top of page
  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Former Cactus League Stadiums: Old Phoenix Municipal Stadium


Old Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Photo Courtesy of Baseball Digest


Our next of several features on former Cactus League spring training facilities, some of which still exist and some do not.


Old Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, AZ opened in 1936 and sat near the corner of South Central Ave. and Mohave St.

1959 Phoenix Municipal Stadium Aerial Photo, Photo Courtesy of Oldmapsonline.com


Baseball athletes in assorted local baseball and minor league teams played games there as well as wrestling matches, dog racing and other entertainment. The New York Giants came to town in 1947 for spring training (the year the Cactus League was born). Horace Stoneham of the Giants and Bill Veeck of the Indians were instrumental in bringing the spring game to Arizona.


Before the Giants

During the May 1939 Arizona Cotton Festival (Six Full Days of Frolic and Fun!), the park was the end point of the Cotton Parade. The festival sponsors (cotton companies of the valley) donated then collected the loose cotton used on parade floats in the stadium at the end of the event. The cotton was returned to the mill at the end of the festival. Cotton and its byproducts were once a major cash crop in Arizona.


The Williams Field Fliers and SCU (Service Command Unit) baseball of Fort Huachuca played nine innings at the park. Noted Negro Leaguer Thomas Turner of the Chicago American Giants is on a 1944 roster.


Announcement


Nogales International Aug 30, 1946


A January 31, 1947 Arizona Sun news article states “Face lifting operations on the Municipal Stadium in Phoenix are about completed, and the results closely resemble the transformation of an old witch to a beautiful lady.” The turf was uneven, dugouts were old, the home plate was too close to the grandstand. Fences needed taking down and replaced with new ones, the locker room facilities needed expansion and modernization.


The Giants sent head groundskeeper, Matt Schwab, to supervise the work and make sure the crew put the diamond into proper shape. Horace Stoneham, then president of the New York Giants, expressed pleasure with the results. The Giants reported for spring training Feb 17, 1947. That season, the team drew 23,192 fans over eight games booked.


Stadium Activity

The park was certainly not dormant when the Giants went back home for summer.

  • Barnstorming teams from San Antonio (Arizona Meets Texas! the headlines read). The ‘impregnable’ Thunderbirds, Arizona’s crack team. May 1947 Arizona Sun.

  • The Phoenix Senators/Stars (Arizona Mexican League) and the Pacific Coast League (AAA) Phoenix Giants used the stadium.

  • Records of Fourth of July celebrations and ‘meet the candidate’ events were held at the venue.

  • In April 1949, Antoneo Ponce, pitcher for the Phoenix Senators got married at the ballpark, followed by some entertainment, and then a ballgame. Price of the seats: bleachers 45¢, grandstand 65¢, and boxes $1.25.

  • Baseball parties to promote interest in local baseball and make a little money for the Beth-El’s Hebrew School occurred as early as 1954.

“The City gained control of the stadium in October, 1954 through purchase of the lease from the Phoenix Municipal Stadium Corporation. It assured the New York Giants a permanent spring training site in Phoenix. The Giants signed a five-year contract with the City to return to Phoenix for spring training with an option for an additional five years. Possession of the stadium by the City was necessary to meet the requirements of the contract.” Arizona Sun, February 29, 1957.


The Phoenix Suns, an all-valley professional football team played at Municipal Stadium in the fall of 1957. The city leased the stadium to the team for the season.


The stadium was spruced up the spring of 1957 in anticipation of the returning New York Giants. Concession stands, bleachers and the grandstand seats were repainted. Maintenance staff refurbished the grounds with additional maintenance work completed at the other stadium facilities. It had an appraised value of $135,000 at this time.


The New York Giants played their spring games at Old Phoenix Municipal Stadium from 1947 – 1950, 1952 – 1963. In 1951 they switched sites with the New York Yankees. The Giants played in St. Petersburg, FL. This was a one-year arrangement. In 1957, the MLB Giants team left New York for San Francisco and came back to Phoenix as the San Francisco Giants the spring of 1958. They moved their spring training to the new Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 1964.


Today, truck trailers sit where the entrance, grand stand and infield were once. A Salvation army thrift store, and a water truck sales and parts equipment company sit across the street where the parking lot was.


Where Old Phoenix Municipal Stadium Once Stood, Nov 2020, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

129 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commentaires


Les commentaires ont été désactivés.
bottom of page