Cactus League – The Boys of Summer in Spring Training

Phoenix, AZ

A special note to my readers: It’s been one year since I started Journeys with Johnbo. I thank you for following my musings and photos in my first year and hope you stick around for more. As tomorrow is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, it’s apropos that this week’s photo story feature springtime activities. I submit for your critique a sampling of photos taken at spring training baseball games.

In 1947, two baseball teams came to springtime Arizona to train for the summer baseball season. Since those early days when the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants became a league that has grown to today’s fifteen teams in the metro area, baseball fans have found plenty of exciting games to choose from. The fifteen teams that make up the Cactus League share ten baseball parks located throughout the Phoenix metro area.

Goodyear Ballpark seats about 10,000 fans.

For my wife, Lynn, and me, the closest ballpark is Goodyear Ballpark, only about twenty minutes from our winter home. Home to both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, the park holds about 10,000 fans. The two teams from Ohio share the park on game day. When the Reds are at “home”, the Indians are playing “away” at one of the other ten parks, and vice versa. On occasion, they play each other, as it was when Lynn and I went to our first Cactus League game.

The pitcher tries to catch a runner “sleeping.” You can see the ball in flight right by the umpire’s left ear. The runner was safe.

As a boy, I listened to the venerable voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully. His play-by-play descriptions did much to endear me to baseball. As a youth, I spent many an hour “pitching” a baseball against a nearby concrete wall. I fancied myself as Don Drysdale or Sandy Koufax, but never found myself on an organized team. When I played baseball in school and teams were chosen, I was relegated with the other talentless players to right field.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder, Skip Schumaker, hits an RBI single.

With college and a career taking priority for me, baseball was put on the back burner until only a few years ago, when I was given some tickets to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The hometown feel of the small field and the camaraderie of the local fans drew me back to the game. What could be better than a cold beer, a hot dog, and the cheers of the crowd at the crack of bat against ball?

My favorite place to watch a game is behind home plate. Unfortunately, that’s the worst place for photography. I find it fascinating how the protective netting becomes invisible to the eye in only moments as one gets involved in following the game, yet it is an immediate and permanent distraction in any photos taken. Best places for photography in most ball parks are along the first or third base lines. However, since there is no protective netting to block the view, a wise photographer pays extra attention to what’s going on with that little white baseball.

The Reds mascot gets ready to fire up the fans during the “seventh inning stretch.”

From February to early April, the Cactus League’s season provides the baseball fan with a daily schedule of games, all within a short drive from each other. You can choose to follow your favorite team to all their home and away games, or you can pick and choose to attend any given game from any two teams. Best of all, ticket prices are a bargain when compared to regular season games. If you’re in the Phoenix area during spring training, check out a game. There’s sure to be a ballpark only a short drive from where you are staying. You can find out more details about the cactus league at their website here.

John Steiner

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4 thoughts on “Cactus League – The Boys of Summer in Spring Training

  1. My mom instilled love of Phillies baseball in me…I live for the first smack of the bat. I can’t wait for spring training games, and opening games, and new stadiums. I was in Connie Mack (Phillies), Vet Stadium (Phillies), and Bank One something-or-other (Phillies). I have also been in the original Yankee’s Stadium – in full Phillies regalia. I have been to Triple-A in Delaware, Albuquerque, and if I could find baseball in ND, I’d go there too. I have attended spring training games in AZ. The Phillie Phanatic is the best mascot!

    • You are indeed a true baseball fan. I don’t know where you are in ND, but you can’t go wrong watching the RedHawks at Neumann Field in Fargo. We buy a flex pack every year. 13 games for the price of 10.

      • I am in Minot. I am a baseball snob…if it’s not MLB, and not RED, I’m don’t have much interest. Though we are talking about going to MN.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Off-Season | Journeys with Johnbo

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