Friday, April 2, 2010

Hi Corbett: "As Old-School As a Flannel Uniform"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Colorado Rockies fans line up for autographs from their favorite players at the last spring training game in Tucson.
  • ALEX BUDISH
  • Farewell to Hi Corbett, an aging temple of baseball where the players meet the fans.

Jim Caple at ESPN gets it right about Hi Corbett:

Hi Corbett feels more like the way spring training once was, when a team's objective was to get overweight players back in shape after a winter peddling insurance rather than to sell $30 "premium date" tickets, $8.50 beers and $40 souvenir shirts to wealthy fans vacationing from Chicago. Don't get me wrong — spring training still is a wonderful time, and every fan should enjoy its many pleasures at least once (every date is a "premium date" when you're layering on sunscreen while watching a Cactus or Grapefruit League game instead of shoveling snow). But as teams gouge taxpayers to build ever more lavish new "complexes," spring training not only becomes a little more big league; it becomes a little less personable and a little less accessible.

Hi Corbett, however, is as old-school as a flannel uniform. Set amid Tucson's Gene C. Reid Park, the stadium is surrounded by a golf course (the Braves really should have trained here), a zoo (the only one in baseball outside of the bleachers at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park), picnic areas, walking paths, ponds and very public spaces. On a recent Sunday, you could see the Rockies warming up on one field, a dozen or so people performing Tai Chi beneath a small grove of trees a few yards away and a father and son playing catch just behind them.

It was so wonderfully pastoral that Georges Seurat should have painted the scene — "Sunday in the Park with Jorge De La Rosa."

"You don't feel like it's a moneymaking venture here," said former pitcher Roy Smith, who trained at Hi Corbett in the 1980s with Cleveland. "The guys are getting ready. You're close [to players]. It's more like a park over there instead of a complex. The fans can get close. That's why I always liked it. It was like that at Vero Beach [Fla.]. It has some of the aspects of the Vero Beach when the Dodgers were there."

Spring training changed a lot when the Indians left Tucson and MLB started to milk it for every buck. Maybe a crazy new Japanese league is just what we need to bring back some of the magic we've lost.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Jim Nintzel

Staff Pick

Tucson Museum of Art

"Miradas: Ancient Roots in Modern Mexican Art Works from the Bank of America Collection," revealing common artistic… More

@ Tucson Museum of Art Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays, 12-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 28 140 N. Main Ave.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. Party People of the U of A, You've Stepped Up Your Game and We Appreciate That (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Phoenix's Strip Mall Signs Are Going to Ruin Our Dark Skies (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. McSally Ad Demonstrates the Challenge of Fewer vs. Less (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. The Power of Social Media Is Giving Us a Soda Back We Didn't Want (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Streetcar Driver Disciplined for Passing Bicyclist too Closely (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2014 Tucson Weekly | 3725 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation