Traveling to Phoenix for work feels surreal. It’s the city of my birth, yet it looks nothing like I remember. An electric light rail zips through the city, connecting the suburbs with downtown, and as a result a new Phoenix has risen. It is a place people seek out on weekends, wandering the streets, enjoying the cultural offerings, and sampling the local fare. The city and its suburbs are thriving, and welcoming visitors with open arms. Many travelers will arrive during the next month for the weather, but just as many will come for baseball and spring training.
Spring Training in Phoenix, Arizona
This week marks the beginning of Cactus League spring training in the Phoenix area, where 15 Major League Baseball teams converge on the Valley of the Sun to play more than 200 games. It has been twenty five years since my last spring training ball game, but I am anticipating the experience immensely. As a mom of three young baseball players and a former softball player, I am officially a “baseball mom”. As you can probably guess, my boys (and husband) are a bit jealous of the time I will get to spend at the ballparks. They have sent me with baseballs and trading cards in hand, hoping I will bring home an autograph or two.
What Makes Spring Training Unique
The beauty of seeing spring training in Phoenix is that the stadiums are fairly close together and easy to access. There are 10 stadiums spread throughout the greater metropolitan area, and the longest distance between any two stadiums is 45 minutes. The rumor is that it is possible to see three games in a day, but I haven’t put that to the test.
Another thing I remember from childhood is the intimacy of the venues and the opportunities to interact with the players. The fields seat anywhere from 7,000 to 15,000 fans, so it feels more like to a minor league ballpark experience than a major league one. The players seem to enjoy mingling with the fans and they are more accessible than they are during the regular season. You can walk right up to the bull pen and really get close to the action.
How to Get Those Autographs
I did my research on this one, and most players are willing to do autographs prior to the game. It’s best to arrive at least a half hour beforehand and position yourself near the team’s dugout unless the team has a designated autograph area and time. Some of the bigger name players don’t stay for the entire game, so it’s best to catch them before the game begins because they might not be around when it finishes.
Tips for a Successful Day at the Game
Wear and bring sunscreen (the high SPF the better in my opinion). Re-apply often.
Wear a hat to protect your head and face from the sun.
Don’t wear dark color shirts or hats. They will absorb the heat and make you very hot.
Drink plenty of water. Some stadiums allow you to bring in sealed bottles of water, so check before you go and bring plenty with you.
Check and see if your stadium allows you to bring your own food. Some venues allow a small cooler.
Bring a lawn chair or blanket if you buy a lawn seat. If you bring a lawn chair, check to make sure it’s the right type. Some stadiums only allow low sitting lawn chairs to be brought inside. The lawn seats will get really hot because you’re in the sun the entire game. Consider bringing a misting fan to keep you cool throughout the day.
Get your tickets early if you’re going to a popular game. Tickets will sell out.
The Cactus League Spring Training in Phoenix has been a tradition for almost seventy years that continues to be enjoyed by locals and visitors every spring. I’m looking forward to exploring the different venues, trying some unique ball park food, and watching great baseball in the warm Arizona sun. Life is good.
Have you been to Spring Training in Phoenix?
For more successful tips, head over to the Cactus League Spring Training page at Visit Phoenix.
*This is written as part of a sponsored trip, but all opinions are 100% my own.