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70 years ago The Cactus League Got Its Start In Arizona

How the Cactus League got its start in Arizona 70 years ago

the cactus league

Ah, March. While folks back East are still praying for an end to an interminable winter, we in Arizona are enjoying longer days and basking in a warm sun.

2017 is a milestone year for spring training baseball in Arizona.

As you sit in one of our 10 intimate ballparks you’ll be continuing a tradition that began 70 years ago.

Teams traveled by rail across the country looking for a ball field and local teams near the tracks for some pick-up games.

These informal scratch contests started to become more formal after World War II.

What would become the Cactus League began in 1947 with just two teams.

Veeck persuaded his friend to bring the Giants out to Arizona for spring training.

What solidified it for Stoneham was the chance discovery of a recently opened health spa with hot mineral water — the first of its kind in the Valley.

Stoneham decided to bring his best players out to the Buckhorn Baths for a week of pampered spa treatments.

The third post-War team to make the Valley its spring training home was the Chicago Cubs.

the cactus league

For many years, chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley brought the team out to his Catalina Island retreat 20 miles off the coast from Los Angeles.

When World War II disrupted activities on the West Coast, the team finally landed in Los Angeles — something management didn’t like.

That’s when Mesa businessman, rancher, and Chamber of Commerce leader Dwight Patterson persuaded Wrigley to relocate the Cubs to Mesa.

After a tour of Mesa and Rendezvous Park, Clarence Rowland, president of the Cubs’ L.A. farm team, who was looking for the “healthful clean fun a smaller city can offer,” returned to California, saying, “One of the main reasons why the Cubs do not want to train in Los Angeles … is that the city offers too much nightlife and glamour. ”

For the 1952 spring training season, the Cactus League had swelled to three teams.

Except for a 12-year period between 1966 and 1978, the Cubs have called Mesa home.

In the 70 years since the first Cactus League games were played between the Indian and Giants, springtime baseball has expanded to 15 teams playing in 10 ballparks.

Today Mesa has two ballparks — Hohokam and Sloan.

Source: How the Cactus League got its start in Arizona 70 years ago