Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is still weeks away, but you can get your fix early with Spring Training.
Every year, thousands of fans journey to Arizona and Florida to watch favorite teams hone their skills before the beginning of the regular season. The Cactus League consists of 15 Major League teams training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. Teams in the Grapefruit League train throughout the state of Florida.
In March of 2010, my brother Brandon and I traveled to Arizona to watch five ballgames in four days. Here is a diary of the trip.
As with any vacation, advance planning is the key. First, visit the league website to select the games you wish to see. Most days have multiple games in the afternoon and at least one night game. To purchase game tickets you must go to each team’s website.
Next, follow the usual vacation plan: airline, rental car, hotel. With teams spead throughout the Phoenix area, a rental car is a neccessity (remember, the earlier you reserve, the more you can save!). We chose a chain motel in the center of the city with each game an equal distance away.
Day 1: After arriving in Phoenix from Kansas City, Brandon and I had time to drive around before heading to nearby Goodyear to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds share Goodyear Ballpark with the Cleveland Indians.
Day 2: With two games to see, we had to map our day carefully. Maryville Stadium is the training home of the Milwaukee Brewers, who were playing the Kansas City Royals (Go Royals!). This small park was in a residential suburb and parking was a challenge.
Parking was not an issue at the expansive Camelback Ranch, spring home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. This massive sports complex has all the amenities of a regular baseball stadium. The San Diego Padres played the Dodgers that night.
Day 3: Surprise Stadium is quite a drive out of town, but for any Royals fan (Go Royals!) it’s worth the trip. Kansas City played the Colorado Rockies in a facility shared with the Texas Rangers. As with many spring training parks, the stadiums are small enough that you can get great seats at low prices (we we able to lean into the dugout for autographs!).
Day 4: On our last day we had tickets for Texas @ San Francisco in the Giant’s training home (Scottsdale Stadium). This park was also in a residential area with parking several blocks away. On this, our final day, the Arizona sun got the better of us as we left early for the cool confines of the airport to begin our journey home.
This was a fun and memorable trip for my brother and me thanks to careful planning and the resouces available at the Library. There are still a few weeks before Spring Training starts…what are you waiting for?