Category Archives: arizona

Ballparks in Arizona.

Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona


This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at See you on the other side!


Sloan Park, Mesa, ARIZONA
Number of states: still 34
Number to go: 16
First game: October 16, 2015 (Surprise Saguaros 20, Mesa Solar Sox 6)

Sloan Park was the most single-team-focused of the three ballparks I visited on my 2015 Arizona Fall League trip. And I knew that Cubs’ spring training was a big deal…but man, I was surprised by just how big. Sloan Park is located adjacent to an absolutely massive hotel that appears to have been constructed with Cubs’ spring training visitors in mind. It appeared to have about ten million rooms, and I would imagine that it’s packed every March, but perhaps a little lonely the rest of the year. It sure didn’t seem to be packed with Arizona Fall League visitors like my friends and I, but then, only a handful were even in the ballpark.

That ballpark was entirely Cubs-centric, and I have to say that I find that to be an annoyance. Given that my number-one goal in a ballpark is local flavor, it feels strange when the local flavor is that from a couple thousand miles away. That said, the ballpark does well in accomplishing the goal of making Cub fan travelers feel as though they are at Wrigley rather than in Arizona. I appreciated the huge mock-up of the Wrigley sign at Addison and Clark. I also liked the supplemental scoreboard at the edge of the concourse: not necessary like at the real Wrigley, but a cool diversion. That said, that would feel effective for Spring Training, I suppose, but for the rest of the year, whether t

he Arizona Fall, Winter, or Summer leagues, it 

feels a bit too far-away focused.

The game itself was a pretty crazy one. Balls flew out of the yard like crazy, and the game featured more hits than any minor league game I had ever experienced.  Crazy and crooked numbers were covering the scoreboard, and the game kept going on…when…

I got a text from my friend Brian. The game a few miles away in Glendale was stopped and cancelled because of a dust storm, and the dust storm seemed to be headed our way.

Oh, dear.

The sky was, indeed, split in two quadrants: dirty and 

clean. A massive batch of desert sand was high in the air. My efforts to photograph it completely failed, I am afraid: it was 

too dark to capture with any real justice. But it was intense. A few players stood with cloth filtering their mouths. Planes overhead were diverted from Sky Harbor airport and looking to stay in the air long 

enough to wait out the storm. Matt, Rob and I decided to stick it out and see if we could get the game in, but the game (long since decided) wasn’t nearly as exciting as the sky.

So it turned into an interesting evening that showcased some of the most intense experiences Arizona has to offer–and a couple of ballplayers hitting the ball all over the desert.


Regional feel: 6.5/10


The stadium wanted me to think I was in Chicago. The sandstorm refused to play along.

Charm: 3/5
Sure, it was charming, but the charm was aimed in the wrong direction.

Spectacle: 4.5/5
Perfect for the Arizona Fall League (which is to say no spectacle beyond the sandstorm)

Team mascot/name: 4/5
No mascot, which is great (see “Spectacle” above). “Solar Sox” works pretty well as a name.

Aesthetics: 3.5/5

Pavilion area: 3.5/5
A little far back from the field: there are spots where it’s tough to see the field.

Scoreability: 3.5/5
I don’t remember any problems.

Fans: 3/5
Not too many people there.

Intangibles 5/5:
Loved the power of the desert!

TOTAL 38.5/50

Baseball Stuff I’ve Seen There:

Jeimer Candelario was the star, with two home runs and three doubles…and he was for the losing team!

Four hits for Ramon Torres and a pair of dingers by Bubba Starling led the way for Surprise.

26 runs on 36 hits and 13 walks.

Written April 2018.


Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale, ARIZONA


This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at See you on the other side!



Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale, ARIZONA
Number of states:  still 34
Number to go:  still 16
First game:  October 15, 2015 (Surprise Saguaros 3, Mesa Solar Sox 0)

Matt, Rob and I got into Salt River Fields for the second half of a day-night, two-stadium doubleheader, and we got there as a result of the good offices of Brian Moore.  Brian is, quite simply, the most hard-core baseball park guy I have ever known.  I met him originally at a game in Everett sometime around 2003, when he was running out of US ballparks to attend.

 Let me say that again: he was running out of US ballparks to attend.  At the risk of telling Brian’s stories for him, he got hooked up with the international baseball community as a scorer, and has switched his ballpark travels to focus on the international: he has now attended baseball games in more countries than I have set foot in. Why he doesn’t have a ballpark telling his stories of global baseball travels is beyond me, and I am jealous of his travels.

Anyhoo, Brian, a San Diegan, got us hooked up with tickets to this game, and I got to talk to him and his dad for a while. He, like me, is attracted to the low-frills quality of the league which I had discovered earlier that day in Scottsdale.  So we got to settle in for a gorgeous desert night of baseball.

Unlike the aforementioned Scottsdale, Talking Stick is a recently created palace for Spring Training and pretty shiny and glitzy. The Rockies and Diamondbacks share the facility, and it’s easy to see the appeal: tons of up-to-date facilities

surround the ballpark, and one can look over at them as one circumnavigates the field.  The lovely grass berms in the outfield are broken up by a few locally-appropriate bits of cactus. I was most impressed by the honoring of Arizona Fall League graduates who had played there and elsewhere: it’s exciting to take a look at the as-yet-anonymous-to-me ballplayers on the field and wonder who might be the next Michael Young or Darin Erstad.  Again, cross-apply my entire love letter to the Arizona Fall League I gave in my Scottsdale review.  It was all about the baseball, no more, no less.  And I really was into that.

So this ballpark might actually score a tad lower on the score than Scottsdale, just because the newness and glitziness (to my mind anyway) comes at the expense of charm.  And, because of the primary purpose of this place (Spring Training games), it’s also a little big to my tastes.  I’ve never been to a Spring Training game, and while I might enjoy it, it’s not that appealing to me.  Too many dudes to keep track of, too many fans, too

much money (or so I am reading).  So, while impossible, I might prefer the ballpark house only half of the people in it.

For whatever it is worth, we did return for something they called the Bowman Hitting Challenge, won by an affable Miami Marlin project named Austin Dean. For what it’s worth, the number one appeal of the league–which is that they don’t really have any interest in fan experience, they just want to play ball–became a weakness for a made-for-fan event like the Hitting Challenge.  I missed out on some autograph opportunities because of some disorganization, lack of time, and generalized lack of interest.  The contest itself had some low-tech appeal (a batter could get points for smacking a guy running around the outfield with an advertising sign, for instance), but when it rained, we decided it wasn’t worth waiting out the delay and headed for pizza and drinks instead.

In any event, this place was modern, beautiful, and antiseptic.  And that didn’t matter much to me because it was the Arizona Fall League.


Regional feel: 6/10

A little like the lobby of a chain hotel: nice, but where are we?  It’s a creation rather than embedded within its environment.

Charm: 2.5/5
See above. Too perfect and cutting-edge to be charming.

Spectacle: 4/5
Perfect for the Arizona Fall League (which is to say no spectacle)

Team mascot/name: 3.5/5
No mascot, which is great (see “Spectacle” above).  I am of mixed feelings on “Saguaros” as a name.  Locally appropriate, kinda majestic, but not really intimidating.  I’ll go above average.

Aesthetics: 4/5

Pavilion area: 4/5
They got this right: it’s easy to see the field from all parts of the concourse.

Scoreability: 3.5/5
I don’t remember any problems.

Fans: 4/5
Thanks, Brian.

Intangibles 5/5:
I think all Arizona Fall League parks will get the max score here.

TOTAL 36.5/50

Baseball Stuff I’ve Seen There:

Cardinal-to-be Alex Reyes gets a plurality of the outs in a 5-hit shutout.

Written July 2016.

Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Arizona


This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at See you on the other side!



Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, ARIZONA

Number of games: 1
Number of states: 34
States to go:  16
First game: August 16, 2014 (Scottsdale Scorpions 9, Glendale Desert Dogs 2)

I flew down to Phoenix for a second-annual of what I hope will be a long-term event–a baseball gathering with college buddies Matt and Rob.  We had a house to stay in by ourselves (yay, friends of Rob) and a long weekend to play word games and BS together.  But it started a tad late.

See, my flight arrived just a tad before the first pitch of an afternoon game at Scottsdale Stadium.  Which meant we had to zip down there quickly.  Which meant I missed the first few innings.  Which meant I was in a bit of a hurry and forgot to take my camera into the ballpark.

“That’s okay,” I thought.  “I’ll just use my cell phone.”

And I did.  Took photos all over the park.

I have no idea what happened to them, other than the one above.

But it doesn’t matter. I will create such a magnificent image with my wondrous poetic flair that you won’t notice the lack of photos.

The ballpark was pretty old-school.  The Internet tells me it was built in 1992 and renovated in 2006, but it seems many Arizona Spring Training sites have been created in the years since.  And I liked the old-schoolness of it.  I was worried I’d find too much of what I dislike about the Florida State League in there: too much emphasis on the parent club Giants and not enough on Arizona local flavor. I didn’t get that feeling much at all.  The ballpark celebrated many who have gone through there, Giants and otherwise, and had some excellent points on the wall.  The faux sandstone feel on the exterior fit right in with the local world, and while the place seated a ton, it still felt just about right for what I was up to.

What I was up to that afternoon was falling in love with the Arizona Fall League.  I experienced what flat-out has to be the purest, best baseball experience I’ve ever been around.  It was splendid.

First of all, it’s critical to point out that the teams do absolutely nothing to engage fan interest. The souvenir cups aren’t for the Arizona Fall League, but for the spring training team. There is one tiny gift shop with hats and shirts and little else.  The distinct impression I got is that they had pretty much zero interest in fan appeal.

Paradoxically, that made me love this league (and therefore this ballpark) as a fan.  I was so into this entire experience.  There were only about 500 fans there, and it was festival seating: only general admission tickets, so sit where you want. (We picked behind a dugout.)  Not a promotion to be found, not between innings or (God forbid) between pitches. MLB is using this league as a way to develop their most promising prospects, and not as a cash cow.  So, while I am certainly not against a few silly promotions, their absence was an incredibly refreshing experience.

It felt like they were putting on a game for me and me alone, and I appreciated that quite a bit.  I could hear the outfielders calling for the ball, hear the chatter from the dugouts: it was everything I wanted.  And I liked that the ballplayers were wearing their parent clubs’ uniforms. It made it easier to follow the narrative of a guy’s career, easier to look up how they are doing. And, ultimately, easier to remember the best players when they made the majors the next season (as many of them did).

The ballpark itself was kinda cool, and its old-school-ness made the Arizona Fall League vivid to me.  This was as good as it gets, and I appreciated the ballpark staying out of the way.




Regional feel: 7/10

Good, local celebrations on the concourse, desert vistas, and faux-sandstone.

Charm: 3/5
Basic and old-school, like an old friend.  Not charming, but warm.

Spectacle: 4/5
Almost none, but that’s kind of the whole schtick.  Hence the high score.

Team mascot/name: 3.5/5
No mascot, which is great (see “Spectacle” above).  I am of mixed feelings on “Saguaros” as a name.  Locally appropriate, kinda majestic, but not really intimidating.  I’ll go above average.

Aesthetics: 3/5
Fine.  Sorta basic.

Pavilion area: 3/5
I’d like to be able to see the field from the pavilion, so there’s that.  But I did like the local museum-y feel out there.

Scoreability: 3.5/5
Did fine here.

Fans: 3/5
Okay.  Fans were marvelously hard-core here, and I like that.  There were few of them.  How do I score that?  If I lived in Phoenix, I’d go to every damn one of these games.  But then again, the low attendance was one of the things I most liked about this experience.  So if I complain about the low attendance, a bunch of people will start showing up, which might ruin the whole experience.  Okay.  I’ll go three out of five and call it good.

Intangibles 5/5:
Great to be with my friends, and I will never forget the revelation that Arizona Fall League ball was.  I simply must return.  Stupid teaching job!

TOTAL 35/50

Baseball Stuff I’ve Seen There:

Scottsdale blows open a tight pitchers’ duel with a 7-run sixth inning, featuring home runs by Mitch Garver (Twins) and Christian Arroyo (Giants).

Tigers’ prospect Montreal Robinson gets the win with 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief.

Written July 2016.


Bank One Ballpark/Chase Field


This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at See you on the other side!


Note: The writing (until the update) is from my original visit to the ballpark in 1999. The photos are from my visit in 2021.

Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix, AZ

Number of games: 1
First game: June 16, 1999 (Diamondbacks 12, Marlins 6)
Most recent game: August 3, 2021 (Diamondbacks 3, Giants 1)

BankOne Ballpark changed its name to Chase Field before the 2006 season.

I have to admit, I was quite excited when my job took me to Phoenix in the summer of 1999…I made it a point to play hooky and get myself to BankOne Ballpark.  The quirky outfield, the pool…I was excited to see this place.  Alas, I was disappointed.

I understand the need to keep the place closed all day–the day I went to the ballpark, the high was 111 Fahrenheit.  The lows

on those days are in the 90s, and even a hard-core fan like me will skip the ballpark and go to a Karaoke bar if given the chance on a night like this.  So I’m not saying they shouldn’t have built the roof (as I feel about Safeco Field).  But the necessity of making the place enclosed means that you can forget any views.

Consider the outfield, for instance.  You can forget looking out at downtown skyscrapers, like you can at Safeco Field, for instance, even when the roof is closed (because the roof isn’t so much a roof as a canopy).  Look beyond the outfield fence

and all there is to see are two huge 12-14 story walls meeting at a right angle beyond center field.  Since there can be no place anywhere in a baseball park not covered by advertising, they’ve put several neon corporate logos on the wall…and that’s all you’re able to look out at if ever your eyes wander.  It’s not as bad in foul territory, where the third deck goes up high–very high, and at a wonderfully steep angle–and that’s what blocks your view of the outside world.  But those walls past centerfield?  Necessary for comfort, but this doesn’t mean I have to like it.

When the roof is closed, the place feels more like an airplane hangar than anything else.  Maybe it’s the square shape…as much as I dislike the Astrodome, Metrodome, and Kingdome, (and don’t get me wrong, the BOB is far better than these), I never felt like they were hangars, I think because they’re round.  But I think that BOB is like the building they build the Space

Shuttles in, only we’ve got tiny little baseball players playing down at the bottom of it, like ants in an abandoned can of Fresca.

They play this hugely majestic music as they open up the roof at game time.  Somehow it doesn’t work for me because the roof is moving almost imperceptibly slowly.  Not nearly as impessive-looking as they want you to think it is.  Also, after they’ve air-conditioned the hell out of the place all day to make it tolerable at night, I’m pretty sure they keep the air-conditioning

running during the game to keep you comfortable…thereby air-conditioning the surrounding neighborhood as well.  I appreciate the effort to keep me cool, but I couldn’t help thinking of the terrible waste of energy this all was.  I wonder what their energy bill for the year is compared to, say, Kauffman or Busch or Dodger Stadium or somewhere else that can be hot, but where people are left to fend for themselves.

I’m likely to go to a few more games here, since my good friend Rob now resides in Tempe.  Maybe it’ll grow on me.

The game?  Not at all memorable.  A good D-backs team beating the snot out of a bad Marlins team.  I went with a co-worker who I had a crush on.  She came along with the following statement: “I don’t want to go, and I’d even pay for the ticket, but I don’t think you should have to go alone.”   Perhaps she could have said this to me before I offered to buy her a ticket.  Worst of all, she read a book during the game.  She could have walked around, she could have compelled me to buy her endless concessions, she could have asked stupid questions all night…but reading a book?  Yuck. I no longer had a crush on her at the end of the game.

UPDATE AUGUST 2021: We didn’t intend to go to a Diamondbacks game in August 2021. In fact, we didn’t intend to be anywhere near 113-degree Phoenix. But when 12-year-old Steven and I headed to Pennsylvania and Ohio for our tandem baseball trip in 2021, our flight from Portland to Phoenix was nearly 6 hours late, and there was no hope of a connection until the next morning. We got a free hotel room and had some time to kill. And the Diamondbacks were at home. So we had an emergency replacement baseball game.

I wasn’t too impressed with the ballpark again, even with my older eyes. My “ants at the bottom of a giant can of Fresca”

tortured metaphor still works, although now I felt like it was just a Costco. The terrible 2021 Diamondbacks, although they snuck out a win tonight (worst record in baseball at that moment beating best record in baseball at that moment), weren’t drawing any kind of crowd, and most of the ones who did show up wore Giants colors. 

I noticed some things I missed the first time around. One was the way the escalators between levels were on the outside of the enclosed structure (and the air conditioning). When Steven and I went to get him his churro dog (look it up: he says it was delicious) for his 5th-inning treat, we stepped outside the enclosed stadium to go down two levels. While we were out, Curt Casali hit a home run. We had no idea: we couldn’t hear the crack of the bat or the crowd. I know that if you leave your seat, you miss what you miss, but in any other stadium, we’d at least hear the sounds of a home run. Not here. The giant windows had been updated, I think: there was some more light. But this was still antiseptic and strange.

On the positive side, Chase Field offers the best nachos I’ve ever had at a ballpark. Check ’em out.


Arizona had a 4-6-3 double play that I wrote in my scorecard thusly:  “Bell-Fox-Lee.”  I challenge anyone to come up with an infield DP combination in baseball history that is fewer than 10 total letters.  I mean, Mark Grudzielanek or Doug Mientkiewicz have that beat all by themselves.

Matt Williams hit a home run.

The D-backs scored 3 separate runs on Marlin wild pitches.  It was that ugly.

In 2021, a Diamondbacks team with the worst record in the majors beat a Giants team with the best record in the majors. Madison Bumgarner pitches 7 strong innings. 

In addition to his home run, Curt Casali allows Arizona runners to advance when he gathers in the ball with his catcher’s mask.

(Written August 2001.  Updated July 2005.)