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Arizona’s baseball roots run long and deep, but the star of the show is the Cactus League. Now, a new 127-page book, Cactus League Spring Training (Mesa Historical Museum, $21.99), shines the spotlight on one of the state’s more colorful and enduring pieces of history.
That history is filled with social, political and cultural intrigue, not to mention a roster of baseball greats. Early on, fans saw Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and the American League’s first Black player, Larry Doby. Beyond the field, baseball became part of the state’s social fabric, as players and fans alike flocked to watering holes, hotels, parades and a desert resort famous for its mineral baths. History also saw a political battle to save the Cactus League and fend off Florida’s attempts to dominate spring training. Today, the Cactus League is a 15-team powerhouse that holds court in Arizona each spring.
Arcadia Publishing is the leading local and regional history publisher in the United States.