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Sox Fan Proud!
by Mary Swistara

Spring Training Primer

by Mary Swistara

NOTE: As the 2005 World Series DVD so eloquently put it, “…(The Sox’s) journey to taste that World Series champagne began in Arizona.” And of course, that’s where the 2006 journey to repeat also soon will begin. There’ve been numerous posts on the subject of spring training over the past few months, so I thought it might be helpful to try to put together something that might help Sox fans who are making their first trip out here.

Some Basic Facts

Spring training in Arizona takes place in two regions: Tucson and Phoenix (also known as the “Valley of the Sun,” or just plain “Valley”). Three teams—the Sox, Rockies, and Diamondbacks—train in Tucson. Nine teams—the Angels, Cubs, Royals, Brewers, A’s, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers—train in the Phoenix area. All teams play all other teams at least twice, one home game and one away game.

Games in Tucson are played at one of two stadiums: Hi Corbett Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies and Tucson Electric Park, the home of the Sox and D’Backs. In the Phoenix area, the stadiums are more widely scattered. They can be found in Maryvale (Brewers), Mesa (Cubs), Peoria (Padres, Mariners), Phoenix (A’s), Scottsdale (Giants), Surprise (Royals, Rangers), and Tempe (Angels). Maryvale, Peoria, and Surprise are West Valley cities; Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe are in the East Valley. And Phoenix is in Phoenix. J

Coming to Arizona

The first thing you need to decide is whether you are coming to Tucson or Phoenix. This season, the Sox will play 21 games in Tucson and 9 in the Valley. Where you choose to visit will depend a great deal on which games you will be able to get tickets for. But keep in mind that Tucson and Phoenix are only a couple of hours away from each other, and it’s an easy drive down Interstate 10. Also keep in mind that March is the height of the Arizona tourist season, so make your plans as early as possible. For example, if you wait to rent a car (which you will need) until you get here, your choices will be limited, and you may even have trouble finding one at all. I once had a friend who came out without booking in advance, and he wound up driving around in one of Enterprise’s pickup trucks!

Necessary Equipment and Strange Occurrences

Not for nothing is this known as the Valley of the Sun. Even in March, you should be sure to bring a hat or two, sunglasses, and sunscreen. If you forget any of these, you will end up buying them. You also should expect to suddenly want to drink a lot of water.

And don’t be surprised if you see people walking around with guns in holsters. You only need a gun permit in Arizona if you’re concealing the weapon, believe it or not.

Interesting Places to Visit When You’re Not at the Game

Tucson Area

Nearby:

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned combination museum, zoo, aviary, and botanical garden. It's one of my favorite places to take first time visitors. However, keep in mind it is in the desert, so hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are a must. It's also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes; there's a lot of walking involved. Plan on spending a whole day there, plenty to see.

Desert Museum

Old Tucson Studio is a Western movie set which features Wild West-style entertainment. It has daily shows and restaurants. Among movies that were shot there are the original Gunfight at the OK Corral, Arizona, four John Wayne westerns, and oddly enough, The Bells of St. Mary’s and Lilies of the Field.

Old Tucson

Not so close:

Tombstone

“The Town Too Tough to Die” is located approximately 70 miles southeast of Tucson. Its principal industry is tourism. While there, be sure to visit the OK Corral, site of the historic gunfight (fee). You can also watch a simulated gunfight (fee). On the way out of town, stop by at Boot Hill graveyard and check out the tombstones, many of them quite humorous. You enter Boot Hill through the gift shop; as you leave, pick up some of their fudge. Excellent stuff!

Tombstone

Phoenix Area

Nearby:

The Heard Museum in Phoenix is a private, non-profit museum that is dedicated to educating the public about Native peoples. It houses an extensive collection of Native arts and artifacts.

Heard Museum

South Mountain Park is a great place for hiking, picnicking, or mountain biking. Covering more than 16,000 acres, it is one of the largest municipal parks in the country.

South Mountain

Not so close:

The original capital of the Arizona Territory, Prescott is located approximately 100 miles northwest of Phoenix at the edge of Prescott National Forest. While there, be sure to visit Whiskey Row and the famous Palace Bar, which was frequented by the Earps and Doc Holliday. The original Palace was destroyed in the Whiskey Row fire in 1900, but the patrons carried the bar across the street to the courtyard and saved it. The Palace was rebuilt with the original bar, which is still in place. One thing to note, though; if you do decide to visit Prescott, the temperature will be a bit chillier than it is in the Valley.

Prescott

These are just a few of the places to go and things to do in Arizona during spring training. There are plenty more. The best thing to do, of course, is watch the World Series Champion White Sox play ball! If you do come to Arizona, I hope you enjoy your visit!

Some Additional Useful Links

Visit Tucson

Visit Phoenix

Cactus League

Spring Training Info

Kino Sports Complex (Tucson Electric Park)

American Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Avis

Hertz

Budget

Enterprise


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