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As the home of Florida Southern College, Lakeland has a rich history in collegiate sports. However, the city’s ties to professional baseball are just as significant thanks to its relationship with the Detroit Tigers.

Florida Southern is arguably best known for its baseball program, which has produced numerous Major League Baseball (MLB) players throughout the years. Notable former Moccasins include Wade Davis, who won the World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 2015 and was also an All-Star that season, and J.P. Howell, who pitched for several teams over a decade-long MLB career.

But the connection between Lakeland and the MLB extends beyond Florida Southern. The Detroit Tigers have held their spring training in Lakeland since 1934, making it the longest-standing relationship between a major league team and a single host city. Games are played at Joker Marchant Stadium, which has undergone multiple renovations over the years to maintain its status as a top-notch facility.

In addition to spring training games, the Tigers also operate a minor league affiliate in Lakeland. The Lakeland Flying Tigers play in the Class A-Advanced Florida State League and have helped develop future MLB stars such as Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson.

The presence of the Tigers in Lakeland has not only brought baseball fans to the city but has also had a positive impact on the economy. According to a study by the C.V. Kunz Jr. Co., the Tigers generate an estimated $45 million annually for the local economy.

Furthermore, the partnership between the Tigers and Lakeland goes beyond just money. The team is involved in community outreach programs throughout the year, including hosting youth baseball camps, providing scholarships, and participating in charitable events.

Overall, the significance of baseball in Lakeland cannot be overstated. From the success of Florida Southern’s baseball program to the longevity of the Tigers’ spring training in the city, baseball has become a beloved and integral part of Lakeland’s history and culture.

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