Happy’s guide to the Cactus League
I’ve visited the great state of Arizona for Spring Training on three prior occasions.
This March/April will make it the fourth.
I’m not a seasoned veteran but I do feel like I’ve learned a bit on the way.
I’ve attended games at the following parks:
- Maryvale Baseball Park (Go Brewers!)
- Peoria Sports Complex (Padres/Mariners)
- Phoenix Municipal Stadium (A’s)
- Scottsdale Stadium (Giants)
- Tempe Diablo Stadium (Angels)
- Tuscon Electric Park (D’backs)
Here’s my guide to maximizing your travels to the Cactus League…
(only based on my opinions/personal experience).
- Originally built in 1955
- Replaced in 1991
- 12,000 capacity
This park is a beauty. I attended in 1999 to catch a glimpse of Bonds.
Not the best for ballhawking when I was there due to crowds out on the berm.
Scottsdale is the nicest city in the Phoenix metro area (expensive, too).
The Pink Pony Steakhouse
(from Yahoo business overview)
In the days when downtown Scottsdale was truly still “the West’s most
western town,” this venerable venue was THE place to gather. For many,
it still is. The dining room is cowboy, but the bar is purely a sports
shrine. Baseball’s Cactus League games are played at the nearby
Scottsdale Stadium and both players and fans can be found drinking and
dining. Steaks and prime ribs hit home runs here.
Speaking of prime rib…let me tell you-it was awesome!
Their slogan is “good place to day drink.”
I went to the one in Scottsdale. Kind of an uppity crowd of 20′s & 30′s.
Fun bar with good Mexican food and drink.
picture says it all. Beautiful mountains beyond left field. Bad for
ballhawking-if I remember correctly, they don’t have many seats to sit
in the outfield :(
course, I’m biased a bit. This park is a hawker’s dream! The outfield
is one gigantic grass berm. For a measly $6 berm ticket, grab a cold
one or ten, a blanket and run your butt off for the ball…it’s a
It’s in the roughest part of Phoenix (West-side), but once you’re in the lot, the Phoenix Police Dept. takes care of the rest.
year, I was able to shag baseballs for the Brewers during one of their
practices at this park. Staff told me I had to throw the baseballs
back onto the field. That was fine with me…gave me a chance to show
off my arm a little.
My catcher you ask? None other than former star backstop-Ted Simmons. What a blast!
I look forward to that opportunity again.
A few notes:
- If you go, do yourself a favor…rent a car! Yeah, the Cactus League Parks are set up in close proximity, but you want the freedom.
- If you want to be safe and budget a little…stay in Tempe (home of Ariz. State Univ.).
- If you want to be safe and splurge a little…stay in Scottsdale.
- I would not recommend staying on the West side of Phoenix near the Maryvale neighborhood. (Trust me-I know crime statistics)
- If you go to the Grand Canyon, bring food, water and a good pair of shoes.
- It gets cooler at night so don’t forget the sweatshirts!
- Tickets to most games (minus the Scrubs, err…I mean Cubs) are usually available day of game.
- Go early and wander around the parks you attend. This is your chance to reach out to your favorite players in a laid back setting…take advantage of it! It’s pure heaven.
- Bring a baseball (or something similar) and a pen to get autographs
(when you least expect it-you’ll see a player you want an autograph
of). By pure luck- I ran into HOF’er Reggie Jackson back in 2000. He
got dropped off at Peoria Sports Complex. I had an extra baseball in
my backpack and had it signed.
- Wear sunglasses and lots of sunscreen…yeah,
seems elementary, but you’d be surprised on how many trips are ruined
because of extreme sunburn. When you come from the Upper Midwest, like
me, your body is already a little paler than the next guy…it’s been
hiding all winter. Protect it!
- Yuk it up with the players-this is your chance to interact!
- Bring your glove!!!!! (I refuse to elaborate on the obvious)
- Hit up Jack N’ the Box. It’s cheap fast food, but I’m obsessed with their burgers.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the players whatever is on your mind. I had conversations with everyone that would listen.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your fellow fans.
If you’re following a specific team, network with other fans of the
same team. You’ll meet people from all around and you might even learn
make a new friend.
- Am I forgetting anything?
Again…if anyone will be in the Phoenix area March 27-April 2, give me a holler.