The Cactus League

It’s a little outdated.

Professional baseball had been played in Arizona since the early 1900’s, but they were simply exhibition games as teams were training for their regular season march. That changed in 1946, when Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians, proposed the move to Arizona. The reason, according to Veeck, was that he believed Arizona to be a safer place to bring newly signed Larry Doby (Doby had to stay in a different hotel the year previous while in Florida — typical treatment for blacks at the time, even professional or famous ones), who would later become the first black player in the American League. But before that could happen, Veeck declared that he wouldn’t go there unless the New York Giants came with him. Horace Stoneham, the Giants owner, agreed.

In 1951, the Yankees asked the Giants to switch them Spring Training locations for the year. The reason this is important is because Joe DiMaggio, in his last Spring Training, would hand over the torch to the young Mickey Mantle, in his first Spring Training. The Cubs also came down for a series against the Yankees that off-season, and while there, Arizona officials heavily advertised the area and convinced the Cubs to stay in Arizona the next off-season. Arizona was becoming more viable.

Teams would gradually start coming out to Arizona for the spring, and by the 1970’s, there was a stable number of teams: Angels, Brewers, Cubs, Indians, A’s, Padres, Giants, and Mariners. However, the late 1980’s saw the Spring Training landscape shift. Florida, who had seen the economic power this could be, began swaying teams to come back to Florida. However, Arizona Governor Rose Mofford tackled the big boys from Florida. From 1993 to 1998, ballparks sprung up all over Arizona to keep teams in Arizona while bringing others there as well. Continuing the effort, Arizona officials expect to keep bringing teams and making the Cactus League an important part of Arizona’s economy.

Teams in the Cactus League:
Arizona Diamondbacks
Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Colorado Rockies
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of Southern California of California of the United States of North America of the Western Hemisphere of the Earth of the Solar System of the Milky Way Galaxy of the Universe (Yes, I will continue to bash the name because it’s simply ridiculous, but you have to at least give me credit for typing that all out. No? Okay, fine, but I’m going to do it anyway)
Lois Angeles Dodgers
Milwaukee Brewers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

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2 Responses to “The Cactus League”

  1. The Common Man Says:

    You know, I’ve never thought about why the Cactus League is. I just assumed it was a convenience thing for the West Coast teams. But I can definitely see the benefit of it for teams who were serious about integration and am really interested to see how it fits into the game’s history. I wonder why the Dodgers never moved there. Thanks Mark, good info. And another reason I really need to read Veeck as in Wreck

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Well, the Dodgers started in Brooklyn and had a very good relationship with Florida, and it was closer for fans there. When they switched, it was still a good spot. Now that they’ve been away for awhile, it made more sense to switch this season.

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