One of the most reliable signs the nation is emerging from the depths of winter is the start of baseball's spring training season, which kicked off Feb. 21 for the "Cactus League" (teams that train in Arizona) and Feb. 22 for the "Grapefruit League" (teams that train in Florida).
With 30 major-league teams converging on those two regions from 19 states and one Canadian province, one of the great challenges of the sport is moving everything from exercise equipment to balls and bats to sports drinks to the teams' spring training destinations on time. But for less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL), it's a can of corn. ODFL, which has been the official freight carrier for Major League Baseball since 2017, handled the moves this year for five teams: the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies.
Before the trucks hit the road, teams have special send-off events attended by fans, players, coaches, mascots, and former players to celebrate the unofficial start of baseball season. This year's festivities began on Jan. 25, with the White Sox's annual SoxFest fan convention and sendoff in Chicago, and ended on Feb. 8, with a celebration for the Phillies. At the Philadelphia event, Old Dominion loaded the team's gear onto two 33-foot trailers with help from the team's mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, who escorted the truck out of Citizens Bank Park for its trip to Florida. Each of the trailers was wrapped with a custom design, while fans were encouraged to post photos of their truck sightings on social media.