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Monday, January 30, 2017

SPRING TRAINING: Arizona



Ed - In conjunction with Tim's Spring Training Primer report at Tim's Sports World, we're running this article from our Spring Training trip...

In the midst of Tim’s junior year of college, we finally caught a break…spring break, that is.  This year, it coincided with Spring Training, something we’ve never done but always wanted to try.
Tim had just turned 21, so we told him we’d take him to the casinos of Nevada to celebrate.  After a couple of days there (Tim actually had some luck on the Roulette wheel), we headed across Hoover Dam and into Arizona.
Looking at the Cactus League schedule for that time, we saw that our team…the Angels…were to be playing the Texas Rangers at the Ranger’s facility, Surprise Stadium.  The stadium was on the way, so we stopped by and picked up tickets for the next day’s game.


It was an easy and quick transaction at the box office and had no problems at all securing a wheelchair seat plus two companion seats about 2/3 of the way from home plate to first base at the top of the field level seating bowl.
It’s a bit of a drive from Surprise to Phoenix.  Everything is a bit of a drive in Phoenix.
Our hotel would be the Phoenix Inn and Suites, a decent place with large rooms and roll-in showers.  Now, it’s called Hampton Inn Biltmore.
For dinner, we went to Coyote Grill on Bell Road in Scottsdale, a very good place…at least it was.  It’s now been replaced by a Scottish-themed Hooter’s knockoff.
The next day was spent lounging around the pool, waiting for game time.  Tim likes to get to games right when the gates open, so we left the hotel around 5:00 for the 7:30 game.  Good thing we did because the freeways stopped a ways before Surprise.  Traffic was a nightmare on those surface streets that were just not designed for the amount of cars the ever-expanding Phoenix area was dumping on them. 
We arrived about 6:30, put on our red Angels shirts and hats, found our seats and settled in for the game. 
It’s a relaxed atmosphere at a spring training game.  The managers of the teams actually sit on the field behind home plate instead of the dugout to better see how their players’ forms are. After all, these are training sessions for them.
While a number of big stars take the field at the beginning, they are rotated off after a couple of innings so that new players, rookies, and minor leaguers can take the field and be assessed.

Still, it’s a baseball game.  Beer, hot dogs, 7th inning stretch…that’s all still there.  The night we went the crowd set a new attendance record at the stadium…over 12,000 in attendance with the majority wearing red and rooting for the Angels.
The Angels we on to win and we left happy.  As for the prices, it can get a bit spendy. I was expecting minor league prices but in actuality, it’s somewhere between what you’d spend at a minor league game and a regular season game.
The next morning, we drove over to Tempe to see the Angels’ facility at Tempe Diablo Stadium.  There was no game but the team was working out.  Watching the workout was free and the access into the seating bowl presents no barriers to those in wheelchairs.  In this pre-2008 season workout, it was easy to get up close and personal with such players as Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson, and Chone Figgins who have all gone on to other teams or retirement.
It’s a loose and friendly atmosphere and you can actually chat with the players and coaches.  Many will come to the sidelines to autograph balls or other mementos.  First base coach Alfredo Griffin took a bucket of balls and a Sharpie which he used to sign balls and toss to fans in the stands one at a time.


It was a fun way to welcome baseball back for the year and to get excited for another season of our favorite sport.  The Angels would go on to win their division but get knocked out by the Red Sox in the first round of playoffs.
For more information, see our Field of Dreams report on Surprise Stadium and visit cactusleague.com for Arizona Spring Training information.
-Darryl
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved




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