RV Travelers at Spring Training Cactus League Baseball
A huge perk of being RV Travelers is getting to attend Spring Training Cactus League Baseball. Being a Seattle Mariners fan since day one, I enjoy the sport. Baseball is my favorite sport of all. I played it when I was a kid. I was a pretty fair hitter and fielder, with a weak and inaccurate throwing arm. Still I loved it. When I got older, I helped coach our boys and others though Little League and Babe Ruth. Yes, I was one of those Dads. One of my sons is a high school baseball coach and one of the grandsons is currently a high school player and my Dad was a coach for many years. So it is a fun family pastime. Staying in the Phoenix area for part of winter allows me to take in the Cactus League Spring Training games and especially at Seattle Mariners park in Peoria AZ.
Spring Training is Exactly That, Training.
Spring Training is exactly that, training. The season starts with about 80 players from all levels crammed in the dugout and the bullpen has at least 20 pitchers. All these players working to make the 25 man roster for the full season. First few games will see players out for two innings, then head off the field back to the practice fields to work on more skills. Later in the month, there will be less and less players on the “big team” and more resuming their roles in the minor league part of the organization. With attendance from 6,000 to 15,000 or so, you get up close to the coaches and players. Getting within 3 feet of Manager Scott Servias who was standing beside the NEXT Hall of Fame Edgar Martinez was fun. Seeing the smiles and grins of Robbie Cano, Leonys Martin, Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager when they are warming up or on deck is great. Grown men, working hard, making lots of money and really enjoying what is basically a kid’s game.
Hall of Famers and Old Time Ball Players
I got to see some of the “old timers” and Hall of Famers, who were selling autographed memorabilia. Rollie Fingers, Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson and several others. My favorite was meeting Bert Campaneris. Oakland and Kansas City, Six time All-Star, 3 time World Series Champion and led the AL in stolen bases six times from 1965 to 1972, plus he retired with the seventh most steals in history (649). He was one of the best all around players ever, and I mean ever, with loads of records and stats. When I shook his hand, it was interesting that he was small for a major leaguer, but his handshake at age 70+ was really strong. He played primarily shortstop, although in one game he played all 9 positions. Only player to ever do that.
We talked a bit about his career and life as a player and I could see the spark in his eye and the fact he still loved the game. I got an autographed baseball for my son, said thanks, and went on my way. Speaking of old-timers, I watched a not so old-timer Seattle Mariners Hitting Coach and great player, Edgar Martinez autographing baseballs and jerseys for the little kids. Quiet and humble, he was fun to see. As the hitting coach, he would talk to a hitter as they came off the field, with a couple of words or a little longer demonstration of a technique. Control of the Zone is the new mantra and it is paying off for the hitters. Yes, EDGAR earned his way to the HALL OF FAME and deserves to be there.
Spring Training Cactus League Stadiums
I have been to three Stadiums in two seasons of Cactus League Action. Seattle Mariners Stadium in Peoria AZ is my favorite. Close to the players, good angles for the action from every seat. Well maintained and of course it is the home town guys. Even an $8.00 outfield grass ticket has it’s perks, because you can sit at one of the chairs that is against the right field fence railing and get a whole different view. 80 degrees and sunny, even at 7:00 pm is perfect. I have seen several games there and enjoyed the players, fans and atmosphere at every one. Lots of rv travelers and snowbirds, plus people who just flew to Arizona for a week of spring training. True fans.
NoniKay’s cousin is a huge Chicago Cubs fan and has been for a lot of years. Cubs tickets are really hard to get this year, even in spring training, because CONGRATS, after 108 years CUBS are World Champions. We managed to procure seats on the right field line at Wrigleyville West Stadium in Mesa. It is a clone stadium of Wrigley Field used for their training. Less seats, more desert and no Ivy, but still. Fun to see all the Cubs fans with World Champion jerseys, hats, etc. Enjoying history, they deserve it. The game was great, some spectacular plays and the Mariners beat the Cubbies by just a hair.
Goodyear Park – A New One For Me This Year
This season I went to Goodyear Baseball Park in Goodyear AZ to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Cincinnati Reds. Goodyear Park has a tunnel under center field where the players enter the field. I didn’t know that until I was wandering around before the game and here come some of the players down the tunnel. I hollered down, “go M’s” and got a wave and a smile. Then here comes Kyle Seager, by himself, carrying his gear bag, wearing shorts and his flip flops. I couldn’t resist, so I hollered down, “hey, it’s Kyle Seager, the best Mariner.” He looked up and smiled and said, “well at least the best Mariner, right here in the tunnel, right now.” I laughed and told him to “smack it hard, since you are the best Mariner.” He laughed and waved and said “thanks.”
My seat for the game was 5 rows from the backstop just to the right of home plate. Closest I have ever been at a big league game. It was like the view of a Little League game. The motion on the pitch, inside corner fastball at 101 mph by Eddie Diaz followed by a straight down cutter, OMG he had them fooled. Plus the close calls of balls and strikes and the crack of the bat was great. Up close to the players and coaches and a view into the M’s dugout. Oh and Kyle Seager, well he smacked one of the hardest line drives I’ve ever seen and he missed a couple and he left a few Runners In Scoring Position too.
The second part of this post is about how Baseball is Kind of Like Life. Crazy plays, bad hops and wild throws, enjoy and thanks. Go Seattle Mariners.
My Gratitudes for Today
- NoniKay and the kids and grandkids.
- Sunny days to play ball.
- Good doctors and ER people, my shoulder is getting better, no throwing baseballs for a few months though.
- Retirement and opportunities to explore and travel.
- Being home in time to see the grandkids enjoy sports.