Major leaguers face a similar challenge each February: what to pack for spring training. For Rockies starting center fielder Dexter Fowler, deciding what to bring involved a several-year learning curve -- and some rookie mistakes.
Fowler’s first spring training was seven years ago. Unsure of what he’d need, he brought collared shirts -- a lot of collared shirts. In fact, he bought the entire Lacoste spring collection.
“In the minors, you have to wear collared shirts, so I got every color of Lacoste shirt,” Fowler said. “Everybody was laughing at me.”
Since that first season, he’s adjusted his packing practices. Now 26 and beginning his fifth full season in the majors, Fowler has mastered the do’s and don’ts of what he’ll need during his month-and-a-half-long stay in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I definitely bring less stuff than I did in the past because I know I’ll go shopping and buy more,” Fowler said. The Atlanta native got married in the offseason and says his wife, Aliya, has heavily influenced his packing.
Before departing for Arizona, the Fowlers initiate a spring cleaning of sorts, giving away clothing to philanthropic and church organizations. Then Aliya packs their bags: “I get anxiety packing because I will take my whole closet even though I don’t have room, so my wife packs for me,” Dexter said.
After packing, they ship some clothing and items to Arizona. They bring the rest with them. Fowler typically fills one large suitcase and a big duffle bag. This year, he estimates that he and his wife brought about 10 bags’ worth of clothing and necessities between the two of them, with some room in the bags for any purchases made in Arizona.
Fowler is an avid shopper, particularly for shoes -- he brought 20 or 25 pairs to spring training alone, as did his wife, and estimates he owns around 300 pairs. “Put it this way -- I’ve worn a different pair of shoes every day I’ve been here,” Fowler said. “Everyone says I should open my own shoe store.”
He and Aliya intentionally under-pack so they can enjoy the Scottsdale shopping. “The strategy is, don’t pack for at least two out of five days you’re going so that when you don’t have anything to wear, you have to go shopping,” Aliya said.
They’ll shop anywhere from Louis Vuitton to Nordstrom’s while also perusing the merchandise in local boutiques such as High Point shoes, which is owned by Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson. One of Aliya’s favorite stops is clothing boutique Nove.
In addition to shoes, Dexter considers electronics a “must-have” at spring training. While he’s not a video game player, he brings various Apple products, including a laptop stocked with movies and music.
He also packs his golf clubs, even though he doesn’t have a lot of free time to hit the greens (thus far during spring training, he’s played golf twice). Ever the stylish dresser, he also brings along his watch collection.
Fowler says that he and teammate Carlos Gonzalez are the best-dressed Rockies. The worst? “Charlie Blackmon,” Fowler said. “He came in the clubhouse one time and one of my teammates said, ‘Who let the homeless guy in?’”
Last season, Dexter and Aliya added a new item to their packing list: their dog, Gucci, a three-and-a-half-pound Maltese/Yorkie mix. “He was a mess when he first got here,” Fowler said, laughing. “We let him run around the field sometimes and my wife will bring him on road trips.” Aliya loves to dress Gucci in various outfits, though she laughed while noting that Dexter is not a fan and will take them off the puppy whenever he visits the field.
While a dog may not be a typical packing necessity, Fowler has seen some odd items at spring training over the years. “Eric Young Jr. brought his whole clipper set because he wanted to cut everyone’s hair,” Fowler said, before adding, “He’s actually pretty good.”
Fowler says that most of his teammates bring Xbox consoles or PlayStations. Beyond clothing and electronics, it depends on the player’s individual preferences. Still, he’s happy to offer his advice to any spring training novices.
“I’d tell a first-time spring training guy to bring one suit, a pair of dress shoes, a sport coat, a few button-up shirts, casual things and a bunch of pairs of shoes,” Fowler said.
And if they need a little style help? Dexter has had several teammates and friends on other teams enlist Aliya as their spring training stylist. “Dexter always looks fresh and the guys ask him where he gets stuff and the next thing I know, a player is texting me asking me to find him shoes in this size,” Aliya said. “I’ll go on the hunt for them -- it’s never-ending.”
And what about the Lacoste shirt collection -- does it still make an appearance?
“Those are long gone. I grew out of them, fortunately,” Dexter said, laughing.