In the mid 90s, the Hooks' tried to do Spring Training.
We went to St. Petersburg with grandma and grandpa and mom and dad and brother and got in part of a game. Then it started raining. And the rain turned into a hurricane.
Highlights of the trip included: watching hotel staff throw everything they could find into the pool so it wouldn't blow away, driving in a rental van that had some windows blown out and seeing how far I could walk against the wind without getting blown backwards.
Several years later, it' s a memorable trip. Long story, short? I hadn't been to a Spring Training since then. So when the real job sent me to Phoenix for some business late last week, I had a little free time to take in my first real Spring Training game that didn't involve pending doom.
Seeing as I'm also a tremendous nerd, I took some pictures. So let's take a tour of the spring home of the AZ Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies: Salt River Fields @ Talking Stick.
Here's the entrance to the field. I'm going to warn you right now, this is going to be a PSA for this facility. It was pretty much everything you'd want from a baseball field. Every single thing was thought through.
Home to the Diamondbacks and Rockies, Talking Stick opened in 2011 and until next year, is the newest Spring Training field in the Cactus League.
I'm writing this post in the middle of a snowstorm. They have no such problems in AZ. In fact, they have sunscreen stations at multiple locations in the outfield for pasty white Midwesterners like me.
Three things to note in this pic. 1) Laying in the grass, drinking beer on a 87 degree March day isn't a bad way to spend a Friday. These people seem to agree. 2) Yes, that girl and guy have their shirts off, as did many others. 3) I can't imagine the water bill at this place. That field was immaculate and green.
The view up the 1st base line. The walking concourses were really wide. So even when people stopped to watch some of the game, there never was a bottleneck. I'm thinking that the Busch Stadium designers wish they could re-do the section of restrooms by the Stan Musial entrance where foot traffic is always backed up...
Not bad seats. Yes, Hunter Pence looked crazy from this close too. (Not pitcured)
Guess I didn't realize the business that Spring Training has become. The stadium was packed for a split squad game. I name checked Pence above only because he was the 1 guy I actually recognized.
Heck. Yes. The Whiffle Ball stadium should be a part of every single new ballpark built. Period. Not nearly as nice as the one at Petco Park in San Diego, but still, pretty sweet.
So they had these viewing decks in the outfield. Inside were stores and gift shops, but on top of them, were some pretty awesome views of the field.
And to wrap this up, here's my stab at art. And by that I mean, I didn't see that there was a big stick in front of me, until I took this picture.
If you're headed out from Downtown Phoenix, be warned. Everyone claims that everything is 20-25 minutes from downtown, regardless of how far away it is. This is a good 35-40 minutes away from downtown.