The Cactus League is a training league, that takes place prior to the Major League Baseball regular season. A part of the MLB teams that have agreed to play against each other will play in this league.
There are two major leagues in MLB spring training where the teams are divided into the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League. These two leagues’ teams train in different places, and Cactus League teams spend the spring training in Arizona, while the Grapefruit League teams in Florida.
Spring training precedes the regular season of MLB where the teams can practice before the competition play. The spring training lasts two months from mid February to first week of April, in which people come to see their favorite teams play and get autographs from their favorite players.
Cactus League was founded in 1947 by Bill Veeck who was at that time the owner of the Cleveland Indians. Ever since 1947 the spring training has become tradition.
It was common even before 1947 that the teams would train in different locations around the United States, for example Arizona, Santa Monica, Florida.
Horace Stoneham’s New York Giants and Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians trained for the first time in Arizona. Since then, Arizona became the area that attracted the most teams for the training period. Baseball teams used to go there for the pre-season training.
In 1955 the Cubs took residence in Arizona, and they have trained there ever since, except for one time in 1966 when they preferred to go to Long Beach, California.
Other teams joined in 1961 and 1962 the Cactus League that had a total of 6 teams training in spring. In 1965 though, only the two original teams remained in this league, but it expanded again soon. The league also benefited the expansion of the Major League, counting the Pilots, the San Diego Padres and the A’s to join Cactus League for spring training.
When the Grapefruit League developed, a good competition rose between the two leagues that lead to growth. Also, the expansion of MLB and stadiums also made the spring training leagues develop very much. The league had 12 teams in 2003, and today it boasts 15 teams.
In 1948 Larry Doby, who played for the Indians during the 1947 season, became the first African American to play in the spring training season.
Cleveland was the first Cactus team to win the World series in October 1948.
The Cactus League and its rival, the Grapefruit League both have 15 teams playing in each division.
The Cactus League generates appx. $350 million annually and has appx. 1.5 million attendees to the games.
Chicago Cubs had an average attendees of 14549 in the spring training in 2015, and 13933 fans in 2014.
Pitchers and catchers start training one week earlier than the rest of the players of the teams.
Surprise Stadium in Arizona has a merry-go-round in the right field concourse.
Cactus League teams have abandoned the Tucson area in 2011 when all the games were played in and around Phoenix.
The foul poles at Phoenix Municipal Stadium were originally used at the Polo Grunds.
The Arizona Diamondback fans are just 22 miles away from their in season home, Salt
River Fields, compared previously to 118 miles away Tucson.