Lynn Henning: 'What I Love Most About Spring Training Camp Is . . .'
You may not sense springtime in the breeze just yet, but Lynn Henning does.
The Detroit News sportswriter this weekend begins an annual pilgrimage to Lakeland, Fla., where he reports on Tigers training . . . and on "sights, sounds and scenes are wonderful and familiar." After just a day down there, Henning warms up his lyrical muscles and swings for poetic fences as he rhapsodizes about traditions of Tigertown.
You hear birds chirping and squawking as they enjoy Lake Parker's ecosystem and the trees and light towers that offer handy perches. You hear the clacking of bats striking baseballs in the indoor batting cage. Across a broad green expanse, close to the four-field practice complex east of Joker Marchant Stadium, you detect more audio: the slap of pitches smacking catcher's mitts. . . .
Spring training is about a kind of spirituality. Nature's gift of green grass and sunshine is at its fresh best in spring. Toss in a society's ardor for baseball and everything melds in a dreamy celebration that gives the boot to winter and signals the start of good times.
Henning, who first reported on spring training in 1979 for the Lansing State Journal before joining The News later that year, still savors the boyish thrills he did then. No jaded journalist, he.
What I love most about spring camp is its simplicity and purity. Its relaxed ways. Its ability to let the weather and a culture's baseball passion wash over everything and everyone in an eternal tribute to the game and to its annual rebirth.
Feels slightly warmer already, doesn't it?
-- Alan Stamm