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Sunday November 23rd 2014

Return to Phoenix for Cactus League 2011

Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona
All photos courtesy of Amazing Travel Photos

Normally I would start my annual world tour only after the winter has finished, which would be the end of March or beginning of April. But this year I decided to start my travels earlier in order to visit the Phoenix area for the Cactus League, which is Major League Baseball’s spring training season in Phoenix.

It’s only mid-February, but this is when the pitchers and catchers arrive at the spring training camps. About half of the major league teams have their spring training camps in the Phoenix area. This will be a great place to be in March when the Cactus League officially starts. The stadiums are small, most seating under 10,000 fans. Tickets are not expensive. At many stadiums, you can sit on the lawn in the outfield for 6 or 8 dollars. Best of all, you can see the players close up, get autographs and take pictures.

Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

The last time I was here for the Cactus League was in 2004. All these pictures are from Cactus League 2004. That year I went to many different stadiums and saw all kinds of baseball action. There are lots of opportunities for kid to get autographs, take pictures of the players or even catch a baseball. One Brewers practice game I attended I caught six baseballs! You can see all the stars as well as up and coming prospects. Everything is much more relaxed than during the regular season.

Padres player signs autograph at Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

I like going to the practice session where the coaches teach the new players everything from how to slide into second (not head first!) to how to turn the double play. It’s interesting watching the players work on their fundamentals like fielding grounders and pop-ups.

Royals players in the dugout at Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

If you spend enough time at spring training camps, you can see everything the managers and coaches see about the players. This would probably give you an edge at Fantasy baseball.

Royals manager Tony Pena at Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

Being from southern California, naturally I follow the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels play at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe. So I rented a furnished apartment near downtown Tempe, Arizona which will be my base of operations during the Cactus League season.

My apartment is not too far from Mill Avenue, which is where all the restaurants are. It’s also near Arizona State University (ASU). From Tempe Transit Center, I can take a Valley Metro bus straight to Tempe Diablo stadium to see the Angels, or to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to catch the Oakland Athletics. The Chicago Cubs are nearby at Hohokam Field in Mesa and the San Franciso Giants are in Scottsdale. All are within a short distance of Tempe and accessible by public transportation.

Here’s a google map with all the Cactus League stadiums.


View Larger Map

There’s also the new Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will play at for the first time. To see some of the other teams that play out in the west valley, like in Peoria or Surprise, I would have to drive to get there from Tempe. I might just wait until they come to play in the east valley. Here’s the official site of the Cactus League.

Milwaukee Brewers play in Maryvale during  Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

Here’s Vlad Guerrero when he just joined the Angels in 2004. He hit pretty well that year, his first season with the Angels. His slash line was .337/.391/.598 [Slash line is Batting-Average/On-Base-Percentage/Sluggin-Pecentage. Anything over .300/.370./.500 is excellent.] Vlad hit 39 home runs and had 127 RBIs. That is some good stats. He had six good years when he played for the Angels from 2004 - 2009.

Angel Vlad Guerrero at Cactus League spring training in Phoenix, Arizona

The Angels, under manager Mike Scioscia won the American League West division title that year (2004) with a record of 92-70. Then they were swept by the Boston Red Sox, who went on to win their first World Series since 1918, breaking the curse of the Bambino. That was one historic season.

I have lots more pictures from that trip. I know I got some pictures of Barry Bonds somewhere. Here are the 2004 Cactus League Photo Galleries by Team:

Anaheim Angels Spring 2004
Oakland Athletics Spring 2004
Milwaukee Brewers Spring 2004
Seattle Mariners Spring 2004
San Diego Padres Spring 2004
Texas Rangers Spring 2004
Kansas City Royals Spring 2004

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