Imagine hopping in your car and heading down the shore to watch the New York Yankees at spring training.

That was the reality for baseball fans in 1943, with the Yankees setting up shop in Asbury Park, N.J.


But as you can tell by the photos at the top of this story, the Yankees stars didn't make the trip. World War II was to blame for that. Many of the team's best players, including Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto, missed the season while serving in the military.

That left manager Joe McCarthy with players like right-hander Bill Zuber, left-hander Marius Russo, left-hander Thomas Byrne, outfielder John Lindell, first baseman Nick Etten and shortstop George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss, all of whom are featured in the photo gallery.

Of course, the Yankees still had future Hall of Famers on the roster, including catcher Bill Dickey and second baseman Joe Gordon, who led New York to a World Series title in 1943, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

The Yankees returned to the Jersey shore in 1944 and 1945, holding spring training in Atlantic City, N.J.

The 1946 season would see the return of DiMaggio and Rizzuto, plus the debut of Yogi Berra, as the club headed to St. Petersburg, Fla. for spring training.

In 1951, the Yankees gave the Cactus League a shot by holding spring training in Phoenix, Ariz.

But in 1952 the Yankees returned to Florida, and have called the Sunshine State their spring training home ever since.

Mike Rosenstein may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @rosenstein73. Find on Facebook.