Former Cactus League Stadiums: Rendezvous Park
Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Our next of several features on former Cactus League spring training facilities, some of which still exist and some do not.
Rendezvous Park, Mesa, AZ
Originally called Depot Park when it opened in 1895 and later Drew Park (1912), Rendezvous Park’s primary purpose when first created was as a family recreation facility for those living in the eastern suburbs of Phoenix. Throughout the years, the park had roller rinks, swimming pools, horseshoes, croquet, picnic areas, and huge grassy fields where eager players picked up the bat and ball and amateur exhibition games elated the crowds. The park remained a recreation facility until the stadium was demolished in 1976 and other buildings started filling in the once popular and beloved indoor and outdoor play area.
When the stadium was first built in the park circa 1930, it had five or so rows of bleachers behind home and along the first base side, trees bordered the outfield (no fence). It was originally outlined as a softball field with a dirt infield and grassy outfield.
Rendezvous Park, Photo Courtesy of Digital Ballparks
In 1942, Chicago Cubs officials met with Mesa officials to evaluate the city’s ballpark and lodging facilities. On Feb 17, 1952 the first Cubs began reporting for spring training in Mesa, AZ. The Cubs played their Cactus League spring training games at Rendezvous Park from 1952 – 1966, after which they moved to southern California.
The Oakland Athletics played their spring training games in Rendezvous Park from 1969 – 1976 and then moved to the brand-new Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, just a mile and a half north, beginning the 1977 season.
Rendezvous Park seated 3,000 when the Cubs moved there in 1952 but expanded soon afterwards. The facility used rented bleachers and “hand-me-down” box seats. The club house cramped the players. It had a bare bones announcers booth and a manual scoreboard in right field with a narrow cat walk and a small awning to block the sun.
Rendezvous Park Expanded, Photo Courtesy of Digital Ballparks
At the time, for many Mesa residents, going to the park meant time bathing in the pools or skating in the roller rinks more than watching or playing baseball. My native-Mesa neighbor, Molly, describes the park as her baby sitter in the summer as her kids went to swimming lessons in the morning and then were able to play in the pool afterwards. It kept them busy till she got home from work in the afternoon.
Others remember “the recreation center where we had city wide jump rope and jacks tournaments.”
And another memory, “As a young boy me and my friends would shag foul baseballs that would bounce into the street during the baseball games at Rendezvous. I also remember playing football on that long strip of grass along Sirren Street. I remember the tennis court and the shuffle board court and the Park and Recreation station area… Those were the days.. This used to be my playground.”
So, more memories on the overall park itself than the stadium. In its place now is the Mesa Convention Center, an Amphitheatre, a Delta Hotel (Marriott brand). The former tennis courts were where the AZ Ballroom in the hotel is now. Constructed in the area in 1981 is a library. The address in Google lists the Convention Center as the former ballpark site but I was told the stadium itself was on Sirrine and 3rd (which at the time was a straight block; not curved like it is now).
Sept, 2020 – Mesa Convention Center with Delta Hotel rising beyond – Not exactly where the stadium was located, certainly the rest of Rendezvous Park was on these grounds
Sept, 2020 – N Centennial Way and MLK Jr Way, a.k.a., Sirrine and 3rd Pl. I am only guessing but based on what I’ve learned, the ballpark would have be on this corner. Behind the bushes is the Amphitheatre now.
If in town to visit the Athletics spring training at Hohokam Stadium, visit the Rendezvous Café just two blocks from where the stadium at Rendezvous Park used to be. This café is named after the park and stadium. The owners used to cater and do the concessions for both ballparks, Hohokam Stadium and Rendezvous Park. Historic photos line one of the walls of the café and Cindy (the owner) has plenty of other photos and stories to share with interested visitors. And, they have a great breakfast and patio for those cooler Arizona mornings.
Rendezvous Cafe, Mesa, AZ