Can’t Wait for the Cactus League; U.S. Airways Cactus League special section 2013
Just a couple of days after the 2012 World Series ended, Super Storm Sandy was blowing through the Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood where I live. From the window of my apartment I could hear and see the wind whipping through the back alley behind my building, swirling the branches and bending the trees. While the first vestiges of winter had arrived, even though it was still technically fall, I was already looking forward to the spring and spring training baseball under sunny Arizona skies. Half of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams conduct their pre-season spring training and exhibition games in Arizona’s Cactus League in 10 of the most charming and attractive ballparks in the country, all located within the greater Phoenix Metropolitan region.
One of my ritualistic fall behaviors is cleaning up and putting away the remnants of the previous baseball season; leafing through stacks of old newspapers and re-stacking them chronologically, together with scorecards, magazines, press notes, souvenirs and ticket stubs. I look it all over one more time and reminisce nostalgically on the season past before putting everything in a box.
We had a great baseball season here in Baltimore and reminders of it were strewn all about my apartment. I gathered up all my black and orange Orioles T-shirts and caps and packed them away with the rest of my spring and summer clothes, but while I was packing the stuff away all I could think about was taking it back out in the spring.
Although I have lived in Baltimore for the past 14 years I have continued to make an annual pilgrimage to my former home in Arizona for the spring training season. I discovered Arizona’s Cactus League spring training baseball circuit as a transplanted teenager a short while after my family moved from Long Island, New York to Arizona way back in 1979. During the 20 years that I lived in Arizona I used to think that March was the best month because of the baseball and the weather. I would tell people that March and the Cactus League season made the other 11 months, even the six hot ones, worth it. Now as long as I’m able to make it back each spring, in a way I feel like I’ve never left.