player knowing baseball season was near, “when you started seeing all of the Ontario license plates on cars around town,”
Blue Jays back-to-back World Series-winning manager, Cito Gaston, was recognized as the 2023 Legend of the Game for his contributions to the 1992 and 1993 World Series winning teams. Gaston now lives in Pinellas County and thanked the Blue Jays organization for “letting me be myself,” while he was the manager for two stints over 10 years.
Several other Legends of the Game were on hand to celebrate the beginning of the 2023 Florida Spring Training season. Former MLB standouts who spent quite a few years in Florida Grapefruit League, and now call Florida home, were in attendance. Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (Red Sox, Yankees, Rays), pitcher Luis Tiant (Indians, Red Sox), Charles Johnson (Marlins), Rick Ankiel (Cardinals), Mark Whiten (Indians, Cardinals Phillies, Yankees), Dennis Martinez, (Expos, Indians) and even the emcee of the night, Buck Martinez (Royals, Blue Jays)
The 2022 World Series Champions, the Houston Astros, were honored with the Grapefruit League Cup. The award was accepted by Dana Brown, a former Blue Jays executive, who begins his first year as the Houston General Manager in 2023.
Also honored was the FHSAA Class 5A State Baseball Champions, the Tampa Jesuit High School Tigers.
Attending his seventh Governor’s Baseball Dinner since he took office in 2015, MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, once again reminded the approximately 300 in attendance, “I always look forward to this event because it’s the beginning of something great, another baseball season.”
The 2023 Florida Spring Training season features 33 days of games played in 13 Florida locations beginning Saturday, February 25 and continuing through Tuesday, March 28. Visit www.floridagrapefruitleague.com to find out more about the 15 Florida Grapefruit League teams, their locations, schedules and ticket information.
The Governor’s Baseball Dinner has a long history of being a precursor of the annual Major League Baseball Spring Training season in Florida, dating back to 1946. The Dinner was an annual event until the 1990s and was resumed in 2008.
Since 2008, the annual Dinner has been held in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Lakeland and Sarasota County, all long-time Florida Spring Training sites.