Spring Training Review
Guides to Stadiums & Teams In Arizona's Cactus League
The relaxed atmosphere of Spring Training games is great for fans in Arizona.
The crack of bats, the pop of baseballs hitting leather gloves, the sights of sitting in the sunshine on a beautiful day watching a big-league sport in a small-league setting.
This is Spring Training in Arizona's Cactus League. Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale, Tempe and even a town called Surprise are host to 12 major league teams playing in nine stadiums in the beautiful Western desert.
The relative compactness of the area makes this a far better place than Florida's Grapefruit League to see a multitude of games and teams in a short timeframe. While Florida has teams spread out all over the state, those in Arizona are confined to basically a single city and its suburbs.
In 2013, the key dates are:
• Feb. 12 Pitchers, catchers and injured players report
• Feb. 20 – Mandatory date all players must report
• March 3-April 3 – Spring Training games
The view from behind home plate at Maryvale Park for an A's game.
Spring Training game are a hit among fans each March in Arizona.
And it's a hit among fans. Each March, snowbirds flock down from cold northern cities anxious for a bit of the good 'ol summertime in the springtime. Southern Californians – known for their love of carefree days in the sunshine – slide into town for a day, days or a weekend.
It's even a big attraction for locals, who turn out to see the scene. There are six games nearly every day of the week, top pros play alongside prospects and the relaxed pace of practice and even games creates an atmosphere so fine that fans don't care if they ever go back. Batter up!
Many of the people are found at the 12,500-seat Hohokam Park in Mesa. They have winged it here to avoid the winter winds of Chicago (though they might be quite surprised to learn it snowed in Phoenix in January '07). They are joined by others from the area or all over the place, displaced Chicagoans who want to see if this is the year their beloved team finally has the tools to make it to the World Series.
This makes Cubs' games the toughest ticket in the towns. Everyone, except of course anyone with a billygoat, wants to see the Cubbies.
Fans soak up the atmosphere at a Spring Training game in Arizona.
One of the more pleasant places is Scottsdale Stadium. Spring home to the San Francisco Giants, it's mere walking distance of downtown Scottsdale's many restaurants – and bars. And since afternoon cocktails are a favorite locals' pastime, this enables game-goers to easily indulge in a little of the area's culture.
Of prime local interest is Tuscon Electric Park, home of the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. They share the facility with the Chicago White Sox. For those looking for a fly in/fly out day at the ballpark, Tempe's Diablo Stadium is just minutes from Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. And don't think people from Orange County don't do just this – it's where to catch the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are now in Arizona, having moved from its longtime home in Vero Beach, Fla. The Dodgers now train at a new facility in Glendale, Cameback Ranch. It is a shared facility with the Chicago White Sox. It has seating for 10,000, plus and additional 3,000 on a grass hillsides.
So for taking one's self out to the ol' ballgame, there's not place like Spring Training in Arizona.
– SPRING TRAINING STADIUMS, CACTUS LEAGUE –
Teams step up to the plate for Spring Training in March.
• Arizona Diamondbacks/Chicago White Sox. Tuscon Electric Park, 2500 East Ajo Way, Tuscon (520) 434-1000. Tickets: $5-16.
• Chicago Cubs. Hobokam Park. 1235 N. Center Street, Mesa. (800) 905-3315. Tickets: $6-26.
• Colorado Rockies. Hi Corbett Field. 3400 Camino Campestre, Tuscon. (520) 237-WINS. Tickets $4-17.
• Kansas City Royals/Texas Rangers. Surprise Stadium, No. Bullard and Bell Rd.. Surprise. (623) 594-5600. Tickets: $7-22.
• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 We. Alameda Dr., Tempe. (480) 350-5205. Tickets: $5-25.
• Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Whe Sox. Camelback Ranch. 10710 West Camelback Rd. (101 & Camelback), Glendale. (623) 877-8585. Tickets: $6-21.
• Milwaukee Brewers/Oakland A's. Maryvale Baseball Park Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 5999 E. Van Buren Phoenix. (800) 225-2277. Tickets: $6-25.
• San Francisco Giants. Scotttsdale Stadium. 7408 E. Osborne Rd., Scottsdale. (800) 225-2277. TIckets: $8-28.
• Seattle Mariners/San Diego Padres. Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria. (800) 409-1511. Tickets $6-23.
Most Spring Training games begin at 1, and the weather can be hot.
SPRING TRAINING TIPS – Practices start either at 8 or 9 in the morning and usually go until about 1 p.m...Most games begin at 1:05...Daylight Savings Time, which begins March 11, is not observed in Arizona...One cool tip is to check out the "B" Games, morning encounters that feature rookies and other prospects trying to make the big-league club...Be prepared for the SUN. It is WARM in the Arizona desert, so bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water...Players with high numbers – 60s, 70s – are unlikely to make the big-league roster...Approach players for autographs. Some my comply and some may not, but it's certainly more a relaxed environment to ask than a big-league game...Best place to stay – and play? That's easy. Old Town Scottsdale.