The City of Lakeland has a lengthy connection to baseball and spring training. The Louisville Colonels of the American Association were the first baseball team to hold spring training in Lakeland, arriving in 1914. The Cleveland Indians were the first major league team to train here, holding spring training at Adair Park (now Henley Field) from 1923 to 1927. The Detroit Tigers and Lakeland have the longest continuous relationship between any major league team and its spring training host city. The Tigers began training in Lakeland in 1934 and have returned every year since, with the exception of a three year period during World War II when war imposed travel restrictions made it impossible for the team to journey to Lakeland.
The records in this category are fragmented, but document to some extent the long relationship between Lakeland and professional baseball. The Cleveland Indians Collection, RG5563, contains drafts of an article by Hal Hubener documenting the Indians' spring training sojourn in Lakeland in the 1920's, as well as the final version of the article which appeared in Tampa Bay History. Also included are photographs which accompanied the article.
The Lakeland Tigers, now the Lakeland Flying Tigers, RG5562, are a minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and play in the Class A Florida State League. Included are game programs, scorecards, and team photos.
The Detroit Tigers Collection, RG5560, includes published articles, newsclips, photographs, and transcripts of oral history interviews of individuals connected to the Tigers. The interviews were conducted by Gordon Olson and Frank Schubert for a book they were planning to write on the history of spring training in Florida. Also included are programs from spring training games.