Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The end of an era

, originally uploaded by Dan Lilly.

When I was a kid, my dad took me to Hi Corbett field in Tucson to see my hero, Willie Mays, play. Hi Corbett was the spring training home of The Cleveland Indians. We would go sit in the bleachers on a sunny spring day and watch the games. I took my glove and dreamt of catching a foul ball hit into the stands. My dream came true one day and it was one of the big thrills of my young life.

I don't remember many names but Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Bobby Bonds all came to town with the Giants.

Years later the ugly side of baseball would raise it's head. The Indians left after Phoenix built them a better facility than Tucson was willing to. The "if you build it, he will come" games began. Tucson would make improvements to Hi Corbett and the Colorado Rockies came. Tucson built a second facility and the Chicago White Sox, and The Arizona Diamondbacks came.

But it all ended up to be not good enough. Major League Baseball Teams wanted more. They wanted Tucson to spend more and build more. Teams that spend hundreds of hours traveling each year decided that an hour and a half bus ride from Phoenix was too much for their stars. This year both the Cubs and the Dodgers showed up for games in Tucson with only minor leaguers.

Tucson decided enough was enough so 2010 was the last year for spring training in Tucson. The last of the teams will relocate to Phoenix now and extort cities in that area for new facilities every two or three years. It seems the teams all like that "new car smell".

I will always love to watch baseball and the boy in me will be forever chasing that foul ball in the stands. But when they say it's all about the fans, I'll throw the ball back and call bullshit.

On a smaller scale, baseball holds a special place in my childhood too. Little League. I couldn't play, girls weren't allowed on the teams back then but I can still hear them chanting, "Hey, batter, batter...". Good times, great memories.
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