The Early Years
March 31, 1914 – Manager J. J. Callahan of the Chicago White Sox discusses the possibility of the Sox moving their spring training to Arizona with reporters of the Arizona Republican newspaper. He is favorable to Arizona but non-committal (the White Sox trained in Paso Robles, California at the time). The White Sox were in the Valley to play the Mesa Gems (the Sox clubbed the Gems 15-3).
1920s – Members of the Chicago White Sox suspended from Major League Baseball after the “Black Sox” scandal are welcome additions to the baseball circuit in Arizona. Arnold “Chick” Gandil as well as Hal Chase (whose role, if any, with the Black Sox scandal was only hinted at) gravitated to Arizona with other banned ballplayers to continue playing the game they loved.
1921 – The first game is played at the Mesa Ball Park by two church league teams. It becomes known as Rendezvous Ballpark and eventually is the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs and later the Oakland Athletics.
1929 – The Detroit Tigers are the first Major League team to officially spring train in Arizona, calling Phoenix’s Riverside Ballpark their spring home that year. The Tigers play just two games in Arizona, losing the first to the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-4) and beating the Chicago Cubs by a run (11-10).
1937 – Tucson’s Randolph Baseball Park receives a major rebuilding and renovation courtesy of the Works Progress Administration (Bisbee’s Warren Ballpark receives the same treatment). In ten years, the Cleveland Indians will move in and four years after that the ballpark is renamed Hi Corbett Field.
1939 – Ted and Alice Sliger open the Buckhorn Baths on the Apache Trail east of Mesa. Within the next decade, their mineral springs attract the attention of numerous celebrities and athletes. The Buckhorn Baths are also an important factor in Horace Stoneham’s decision to move his New York Giants to Phoenix – his team soaks at the baths each spring from the late 1940s to the early 1970s.