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In 1943, major league teams were required to stick close to home for spring training.

According to an SABR history of the Phillies that year, the Phillies looked at a number of towns including Wildwood, Lancaster, and Swarthmore before settling on Hershey.

Training began March 15 with 20 men on the roster and less than 12 with contracts, as the ongoing war combined with the team’s poor record had made retention a problem in the short term

On Thursday April 8, the Phillies played their second exhibition match of spring training against a team from Indiantown Gap. The game was held on the Lebanon high school field.

“Performing against an overmatched Indiantown Gap team that plainly showed the lack of practice,” the Phillies attracted a crowd of thousands to the Lebanon high school field, including a great number of school children. The Daily News article goes on to say that the spectators actually interfered with the game by crowding the sideline and nearly obscuring the right fielder from view. One player even tripped on a few children.

“What the crowd came to see, however, was the Phillies, and it is possible that the National Leagues played to more fans here yesterday than they played to in a number of games combined in their home park last summer.”

This was the only year spring training was held in Hershey. It would be held in Wilmington in 1944 and 1945 after the team was purchased by the Carpenter family of that city.

Read more about the 1943 spring training at Hershey in this Penn Live article by a Phillies executive.


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