In Florida: Old Boys of Spring

At 9:30 on a sunny March morning, Chain O' Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Fla. is the Garden of Eden with a grandstand. Gulls circle and swoop in the smogless sky. Far down the rightfield line, beyond the clubhouse the Boston Red Sox have occupied during the past 15 years, an unseen bat cracks against an unseen ball, breaking the absolute silence. In the grandstand the early arrivals stare at the outfield grass as if, after a New England winter of grays and browns, they have just witnessed the invention of green.

Until 10...

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