February 21, 2020
I was “surprised” this morning to discover that the Cactus League opened up today with a game between the Royals and the Rangers. After some time in the Tolleson public library, I headed off to the game and to all kinds of surprises. Surprise #1 - the Rangers and Royals share a spring training facility. I’d never seen that arrangement but apparently that’s a thing in the Cactus League. Surprise #2 - their stadium is named Surprise Park and it is located in, yes, Surprise, Arizona. Surprise #3 came after the game in the parking lot. A fellow approached me saying I was a long way from home (he saw my Virginia tags). He was from Richmond and was there to watch his son pitch for the Royals. Are you ready for Surprise #4? His son is Daniel Lynch who pitched for the Wahoos and was drafted #34 in the MLB draft in 2018. I was impressed that his son pitched in the pro’s; he was impressed by my walkabout. 🤪
It was fun to see all the folks at the game. Lots of different states‘ license plates in the parking lot - clearly folks escaping the cold. Lots of dads with their young sons. Lots of dudes on guys’ trips (they were the ones pounding beers). Also lots of families. And lots of old people - which is a good lead into the story of Surprise, Arizona.
The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much.” It was incorporated into a city in 1960, Tens of thousands of retirees moved to the city in the 1990s and early 2000s to live in Sun City Grand, an age-restricted resort-like community,. Sun City Grand has become a large contributor to the city's population, which more than septupled (7x) from 10,200 to about 75,000 in 2004. City officials estimated the population at over 103,000 as of 2007. [Many of the retirees work at the ballpark and are in no hurry.]
Yes, Flora Mae would be surprised. 🤪
Also saw Jim Harbaugh, the Michigan football coach, walking into the stadium. He is a big dude who needs to do some cardio and Pilates! Here’s Harbaugh on his phone.
Another surprise is how there is no room at any of the campgrounds in the greater Phoenix area. After initially being frustrated by that, I’ve found a home last night and tonight at truck stops off The 10. It is a bit warm sleeping in the back, but that’s not a bad problem to have. I built up a sleep surplus in Charlottesville.
Must say I am not a fan of Phoenix. Sure the weather is nice (although rain tomorrow), but it is so spread out and crowded. You can drive for an hour (or four), and there is just a sameness about it. That’s my biased opinion.
I haven’t ruled out living in a big city, but if I do, I’m going to live iIN the city (not the ‘burbs) where I can walk to where I need to go. I don’t think many people walk here. I concluded today that there is no way places like Phoenix will ever ween themselves of internal combustion engine vehicles. ☹️
Here are some photos from today. And yes, the grass is really that green. 😂
I need to add that being at the game today reminded me of wonderful times going to spring training with Lucian when he was a pre-teen. We never got Jeter’s autograph, but we got a lot of others! Also, baseball players just get bigger and bigger. The players today looked more like football players. And many were wearing high numbers on their uniforms that are more common in football than baseball. 🤪