Monday, March 9, 2015

My 2015 Spring Training Trip

Just back from a great trip to Phoenix to catch 3 Giants Spring Training games.  My son Nick and I left on Thursday, caught games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday then drove home last night.  It was about a 6 hour trek in each direction and made for a great long weekend trip.  I was thinking of breaking this up into multiple posts but be prepared for one long one.  I am committed to catching up on my trade posts and have lots of other great cards to share as well.

If you have never been to a Spring Training in Arizona, I will try and describe it a bit.  The atmosphere is very mellow, just a lot of people enjoying the sun, a few brewskis and a little baseball.  I have been to a few of the stadiums and they are all pretty small, seating maybe 10,000 or fewer people.  The parks I have been to all have a grassy hill area in the outfield that allows fans to picnic in the outfield.  With the weather in the mid 80s, you see lots of shorts and tank tops (which can be good or bad depending on the wearer).  I hadn't been to Spring Training since the mid-90s and not a whole lot as changed with the exception of much higher ticket prices.

Arizona is the home of 15 teams for the spring and the schedule, when folded out show 14 of them on one side and one on the back (Rangers) along with the schedules.

The first game we went to was in Surprise, AZ at Surprise Stadium.  This stadium is shared by the Rangers and Royals and we saw the Giants take on the Rangers.
 The tickets at Surprise were the more reasonable of the 2 stadiums we visited at $29.

 One thing I really enjoyed was a written white board at each game with the day's lineup.  There were a few starters playing for each team which was pretty cool.

 Speaking of starters, we got to watch Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre warn up right in front of us.  We had seats in the front row right past the Rangers dugout.  Other than a couple of joking comments about being on the wrong side of the field, there was no crazy negative talk between all the fan which was appreciated with my 10 year old decked out in Orange.

 Here is a view from my seat with Petit on the mound, we were in really good foul ball territory but didn't get any hit our way.  I forgot my glove so maybe that wasn't so bad.  I would like to think I could catch it with my bare hands but this way I didn't risk getting booed in front of my kid.
 Wallet card made a couple appearances to show off the view both left and right from my seat.

This ended up being a good game for the boys in Orange.  This is the only scoreboard shot you will see as they lost the other 2 games over the weekend.

 Here was the lineup for my second game on Saturday.  We attended the final 2 games at the home of the Giants - Scottsdale Stadium.  It was a little bigger than Surprise and to me looked more like an old time stadium with lots of brick and a great look and feel.  I was pretty excited about this lineup and it was nice to see Madison Bumgarner pitch a couple innings to Buster Posey.  I am hoping we can do better than Maxwell in left but plug in a replacement for him and sub in Brandon Crawford (who was DHing a couple games due to a sore throwing shoulder) for Adrianza and you have the Giants opening day lineup.

 Here is our view from these seats.  We were in the front row of the bleachers down the first base line.  Being in the front seemed like a good idea but it was somewhat of a pain.  There were people walking by the entire game.  We saw one guy walk by every inning with 4 beers, he was wobbling quite a bit by the end and I am sure at $8-10/beer quite a bit lighter in the wallet.  The only positive with all the traffic was the quality of the talent walking by (if you know what I mean).  I would have to say the talent in Scottsdale, which is known as somewhat of an upper class area of Phoenix, was much higher than in Surprise.  The fact that it was a Saturday and Sunday versus a Friday may have had something to do with it as well.

Wallet card made an appearance here as well, doesn't the green grass look wonderful?  In the distance if you look real closely, you can see grass hill with the picnickers.

 Here is my son in front of the Scottsdale Stadium sign prior to game 3.  If you look closely he is holding Wallet card.  He also noticed that there is room for a 4th World Champion sign in the bottom right corner of the picture.  I like the way he thinks.

 Here is the starting lineup for our 3rd Game.  This was a split squad game with the D-backs and Giants playing each other in both games.

 There was a nice looking World Champion logo painted on the field and protected during warmups.

Here was our view from our Day 3 seats.  We were in the shade which was nice after 2 days in the sun.  We were in nice foul ball territory with 3-4 balls coming close but nothing within reach.

The Giants recent World Series Championships were acknowledged in several places around the park including these nice plaques on the wall in the concourse.

Finally, one of the coolest things about the experience were a couple of retired stars hanging around the park each day signing autographs.  You could purchase balls, 8 X 10's, bats, etc. for a donation to a local charity.  While they weren't Hall of Famers, they were definitely stars from the past.

On Friday at Surprise, Willie Wilson and Bert Campaneris were in attendance.  I clearly remember watching Wilson in the 1980 and 1985 World Series while I am a little too old to remember Campaneris in his prime but remember stories about him playing all 9 positions in a game and helping the A's win 3 straight World Series in the early 70s.  I decided to get a signed ball from each of them and they were both extremely nice and look the time to chat with my son.

At Scottsdale Stadium, there were 3 players set up to sign, Lee Smith, Gary Matthews and Jim "Mudcat" Grant.  Lee Smith wasn't at the table much and I didn't just want to pick up a ball off the table, I was hoping to see him sign it and interact a bit.  Grant isn't someone I remember much of so I decided just to pick up a ball from Matthews.  He signed it The Sarge and 73 NL ROY - very cool! I had to take 2 pictures to capture the inscriptions.

On Day 3, Lee Smith and Mudcat Grant were back and Matthews was replaced by Willie Wilson.  Luckily Smith was hanging around the table and I was able to get an autographed ball from him.  Cool inscriptions with his career save number and jersey number.  I talked with him a bit and told him that in my opinion he deserved to be in the HOF and he thanked me.  When looking at Grant's table I noticed he had authored a book.  I have quite a decent Baseball book collection so I decided to pick up a copy and get is signed.

I am looking forward to reading this book, it looks to be pretty cool with lots of quotes about the players and perhaps some interviews with the players themselves.

If you made it this far I am impressed, it was more to help me remember and capture my thoughts, hope you got something out of the post as well.  I will leave you with my favorite picture from the trip, there is nothing like spending one-on-one time with one of your 3 kids on a baseball focused trip.


  1. Great trip report! Sorry you didn't get to see a "W", is it tough to explain to a 10 year old that the games really don't count? Scottsdale is like the Beverly Hills of the Phoenix area so no doubt about the 'talent' aspect.

  2. Sounds like a good trip! I'll making the drive from central Texas to San Diego to Peoria, AZ to watch some games w/my brother. I've been 2 out of the last 3 years during my school's spring break, and I definitely love the atmosphere there. Cool to be able to meet Grant and Lee (the baseball players, not the generals).

  3. Looks like you had a great trip! Love that you got to spend time with your son! Next time you come out for Spring Training go to the practice fields before the games (9 am - 11 am). It's a pretty cool experience and a great way to get autographs.That Black Aces book looks really cool!

  4. Great post, looks like fun. I hope to make it down to see them some year.

  5. Really nice post! I wish I could get the chance to go to Spring Training games, it's much nicer down there than it is up here in the Northeast!

  6. The hand written lineup boards definitely add a little bit of the minor league feel to spring training games. When I went last year I really loved the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunities to mingle with current and former major leaguers.

  7. Did you get a "Sheboygan Sausage" from the concessions at Surprise Stadium? Yum yum yum.