Baseball season is upon us, but you don't need to go to a Major League game to enjoy excitement and fun. Our real estate agents know that a hard-fought Minor League game can be a joy to behold. As you explore Bradenton homes for sale or go across the way to Sarasota homes for sale, you'll have the best Minor League Baseball action right in your own backyard.
Bradenton is home to the Bradenton Marauders, the Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They play from historic LECOM Park, originally known as McKechnie Field, which has witnessed some of the greatest baseball games ever played in the Southeast.
A wonderful thing about Minor League Baseball is that you can enjoy it both before and after wrapping up the Major League season. There's always a welcoming community vibe, especially when LECOM Park is operated by the volunteer Bradenton Boosters during spring training.
Let's take a closer look and learn all about the team and venue.
About the Bradenton Marauders
Part of the Florida State League, the Bradenton Marauders are the Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Like the field in which they now play, the Marauders have a longer history than one might think: They're directly descended from the Tampa Tarpons, which started in 1957.
In April of 2010, the Marauders played their first game in front of nearly 2,400 spectators at what was then called McKechnie Field, named after Bradenton resident and Hall of Fame inductee Bill McKechnie. In a promising start for the team, they defeated the Fort Myers Miracle with a score of 18-3.
In their first season, the Marauders led the league in runs, batting average, and on-base percentage.
The 2011 season is when the Marauders really established the vibrant local fanbase that they still have to this day. They attracted more than 56,000 fans after 40 home games, a complete turnaround, and a record-breaking performance in the world of Minor League Baseball.
They made an even bigger mark starting in 2015, their first-ever championship season, where they capped off one of the most memorable streaks of the decade to defeat the Tampa Yankees by three games to one. It was their first Florida State League title and truly put them on the map.
A Truly Historic Bradenton Landmark
LECOM Park was renamed in 2017 but is perhaps best known as McKechnie Field, where it has been closely associated with the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1925. Opening in 1923 as City Field, it has been called "Florida's Fenway Park." It's the oldest stadium in the U.S. and is still used for spring training.
It also stands shoulder to shoulder with world-famous Wrigley Field and Fenway Park as the third-oldest stadium still used by a Major League Team. Its layout, nostalgic appearance, and standard amenities have made it a stomping ground for the most enthusiastic baseball purists.
One of the most unique aspects of this family-friendly park is the role of the nonprofit Bradenton Boosters. The Boosters have worked hard for nearly a century to support and improve the venue – many of its upgrades and updates over time can be traced back to fundraising campaigns by these volunteers.
Throughout the spring training season, you'll find the Bradenton Boosters serving as ushers, security personnel, merchants, and press box attendants. It's one more way LECOM Park is a unique local institution.
Be sure to check out their home game schedule so you can experience this baseball diamond in person!
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