The metaphoric message that spring has arrived, spring training will start, and the season is on its way. Pitchers and catchers invited to spring training workouts must report no earlier than 45 days prior to the start of the season.
“Come November, passionate baseball fans begin counting the days to that glorious February morning when pitchers and catchers report” (Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 14, 2006). “The first true sign of spring always has been the day pitchers and catchers report for spring training” (Matt Villano, Newsweek, March 21, 2005). The practice of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training a few days earlier than their teammates began in 1903 by Connie Mack, whose object “of the early visit to the south is to try out the pitchers and get them in good condition for the preliminary games” (Fort Wayne News, Feb. 25, 1903; Peter Morris). Pitchers needed to be in shape to throw batting practice and pitch spring training games, hence their head start and hence the need for catchers. Joe S. Jackson (The Washington Post, Jan. 21, 1911; Peter Morris) wrote that the practice became “a general custom” by 1911, noting that Frank Chance planned to take his battery members “South two weeks in advance of the team itself, so that he can start them as early as possible.” 1st use. 1927. “The Phils did announce their spring training plans—pitchers and catchers will report at the Bradenton camp in Florida, a week earlier than the infielders and outfielders, which will be in late February” (The Sporting News, Jan. 13; Peter Morris).