As some of you may have noticed from my personal Instagram and Facebook posts, I recently returned from a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona to watch some Spring Training baseball. In addition to getting away from the dreary Vancouver weather, I wanted to get inspired by the excitement of another baseball season about to begin. That is the thing with spring… it’s a new beginning. Optimism. A fresh start.
While sitting at Scottsdale Stadium, awaiting the Giants vs. Indians game, enjoying the sun and the beer in centre field and watching the teams get ready, I took the opportunity to read an article on the history of the Cactus League in Play Ball Magazine, the Official Spring Training Guide. This is a super cool magazine, available for free, that gives you a schedule of all the games in Arizona, as well as some interesting stories about the game.
The Chicago White Stockings (now the White Sox) was the first team to play a barnstorming game in Arizona in 1909. The Detroit Tigers became the first team to officially train there, in 1929. They played several games against local teams, but in 1930, they moved their spring camp to California and never returned to Arizona. In 1947, Bill Veeck convinced the then New York Giants owner, Horace Stoneham, to train in Phoenix while his Cleveland Indians trained in Tucson. The Chicago Cubs then moved their team to Mesa, AZ from Catalina Island, CA in 1952. The Orioles started training in Yuma in 1954 and the Cactus League was officially born. In 1959, the New York Giants won the first Cactus League World Series, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games. Among the highlights was “the catch” made by MLB hero Willie Mays that prevented a Cleveland rally with two men on.
Check out the amazing catch.
(And check out the great Willie Mays image. Drop by the store, as the sports canvas print is currently 20% off. It’s the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life or for your man cave.)
The Red Sox took up residence in Scottsdale in 1959, and fans got to see the last two years of Ted Williams’ career and the start of Carl Yastrzemski’s. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots trained in Tempe and the San Diego Padres started in Yuma. Charlie Finley’s A’s trained in Mesa in 1969. They went on to win three World Series titles (1972-74) while training there!
Now, half the MLB teams train in Arizona in the Cactus League, with the other half in Florida in the Grapefruit League. If you need a little sun and enjoy baseball, it is a pleasant way to see games for cheap. I was lucky enough to catch Nolan Baumgartner’s start for the Giants. Man can he throw!
Continue to watch the Vintage Sports Images blog, as I will be writing a few more articles on Spring Training before the season starts in April.