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Spring Training

Palm Beach County’s climate has long attracted baseball teams for spring training. After

World War II, the Philadelphia Athletics made their home at West Palm Beach’s Wright Field, renamed in 1952 for Connie Mack, the Athletics’ (A’s) owner-manager from 1901 to 1950, when he retired at age 87. His tenure is the longest ever for a coach or manager in North American professional sports with only one team. He remained owner and president until 1954, when the Athletics moved to Kansas City, Missouri. The A’s moved their spring training to Bradenton, Florida, in 1962. Connie Mack Field is now the parking garage at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts; a plaque marks the former home plate.

A year after the A’s left West Palm Beach, the city entered a five-year spring training contract with the Milwaukee Braves. Louis R. Perini, Sr., who was then transforming swamp into the western expansion of the city, had bought the Boston Braves in 1947 with two other contractors. He and his brothers, Charles and Joseph, became full owners in 1951 for half a million dollars; they moved the club to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1953. Although the Perinis sold to a Chicago group in 1962 for $5.5 million, Lou bought back a 10% interest in the club less than a year later.

In 1963 there was nothing on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard except the $1 million Municipal Stadium, which was not quite finished when the Braves arrived. There were snakes and construction-site sand, and no lights or roof on the stadium. The Braves’ opening game was against the Kansas City Athletics, who had left West Palm Beach a year earlier.

The Braves became the Atlanta Braves in 1966; they were joined for spring training at Municipal Stadium by the Montreal Expos from 1968 to 1972. The stadium site is now occupied by a Home Depot store.

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