The late Cactus League President Robert Brinton and Hall of Fame Pitcher Gaylord Perry
History of Museum
The Mesa Historical Museum’s former Director, Lisa Anderson, hatched the concept for Play Ball in early 2008 as an idea for a popular exhibition. It began as a one-room exhibit with just 100 objects. With the support of the late Cactus League President Robert Brinton, Robert Johnson, Tim Sheridan, and several volunteer baseball enthusiasts, the project soon had the political, financial and volunteer support to become a national attraction.
Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry gave early prominence to the project by launching the exhibit with a visit on opening day, and signing autographs for hundreds of fans making a donation to the museum cause. He was followed the first spring by Jimmy Wynn, a slugging outfielder who spent his first seasons of pro baseball training in Apace Junction with the now defunct Houston Colt 45s, and Marty Pattin, a pitcher who was part of the Seattle Pilots roster the only year they trained under that name in Tempe. Chicago Cubs great and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and A’s catching legend Ray Fosse, also made stops at the museum to see the fledgling history project and lend their efforts to early fundraising for the collection.
Support for the project continues to be strong and today, the museum holds the largest collection of spring training memorabilia in the country and has produced more than 30 baseball exhibitions and programs.
The Museum continues to work with partners to fund construction of a new home for the project that will become a national tourist destination.