Tigers BBQ is a ‘welcome back’ to the Boys of Summer

Spring showers may bring May flowers, but what else does Spring bring?

Why, baseball of course.People in line getting barbecue food at TigerTown during the Tigers BBQ event

A tradition that started more than 70 years ago, the Tiger BBQ returns in 2023, a sign that the Boys of Summer and the Great American Pastime, baseball, have returned.

While welcome back barbecues were once a staple of the Florida based Spring Training Grapefruit League, today, Polk County is the last one remaining, a fitting fact due to the area’s 89-year history with the Tigers calling Lakeland their home away from home.

The tradition of the Tiger BBQ started when the mayor of Lakeland threw a party in his backyard for the Detroit Tigers.

It was in 1946 when then mayor and businessman Jimmie Musso organized the first barbecue for the team in his backyard. So many folks attended that the next year the barbecue was moved to one of the World War II era hangers where Tiger Town is today. The event is the only one of its kind in the nation where current and former Major League Baseball players, minor league players, front office administration and the community break bread together. Over the years, numerous celebrities have attended as well, most notably Tom Selleck in 1991 while researching his role for the movie “Mr. Baseball.”

Today, Polk County is the only Spring Training location that welcomes its spring Major League Baseball visitors with a good old-fashioned barbecue – fitting for the Spring Training city with the longest standing relationship with a Major League Baseball team. The Tigers have held Spring Training in Lakeland for 89 years.

The 76th annual Tiger BBQ will feature everything you’d find in an old-fashioned barbecue, from pork, ribs and chicken to potato salad, cole slaw and corn on the cob.

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