Lakeland is Tiger Town for a lot of reasons outside of the literal name. LMCU (Lake Michigan Credit Union) has a location in Lakeland. They are also the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, LMCU Park. There is no other town in Florida that has hosted a team as long as Lakeland. So the tradition of spring training and the Tigers goes hand in hand with the 76th annual Tigers BBQ.
In the past, the welcome back BBQ was a common sight in the Grapefruit League. With the Tigers being the last team in Polk County left, (The Cleveland Guardians played in Winter Haven until 2009), the BBQ was filled with Tigers personal, players, and anyone who purchase a ticket via visitcentralflorida.org/tigerbbq. The tradition started in 1946, when the Mayor of Lakeland hosted the Tigers in his backyard.
The spread was impressive. Corn on the cob, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, Italian sausages and shrimp. There was a nice turnout as every table was packed with people enjoying the food and good company.
Honestly, for any Detroit Tigers fan that hasn’t gone to this event, do yourself a favor and go.