Our First Visit to Citi Field

Ballpark #18

We made our first visit to Citi Field – our 18th Ballpark – on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 when the NY Mets played host to the Chicago White Sox for a 7:05 PM interleague game. Hope you enjoy this overview and collection of photos.

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Great views of the ballpark exterior while we walked up the adjacent street. Beautiful design – resembling Ebbets Field. And had to get a picture by Shea’s HR Apple!

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People

Traveling to this ballpark with me was my son, Trevor. We hope to visit all the ballparks together and were happy for this opportunity to check NY off of our list of destinations.

We also had hoped to meet up with Gary Herman (no relation – ha) once again but we arrived early and he arrived just before the game was about to begin. Add to that my cell battery being nearly on empty and we simply couldn’t manage enough communication to conveniently meet. If you are not familiar with Gary, you should know that he is an avid sports fan who attends more games than you can imagine and also arranges travel plans and tours for others. Please learn more about Gary and Royalty Tours by visiting his blog.

Although I was disappointed not to get to see Gary, I will add that he gave me a fabulous tip … he said, if you are going to Citi Field, be sure to use the Rotunda Gate (which was our plan) and meet Security Guard, Sam Citron. When we arrived, I spotted him right away from the picture in Gary’s blog so I got in his line. Sure enough, I introduced myself as a friend of Gary’s and he gave us a huge smile … said, “Welcome to Citi Field – Enjoy the Game!” I felt right at home!

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Trevor and Rebecca in the OF; Trevor with his #18 sign; Sam – most awesome and welcoming person with security – must see him at the Rotunda!; and Rebecca with her #18 sign.

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History

Jackie Robinson Rotunda

The entry rotunda is designed around a tribute to Jackie Robinson. The partnership aims to recognize and perpetuate, in and around the rotunda and the community, Robinson’s legacy and the “nine values” he embodied as articulated by his daughter and Jackie Robinson Foundation Vice Chair, Sharon Robinson: teamwork determination, persistence, excellence, commitment, citizenship, justice, courage, and integrity. You can place your feet in his footprints and get your picture by the #42.  This is a MUST DO when you go to Citi Field.

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Retired Numbers

The Mets have retired the following numbers in honor of the distinguished careers of:

  • #37 Casey Stengel; retired on September 2, 1965
  • #14 Gil Hodges;  retired on June 9, 1973
  • #41 Tom Seaver; retired on June 24th, 1988
  • “SHEA” was retired on April 8, 2002 in honor of William Shea.

Museum

We always enjoy visiting a team’s museum because it gives us a sense of who they are – where they’ve come from – what they’ve achieved through the years. Too often we are only familiar with what is happening today in baseball and taking the time to embrace a club’s history can be very meaningful. Like many museums of this kind, there are numerous exhibits including World Series trophies and rings, team Hall of Fame plaques – and much more. As noted earlier, you can access the museum from the Rotunda.

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The Mets Hall of Fame Museum.

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In the Museum – a great look at the three ballparks of the Mets

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Destination

Hotel

We had stayed in Manhattan the first part of our trip but with Citi Field being close to the airport and a very early flight the morning after the game, we decided to move closer. We selected the Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia Airport. It was pleasant enough and the staff was extremely accommodating. They have a shuttle that will take you to a train stop should you want to get into Manhattan (or elsewhere). That same shuttle also takes game-goers to their sister property, The Holiday Inn, which is in eye-shot of Citi Field. From there you can walk to the ballpark pretty easily. After the game, we walked back to the hotel and got the shuttle back to ours.  Simple enough – no rental car – no parking – no expense!

Gates & BP

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Hodges Entrance, and ticket windows will open 2 hours prior to each game so that fans may arrive early to watch infield and batting practice. All other gates will open 1 ½ hours prior to the start of the game. Opening times may vary for doubleheaders, concerts and special game dates. We recommend the Rotunda Gate … it is beautiful and houses the tribute to Jackie Robinson as well as the main team store and museum.

The following are times for Mets and visitor batting practices. Batting practice may not take place prior to every game.

12:10 p.m. 1:10 p.m. 4:10 p.m. 7:10 p.m. 8:10 p.m.
Mets BP 9:40 a.m. 10:40 a.m. 1:40 p.m. 4:40 p.m. 5:40 p.m.
Visitor BP 10:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 2:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

Do check the Mets A-Z Guide for up-to-date information.

Field

Here are the official details about the ballpark:

  • Capacity: 41,800
  • Size of the Entire Facility: 1.4 Million Square Feet
  • Surface: Natural Grass Playing

Field Distances:

  • Left Field Foul Pole – 335 feet
  • Left Field – 358 feet
  • Left Center – 385 feet
  • Center Field – 408 feet
  • Right Center – 398 feet
  • Right Field – 375 feet
  • Right Field Foul Pole – 330 feet
  • Height of Walls – 8 feet consistent from Foul Pole to Foul Pole

Citi Field’s Home Run Apple stands 16.5 feet tall and is 18 feet in diameter. The shell of the apple weighs 4,800 pounds, and its frame weighs 9,000 pounds. Unfortunately, no Home Runs at the game we attended so we didn’t get to see it! Guests are encouraged to visit the Shea Home Run Apple, which is now located in front of Citi Field in Mets Plaza.

We enjoyed our walk around the ballpark – typically the first thing we like to do when we get inside the ballpark. Always interesting to take in the view from many angles and get a feel for the overall atmosphere and culture of the ballpark. The Shea Bridge out in center field pays a nice tribute to the club’s history – plus – it’s pretty cool looking … we walked over it.

 

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Various views from assorted vantage points throughout the ballpark, including the Shea Bridge and Home Run Apple (hiding).

Food

It certainly was a shame that we had such a great lunch at the Hard Rock Café Yankee Stadium because we simply never truly got hungry at the game and there were so many wonderful choices!!

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Many wonderful choices for ballpark fare — and we truly wanted to try the Shake Shack – maybe next time!

 

The Game

Delta Silver Seating

We toured NYC the previous day and traveled to the Bronx earlier in the day to do an official Yankee Stadium Tour … by the time we had walked around the ballpark, we were pretty tired! So next up on our agenda was to find our seats and take in Batting Practice for a bit while relaxing. I had acquired some terrific Delta Silver tickets from StubHub. The seats were like sitting in a movie theater – high back, very padded, generous leg room, cup holders – and in-seat service! We used the in-seat service for drinks and snacks and I must say it was the fastest service I have ever experienced (and we have had in-seat service at many ballparks).

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View from our seats during Batting Practice.

DeltaSky360 Club

With the seats comes access to the club. The Delta Sky360 Club is located directly behind home plate on the Sterling Level. The club features a casual, market-style dining area, two full-sized bars, and the newly added full-service LaFrieda Chophouse.  We weren’t hungry and were more interested in the ballgame but it was certainly a lovely facility.

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A couple of the amenities in the DeltaSky360 Club.

 

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Sights from the game!

Matt Harvey

He was certainly fun to watch! What an exhibition on pitching. You just knew you were watching something awesome and I really thought he had the stuff to throw a perfect game.

  • 1st: Flyout; Lineout, Strikeout (S)
  • 2nd: Flyout; Strikeout (S); Stikeout (L)
  • 3rd: Groundout; Strikeout (S); Groundout
  • 4th: Strikeout (S); Groundout; Flyout
  • 5th: Groundout; Strikeout (L); Groundout
  • 6th: Strikeout (L); Flyout; Strikeout (S)
  • 7th: Strikeout (S); Groundout; SINGLE by Alex Rios! There goes the no-hitter! Strikeout (S)
  • 8th: Flyout; Groundout; Flyout
  • 9th: Flyout; Strikeout (S); Strikeout (S)

9 innings pitched; 12 strikeouts! 105 pitches/76 strikes; Great game by Matt Harvey!!

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Matt Harvey – what an amazing game! It was a pleasure to watch him pitch!

Victory

Mets won 1-0 over the White Sox in 10 innings. Check out the full boxscore if you are interested. Again, we seem to bring WINS to the teams we visit, which is why we stopped going to Padres road games – LOL! But truly, I’m thinking that teams might be wise to comp us some tickets when they really need a “W” in the win column!

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Time to CELEBRATE a Mets Victory!

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In Closing

I certainly enjoyed sharing our first visit to Citi Field with you and I hope you, too, will make a visit soon. I highly recommend planning your trip when you can include Yankee Stadium and sightseeing in NYC … take in the full Big Apple experience!

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Our First Visit to Yankee Stadium

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As noted in the April 30 post, we made our first visit to Yankee Stadium – our 17th Ballpark – on Saturday, May 4, 2013 when the NY Yankees played host to the Oakland A’s for a 1:05 PM game. I hope you enjoy this review and collection of photos.

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People

Traveling to this ballpark with me was my son, Trevor. We hope to visit all the ballparks together and were happy for this opportunity to check NY off of our list of destinations.

We also had the opportunity to meet up with Gary Herman (no relation) – see picture below. Gary is an avid sports fan who attends more games than you can imagine and also arranges travel plans and tours for others. Please learn more about Gary and Royalty Tours by visiting his blog.

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Yankee Stadium from the Jim Beam Suite seating … Top: Trevor & Rebecca; Bottom Left: Gary & Rebecca; Bottom Right: Rebecca

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History

In February of 1921, the Yankees announced that they had purchased 10 acres of property in the Bronx to build a new stadium. The stadium was built in an incredible 284 working days – in time for its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 versus (of course) the Boston Red Sox.  74,200 fans packed Yankee Stadium that day, Babe Ruth had a three-run homer, and the Yankees won 4-1.

The stadium remained relatively untouched except for the addition of lights in 1946. In the offseason of 1966-67 it received a $1.5 million upgrade. Then in 1972, the Yankees signed a 30-year lease with the plan to modernize again for the 1976 season. The Yankees actually moved to Shea Stadium for two seasons during the massive renovation. The last game was played in the original ballpark on Sept 21, 2008.

The “new” Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 with a seating capacity of 50,287 – actually fewer than the original stadium because seat width and legroom was increased to improve fan comfort. The field dimensions remained unchanged. The private luxury suites and party suites increased dramatically.

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Destination

Lodging & Transportation

We stayed in Manhattan on the Upper East Side at the Courtyard by Marriott on 92nd Street. The hotel selection was predicated on another event that I was attending at Columbia University. However, a Courtyard is often a nice choice and although not “budget” there are certainly more expensive hotels in NYC! Also, we only needed to walk a few blocks to reach the subway station … Green Line … Lexington Ave … also home of the #4 train, which goes to the Bronx and has a stop (161st Street) literally across the street from Yankee Stadium. When traveling to Yankee Stadium, I recommend visiting the MTA’s website where you can get schedules for all trains.

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Train station at 161st Street — Right across from Gate 6 of Yankee Stadium

Gates & Entry Times

Yankee Stadium has four gate locations for entry and exit:

  • Gate 2: adjacent to left field: Enter via Jerome Avenue and East 164th Street
  • Gate 4: behind home plate: Enter via East 161st Street and Jerome Avenue
  • Gate 6: adjacent to right field: Enter via East 161st Street and River Avenue
  • Gate 8: adjacent to center field: Enter via River Avenue and East 164th Street

Gates open two hours prior to the scheduled start time of every home game. Gate openings are subject to change during inclement weather and for special events, doubleheaders, Opening Day and postseason play. Do check the Yankee Stadium website for current gate information.

We arrived at Gate 6 well before the scheduled opening. We wanted to start there because that is the main gate and the one you see featured in pictures all the time.  We walked to Gate 4 and the adjacent “Suite Entrance” because our tickets permitted entry at this gate … and it was certainly a time-saver as well as first class!

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Yankee Stadium – Gate 6

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The Field

The first thing we always like to do when we enter a ballpark for the first time is to walk around the entire park … taking in the view from various points. This is, of course, assuming the ballpark allows this. Happy to report that Yankee Stadium was great! We were able to enter at about any point – head down closer to the field – take photos – move on – repeat! Loved it! Some of my favorite views were from the batter’s eye seating … beautiful!

We also made a quick stop in Monument Park. It was rather crowded and difficult to see and harder to take pictures. We knew we would be returning for a stadium tour on Tuesday, so we didn’t stay long and didn’t include any pictures in this story.

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Various field views at Yankee Stadium

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The Food

As we worked our way around the field, we also took note of the amazing array of food choices. My goodness – if anyone ever said they couldn’t find something to eat here – I’d have to check their senses … signs, pictures, and aromas abound!  Below are just SOME of the many selections available.

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Food choices abound at Yankee Stadium – something for every taste you desire!

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Jim Beam Suite

By the time we made our way around the field, made the quick visit to Monument Park, and checked out the various food options – batting practice was coming to a close and we were getting pretty hungry. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion in seeing all those yummy food venues! We decided it might be best to make our way to  Level 300 –  Jim Beam Suites and see what that had to offer.

We found our seats and decided to check in at the Suite Lounge. Several food options available in the lounge and plenty of Jim Beam at the bar – naturally! We opted for sharing a pizza – good choice – and sodas (free refills throughout the game)! Before leaving the lounge we also grabbed our complimentary peanuts and popcorn. Not bad.

The suite area also has some very nice outdoor seating areas with large flat screen TVs. I suppose if there was rain or very hot, it might be a great option. However, I can watch a ballgame on TV at home or in my hotel – so we headed to our seats. These had to be the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in at a ballgame – talk about cushy! WOW!  There was also in-seat service but I never saw any wait staff in our area … that feature definitely not up to the standards of other ballparks.

The view from 320B was fantastic! There were no blind spots on the field, we could see both dugouts pretty well, and the section is centered over home plate – ideal!

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Yankee Stadium Jim Beam Suites & Amenities

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YMCA

I always appreciate the hard-working grounds crew. They do absolutely amazing work to keep the baseball fields in tip-top shape, safe for the players, and beautiful to behold. They came out at the half-way point (middle of the 4th) and did the usual smoothing of the infield dirt. Meanwhile, the music system was blasting the “YMCA” song and everyone was up and singing along. But when it got to the Y-M-C-A part (you know it well … when everyone tries to form the letters!) … the guys dropped their rakes and did the movements in sync. What a hoot! They then picked them up – and continued working … until the next time when they again dropped them and did all the arm motions. I just loved it. This has me thinking … wonder what we can convince the guys in San Diego to do :-)

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Grounds Crew does the “Y-M-C-A” while smoothing the infield!

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Mariano Rivera

The Yankees had maintained a lead over the A’s and my son was especially excited to see the game in a Save situation because he really wanted Rivera to come out. But then the Yankees moved ahead a bit too much (4-0) and it looked like we might not get to see him. But the next thing you know, the A’s have scored and it is 4-2 … and out comes Rivera!

It was certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. This all-time Saves leader will most likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer and he announced his retirement earlier this year. Rivera has spent his entire MLB career with the Yankees – with his first appearance May 23, 1995 (19 years ago). He has 623 Saves, 12 All-Star selections, and 5 World Series championships … to name a few of his accolades.

Rivera did his job and the Yankees won 4-2 over the A’s. Check out the full boxscore if you are interested. We seem to bring WINS to the teams we visit, which is why we stopped going to Padres road games – LOL! But truly, I’m thinking teams might be wise to comp us some tickets when they really need a “W” in the win column!

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Mariano Rivera comes out and gets the SAVE!

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Good to Know

When you get to Yankee Stadium, be sure to stop by Guest Services near section 128. Nice folks work there and if it is your first Yankee game, you can sign up for a complimentary certificate. The certificate is available to be picked up after the 5th inning but we opted to have it mailed to us. It arrived the next week – very nice!

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New York Yankees First Game Certificate

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In Closing

I certainly enjoyed sharing our first visit to Yankee Stadium with you and I encourage you to make a visit soon. I highly recommend planning your trip when you can include Citi Field and sightseeing in NYC … take in the full Big Apple experience!

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Preparing for New York Ballpark Trip

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Our Ballpark Progress

In 2007, my son and I made our first ballpark road trip. We saw the Padres play the Cardinals at Busch Stadium (Ballpark #2 – Petco Park holds the #1 spot). We were hooked. We knew then and there that we must go on a quest to visit every ballpark in Major League Baseball. It has been more challenging than expected but fun nonetheless.

In 2008, we marked off 3: Angel Stadium (Ballpark #3), Twins at the Metrodome (Ballpark #4 … yes, now we must go back for Target Field), and Dodger Stadium (#5).

In 2009, 2 more off the list: Coors Field (Ballpark #6) and Oriole Park at Camden Yard (Ballpark #7).

In 2010, we visited Chase Field (Ballpark #8) for the first time. Returned in 2011 for the All-Star Game and 2013 for the World Baseball Classic.

2011 was a big ballpark year for us – 7: Comerica Park (Ballpark #9), Progressive Field (Ballpark #10), Minute Maid Park (Ballpark #11), Rangers Ballpark (Ballpark #12), AT&T Park (Ballpark #13), O.co Coliseum (Ballpark #14), and Safeco Field (Ballpark #15). Whew! Hit the half-way mark!

Only 1 in 2012: Kauffman Stadium (Ballpark #16).

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Upcoming New York Ballparks

Can’t say what all in is store for us in 2013 but do know we have two games/ballparks scheduled as we head to New York City on Friday!

Saturday, May 4, 2013 we will be at Yankee Stadium (Ballpark #17) to see the Yankee’s host the Oakland A’s at a 1:05 PM game. We will be sitting in the Jim Beam Suite 320A. We were disappointed to learn that there are no ballpark tours available because it is a day game but we plan to arrive when the gates first open.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 we will be at Citi Field (Ballpark #18) to see the Mets host the Chicago White Sox at 7:10 PM. We will be sitting in the Delta Silver 19 section. Again disappointed to not be able to do a ballpark tour because they are sold out until after the All-Star game! But again, we will arrive when the gates first open and take it all in as much as possible!

We are very excited about this upcoming trip and look forward to sharing it with you. Please post comments if you have suggestions for while we are at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.

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“42” The Story of Jackie Robinson

42Let me start by saying that I am certainly no movie critic … I don’t even go to a lot of movies at the theater. In addition, I rarely read movie reviews because I like to see what I want to see and form my own opinion on what I do or do not enjoy. So now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I want to share my thoughts about the movie, “42” – the Jackie Robinson story.

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Basic Plot Line

Naturally, the movie is a biopic of Jackie Robinson (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) in 1946 & 1947 … important to note that this is a mere snippet of time – the making of Jackie as a Brooklyn Dodger (crossing the baseball color line) and not really his playing career. This may or may not disappoint some hard-core baseball fans. And even though I “knew” the story and the outcome walking into the theater, it certainly didn’t affect my ability to enjoy it and anticipate what might happen next – I was fairly riveted to the storyline … great acting certainly helped!

The General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey (wonderfully played by Harrison Ford) was truly a visionary in his desire to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing a Negro player. Initially he talks about how it is good for winning, which is good to make more money; however, toward the end, he shares a story with Robinson from his past of how he didn’t feel he did enough for a Negro player and really wanted to make it right.

The movie chronicles the selection of Robinson to be “the” one – his signing – and then his move from the Kansas City Monarchs (part of the Negro Leagues) to the spring training camp of the Montreal Royals (a minor league affiliate of the Dodgers’ organization). Jackie’s first hope is to actually make the Montreal team, which he does. Now the movie doesn’t spend any time in Montreal but a friend of mine (who is Canadian) commented that he and his wife were loved there and shared a video with me (see links below). They were not so welcomed in the US where even on the minor league team he was boo’d and cursed for playing “white baseball.”

Of course, Jackie Robinson was called up to the majors and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers (for 10 years). The taunting and prejudice that Robinson received in the minor league system was just the beginning. In the majors, fans, league officials, players, even teammates were against him. Teams threatened to forfeit because they didn’t want to share a field with him. Teammates asked to be traded because they didn’t want to wear the same uniform or share a locker room with him. One of the most painful scenes in the movie is the constant taunting by the Phillies manager, Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) who threw an endless barrage of the N-word at him for every at bat. But humanity did come through as that also prompted teammates to start standing up for Jackie and this was a turning point in the clubhouse relationships.

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My favorite Parts of the Movie “42”

The relationship with Rachel Robinson (Nicole Beharie) – Jackie’s wife – although there could have been more revealed, there was enough to demonstrate that she was loving, loyal, and supportive of Jackie and his desire to play Major League Baseball regardless of the incredible challenges they both faced.

Wonderful scenes at the old ballparks … now I must put those locations on my “must see” ballparks list. Many of the minor league game scenes were shot on location at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL. This ballpark has quite a history of its own and was highly appropriate for this movie. The other location was Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, TN – it received renovations for the movie and was used as the “Ebbets Field.”

I giggled every time there was a scene with Jackie taunting pitchers with the fear of stealing a base, which he did with ease! He just loved getting in their heads and pulling them off their game by worrying about him … and with good reason! Man, I sure would have loved to see him play!

I was also fascinated with the interplay between Jackie and Wendell Smith (Andre Holland). It was obvious he was a writer – likely a sports reporter – but I did not fully understand his role or who he worked for based on the movie. Thus, I had to do a bit of research when I got home. It seems he a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier and was pretty influential in the selection of Jackie Robinson because he covered the Negro Leagues and knew he had the strong character needed to succeed in this difficult role. He was paid by both the Courier and Branch Rickey to assist Jackie and ensure he had a place to sleep and eat in safety – often a challenge during the “Whites Only” days of segregation. I would have liked to have seen this relationship a bit more fully explored in the movie.

Ultimately, it came down to baseball and the objective was to let the play on the field settle any question about who should or should not be playing in the major leagues! That was ultimately proved when Robinson made the game-winning – National League pennant-clinching – home run off of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who previously beamed him in the head (obviously on purpose).  Talk about settling it on the field – now that was perfect – and the look on that pitcher’s face was priceless!

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My Favorite Quotes from the Movie “42”

Jackie Robinson: “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?”  Branch Rickey: “No. I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.”  Jackie Robinson: “You give me a uniform, you give me a number on my back, I’ll give you the guts.”

Leo Durocher: “If Robinson can help us win, then he is gonna play on this ball club!

Reporter: “What you gonna do if one of these pitchers throws for your head?”  Jackie Robinson: “I’ll duck.”

Wendell Smith: “You are not the only one with something at stake here. Why do you think I sit on the 3rd base line with my typewriter in my lap? Negros aren’t allowed in the Press Box.”

Branch Rickey: “The world’s not so simple anymore, I guess it never was. We ignored it, now we can’t.

Ralph Branca: “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42” (… and now they do on Jackie Robinson Day!)

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The Baseball PHD Recommendation

The movie made me laugh … made me cry … made me think. Whether or not you like baseball, you should see this movie because it is part of history and the more we know the less likely we are to repeat mistakes. But if you love baseball, you HAVE to see this movie because it will give you a glimpse at history and a truly American Hero – and darn good baseball player!

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Just the Facts

“42” runs 128 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language.

Brian Helgeland – Director/Screenwriter

Thomas Tull – Producer

Dick Cook,  Josh Jashni, &  Jason Clark – Executive Producers

Cast

  • Harrison Ford – as Branch Rickey
  • Chadwick Boseman – as Jackie Robinson
  • Nicole Beharie – as Rachel Robinson
  • Christopher Meloni – as Leo Durocher
  • Andre Holland – as Wendell Smith
  • Lucas Black – as Pee Wee Reese
  • Hamish Linklater – as Ralph Branca

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Links to Additional Information

Rickwood Field

Engle Stadium  Engle Foundation

Official Movie Site

Movie Trailer #1

Movie Trailer #2

Montreal Debut

The Jackie Robinson Foundation

Ready for Opening Day from Head to Toe

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Opening Day!

FINALLY! I think the San Diego Padres have the last possible Home Opener for the 2013 MLB Season. I know how ready I am for my team to be home and I can only imagine how ready the team is! They left for Spring Training in late February – traveled to San Antonio to play the Rangers in the Alamodome Mar 30-31. The Padres then flew to New York to play the Mets for their home opener Apr 1-4. Next they flew to Colorado to play the Rockies in their home opener Apr 5-7. Whew! It has been a rough opening thus far (1W/5L) and I’m extremely hopeful that being HOME is exactly what we need to change that around.

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My tickets are in hand.

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My backpack is packed.

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My Padres hat is loaded with pins but with room for an Opening Day 2013 pin to be added.

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My toes got a pedi in Padres blue and decorated with baseball stitches.

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Of course, my HEART is always with MY Padres I look forward to cheering them onward all season!

Play Ball!!

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My Season Tickets are Here!

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For some reason, UPS made this an extra-long wait and sent my tickets on quite a vacation before arriving on my doorstep. I received the notice on Mar 28 that they had been shipped and started tracking their progress. Now I’ve worked in distribution and logistics in my past – and I understand the concept of hubs and how that may cause items to seemingly go further away before coming back to the final destination – but this was just crazy!  Honolulu? Really? Maybe I should start traveling with the season tickets :-)

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Nevertheless – they finally arrived! I don’t know about you but I am like a kid on Christmas morning when my box arrives with my baseball season tickets.  Sure, I could access them online.  Absolutely, I already know who we will be playing and when – it’s already in my Outlook calendar. But there is something special about holding them in your hand … finding out the design … seeing which players are featured. And you never know what else might be in the box. Woo hoo!

Here is the box … isn’t it beautiful! Love the gold embossed SD Padres logo. The 4-color photos that line each side are a nice touch this year.

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Not only are the tickets inside but also the brand new “Membership” cards. Your game package determines whether you are Black, Platinum, Gold, or Blue … I have a full season in Toyota Terrace and that makes me “Platinum.” We were then able to select from Family, Business, Social, or Fanatic … I selected Fanatic … shocking, I know! Each level of membership comes with added benefits and special activities. If you want to get season tickets, I highly recommend Hayley Hallam – she always hits a homerun with her customer service!!

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Featured on this year’s tickets:

The Skipper, Buddy Black

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#20 – Bud Black

Yonder Alonso, Chase Headley, and Mark Kotsay

#23 - Yonder Alonso, #7 - Chase Headley, #14 - Mark Kotsay

#23 – Yonder Alonso, #7 – Chase Headley, #14 – Mark Kotsay

Chris Denorfia, Carlos Quentin, and Cameron Maybin

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#13 – Chris Denorfia, #18 – Carlos Quentin, #24 – Cameron Maybin

Huston Street, Clayton Richard, and Edison Volquez

#16 - Houston Street, #33 - Clayton Richard, #37 - Edison Volquez

#16 – Houston Street, #33 – Clayton Richard, #37 – Edison Volquez

The Padres as remind us that they are a Team for the Military!

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81 home games to look forward to! In addition to our NL West Division rivals and playing the NL teams, we will have interleague play with Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles, and for the first time at Petco Park – the Yankees.

April = 12 home games with 4 teams

April = 12 home games with 4 teams

May = 16 home games with 6 teams

May = 16 home games with 6 teams

June = 15 home games with 5 teams

June = 15 home games with 5 teams

July = 10 home games with 3 teams

July = 10 home games with 3 teams

Aug = 15 home games with 5 teams, including a first-time visit by Yankees

Aug = 15 home games with 5 teams, including a first-time visit by Yankees

Sep = 13 home games with 4 teams (all NL West)

Sep = 13 home games with 4 teams (all NL West)

redbar1 Looking forward to a great year of baseball!

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MLB Spring Training 2013 – It’s a Wrap!

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Eleven MLB Teams!

Saw 11 teams play in 7 different games.

11 Teams

Ten Days in Arizona!

Can’t say the weather was great. So spoiled with the typically sunny and warm Spring Training weather in Phoenix but this year it was very chilly the first week (low 40s for morning practices and 60 at game time) and rainy the second week (including a top-of-the 4th rainout). Nevertheless, it was still baseball!

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Nine Innings of Baseball!

Honestly – was having trouble coming up with a “9” and this was suggested. It is appropriate since Spring Training games don’t go into extra innings. Overall, I truly saw 75 innings, if you include the World Baseball Classic.

Eight Nights in Hotels!

I’m never sure why people find this great … I would rather be home, in my own bed. But I have no complaints. My longest stay was 5 nights at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Mesa, AZ … it is very close to the AZ101 and to the ballparks on the East side. On our return trip, we stopped in Yuma, AZ and stayed at our usual Oak Tree Inn. Once we arrived in Peoria, AZ, it was back to the Ramada Inn in Peoria … our 3rd stay there. None of these hotels are five star but they are family-friendly, reasonably priced, clean, and conveniently located.

Seven Spring Training Games!

  • 2/25 – White Sox at Giants
  • 2/26 – Diamondbacks at Angels
  • 2/27 – Giants at Angels
  • 2/28 – Athletics at Cubs
  • 3/01 – Brewers at Rockies
  • 3/08 – Athletics at Mariners
  • 3/09 – Rangers at Padres

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Six New Baseballs!

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Five Spring Training Ballparks!

Be sure to read the blogs on each of these ballparks.

Scottsdale Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Hohokam Park, Salt River Fields, and Peoria Sports Complex

Scottsdale Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Hohokam Park, Salt River Fields, and Peoria Sports Complex

4 Media Credentials!

A huge thank you to the following teams for your hospitality:

  • Giants – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
  • Rockies – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
  • Angels – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access … was able to interview Manager, Mike Scioscia
  • Padres – was able to interview, Manager, Bud Black
Thank you to the Giants, Angels, Rockies, and Padres!

Thank you to the Giants, Angels, Rockies, and Padres!

3 Great Travel Companions!

This was our sixth consecutive year to make the trek to Arizona for Spring Training … it is amazing how much the boys have grown in that time.

With Trevor Herman, Wayne McBrayer, and Alex McBrayer

With Trevor Herman, Wayne McBrayer, and Alex McBrayer

2 World Baseball Classic Games!

We loved the WBC when it was in San Diego in 2009 and were happy to have the opportunity to catch some games in conjunction with Spring Training. We saw USA play Italy on 3/08 and then USA play Canada on 3/10. TheBaseballPHD even got a few tweets on the jumbotron :-)

2013 World Baseball Class

2013 World Baseball Classic

1 More Year of Terrific Memories!

It was another wonderful year at Spring Training and I look forward to 2014 … but first, it’s time for the regular season! Play Ball!!

Tom Siedler, Randy Jones, Josh Byrnes, Clayton Richard, and Anthony Bass with Trevor Herman, Alex McBrayer, and The Baseball PHD

Tom Siedler, Randy Jones, Josh Byrnes, Clayton Richard, and Anthony Bass with Trevor Herman, Alex McBrayer, and The Baseball PHD

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Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Salt River Fields at sunrise

Salt River Fields at Sunrise

Destination

East of Scottsdale, Arizona, on the land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, sits a beautiful 140-acre complex named Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – the first MLB park to be built on Native American land.  The complex is the Spring Training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Salt River is currently the newest MLB Spring Training facility and replaced the Tucson Electric Park for the Diamondbacks and Hi Corbett Field for the Rockies.

Salt River Fields - Spring Training Home of the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks

Salt River Fields – Spring Training Home of the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks

Each team has an 85,000-square-foot clubhouse (with offices, fitness, and locker rooms), six full-size practice fields (one with the same dimensions as the respective team’s home stadium), two infield only practice diamonds, and 10 covered batting cages. The Diamondbacks occupy the facilities along the left field and the Rockies are in the right field area. I must say, I conducted interviews in the Rockies’ Clubhouse (no photography allowed) and it was magnificent … open space, spacious lockers, leather seating areas, flat screen TVs, computers, granite bars … five star all the way!

Early Morning Field Preparation

Early Morning Field Preparation

The stadium was positioned to face northeast to maximize shade within the grandstand. With 7,000 chair back seats and 4,000 berm seating (the largest of all the facilities), the stadium lists 11,000 as capacity; however, the latest attendance record was established on March 24, 2013 with 12,864 – obviously, fans utilized extensive berm and standing room only to squeeze in! Luckily, there are over 3,000 parking spaces as well.

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History

Grand Opening was February 11, 2011 and the first game was the Diamondbacks and Rockies on February 26, 2011. The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Tribal President Diane Enos and Vice President Martin Harvier. The National Anthem was performed by Salt River Elementary School choir. The Rockies won the first game 8-7 after 10 innings of play.

Two Tribes, Two Teams, One Home

Two Tribes, Two Teams, One Home

The name Salt River Fields at Talking Stick defines the location and culture of the facility.

  • “Salt River Fields” represents the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
  • “Fields” refers to the 12 practice fields located within the facility and also the Community’s rich agricultural history.
  • “Talking Stick” is an historical reference to the traditional Pima calendar stick on which carvers recorded historical events and milestones

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A local Pima artist and calendar stick carver, Royce Manuel, designed the concept for the logo.  It brings together the Diamondbacks’ rattlesnake with the Rockies’ mountain range. Great that it also emphasizes the local mountain ranges as well as the rattlesnake in Southwestern Native American culture. A Dallas-based design firm, FocusEGd, refined the design into a graphic image.

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People

The fans have been packing the stadium for both teams since the stadium opened in 2011. The beautiful facility, lovely mountain backdrop, and two MLB teams makes it a great destination for Spring Training fans. And if you go to Salt River Fields, you will have many options to suit your palette.  From Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar to 101 Cattle Company’s angus burgers; Cold Stone Creamery to chocolate covered bananas & strawberries on a stick (berry kabobs); numerous wieners abound at the Home Plate Hot Dogs and, of course, the Salty Senorita taco bar and Del Rios southwestern cuisine. If you are more health conscious, never fear! There are specialty wraps, salads of the day, sweet potato fries, Island Noodle, and several gluten free choices.

Fans Enjoying a Brewers at Rockies Game

Fans Enjoying a Brewers at Rockies Game

Notes – As noted earlier, the practice fields are extensive. The Rockies’ half is known as the “Mountain” side … park in the Mountain Parking lot on the south side of the complex. The fields are named: Duststorm, Red Mountain, Adobe, Wild Horse, Red Clay, and Cottonwood. The Diamondbacks use the “Desert” side of the complex … park in the Desert Parking lot on the north side of the complex. Those fields are named: Whirlwind, Jackrabbit, Quail, Ramada, Devil’s Claw, and Mesquite.  Parking is complimentary on non-game days but there is a $5 charge on game day, regardless of whether or not you actually attend the game. Of course, if you are attending the game, the gates open 2 hours and 10 minutes before first pitch and you will usually find the home team taking batting practice in the stadium.

View of Batting Practice from the Rockies' Dugout

View of Batting Practice from the Rockies’ Dugout

When planning your Spring Training visit – be sure to include Salt River Fields at Talking Stick!

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The Baseball PHD visited Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Friday, Mar 01, 2013 … The Rockies hosted the Brewers and the home team was victorious with a 5-2 score and 7,443 fans in attendance.

Ballpark address:
7555 N. Pima Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Peoria Sports Complex – 20th Anniversary!

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Photo from center of On Deck, Volume 4

DestinationPeoria, Arizona, location of the Peoria Sports Complex - the Spring Training home for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. The complex is owned by the City of Peoria and sits on 145 acres near Bell Road and AZ101. The stadium seats 11,333, has 12 practice fields, 2 team clubhouses, and 1 visitor’s clubhouse.  Attendance for Spring Training has averaged about 230,000 and another 300,000 fill the complex for other events throughout the year including Arizona Summer League, Arizona Instructional League baseball, Arizona Fall League, and the Arizona Baseball Academy to name a few.

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Peoria Sports Complex – Spring Training Home of the Mariners & Padres

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HistoryIn 1993, the City of Peoria finalized a two-year negotiation between the Mariners and Padres to begin construction on the Peoria Sports Complex. It was the first Spring Training facility in MLB to be shared by two teams and has since served as a model for others. Construction was completed and the first Spring Training games were played there in 1994, March 2 – Padres vs. Mariners. Each team signed a 20 year lease initially and negotiated a lease renewal through 2033. As a part of the renewal agreement, extensive renovations will take place to both clubhouses as well as the stadium. Both teams use the complex year round for player development.

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PeopleOf course, Spring Training also means an opportunity for fans to get up close to Major League players and those who will be stars in the future. Saying hello – getting a hat or a ball signed – having one of the players recognize you from before – it’s all part of what makes Spring Training fantacular! Some of the newer facilities have been built to keep fans at a distance and I truly believe that is a mistake because this is a time to be part of the experience. But that is certai0nly not the case with the Peoria Sports Complex … it is truly one of the most fan-friendly ballparks in the Cactus League system. In addition to filling your autograph book you should plan to fill your stomach as well! The food selections are outstanding … tri tip, shrimp or fish tacos, freshly grilled teriyaki bowls, Greek Gyros, BBQ, special kids meals, and much more.

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At Peoria, fans enjoy relaxing on the berm and tasting a wide variety of foods

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Notes – I love my team and I would go to Peoria every year to see them regardless; however, I have been to every ballpark in the Cactus League and this particular complex remains my favorite because of the overall atmosphere and experience. When you leave the complex you have more food choices than you can handle … from fast food to complete dining … and there is a shopping mall across the street as well in case there is something you need to buy. With an AL and NL team calling Peoria home, you are sure to find a match up that you want to see – and why not see it at the most fan-friendly ballpark – that’s what Spring Training is all about!

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San Diego Padres at an early morning Spring Training practice

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The Baseball PHD has been visiting the Peoria Sports Complex since 2008. This year she visited on two consecutive days:

  • Friday, Mar 8, 2013 – Athletics @ Mariners:  A’s 12, Mariners 1 – game called in the top of the 4th due to rain
  • Saturday, Mar 9, 2013 – Rangers @ Padres: Rangers 5, Padres 2 with 3,489 in attendance
Ballpark address:
16101 North 83rd Avenue
Peoria, AZ 85382
 
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Hohokam Stadium

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DestinationMesa, Arizona, 10 miles east of Phoenix and location of the Hohokam Stadium (also known as Dwight W. Patterson Field) is the Spring Training home for the Chicago Cubs. Mesa has hosted the Cubs since 1952 and Hohokam Stadium, which opened in 1997, also serves as the home for the Mesa Solar Sox team of the Arizona Fall League. There is a supplemental training facility about a half-mile away – Fitch Park – that includes four practice fields and a practice infield. Extensive seating and a large berm area provides a capacity of 13,074 and they sell out quite frequently! The berm area is spacious and with many more amenities than other stadiums.  For a view of the Superstition Mountains, be sure to sit in the 200-level sections (third base side).

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HistoryThe stadium is named after the Mesa HoHoKams, an influential local civic organization that has been the booster of Spring Training baseball in Mesa since 1951. However, the origin of the name actually dates back to the Hohokam Indians who occupied that area until the mid-1400’s. Mesa boasts over 90 years of baseball beginning in 1921 with Rendezvous Park. Spring Training arrived in Mesa in 1950 with a minor league team and then the Cubs in 1952.

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PeopleWhat is it about Cubs fans? Regardless of the venue, regardless of the record, they are out in full force and supporting their team vigorously. It must be something in the agony of defeat that pulls together a culture that remains loyal in that long-time quest for a championship.  The Chicago Cubs (notably, their fans!), have set many Spring Training attendance records … 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009 major league record culminating with 203,105 in 2009 through 19 home games. The newer Salt River Fields has recently broken the record.

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Notes – Although all indications were that you could not enter the ballpark for BP, I arrived just after 10:00 AM and was told it was open. Sure enough, the Cubs were taking BP – there was hardly anyone in the stadium and it was great to have easy access to all parts of the stadium except the berm area – it remained closed until the end of BP. Similar to many Spring Training facilities, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation ensured there were several retired MLB players available to sign autographs for charity. In that same area, behind the left field line bleachers, there was a trailer serving Iowa breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches – had to have one – glad I did!

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Point of Interest – This is the last year to see the Chicago Cubs call Hohokam their Spring Training home. Their new Spring Training facility is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in December 2013. It will be 3.3 miles west of Hohokam Park at the crossroads of the AZ101 and AZ202 loops. I look forward to visiting it after it is opened.

The Athletics are Coming! The following statement was posted March 5, 2013 on the Athletic’s Facebook page:

The Oakland Athletics and the City of Mesa have reached a 20-year agreement for the team to train in the East Valley city, beginning in February 2015. The A’s, who also hold two five-year options that could extend the contract to 30 years, will conduct workouts at Fitch Park and play their Spring Training games at Hohokam Stadium, the current home of the Chicago Cubs. Fitch Park and Hohokam Stadium are scheduled to undergo $20 million in renovations next year.

As you can see, Hohokam Stadium provides everything you need to enjoy a baseball game and I encourage you to put this destination on your list!

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The Baseball PHD visited Hohokam Stadium on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 … The Cubs hosted the Athletics and the home team was victorious with a 5-3 score and 4,037 fans in attendance.

Ballpark address:
1235 North Center Street
Mesa, AZ   85201
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