General Information and Facts
Hohokam and Fitch Parks are the sites for the City of Mesas baseball fields and training facilities, with the centerpiece being Dwight W. Patterson Field at Hohokam Park, the spring training home of the Oakland A's.
Major league baseball first came to Mesa for spring training in 1952, when the Cubs set up camp at Rendezvous Park. That park was razed in 1976, replaced by a new stadium at Hohokam Park. That facility, in turn, was demolished in 1996, and was replaced by a new and enlarged stadium and training facility which opened in February 1997.
The stadium has 7,500 fixed seats and can accommodate an additional 2,500 spectators on the grass berms, includes one practice field and one practice infield.
Hohokam Park is located at 1235 N. Center St., between Brown and McKellips roads in northwest Mesa. Fitch Park is located less than one mile south, at the corner of Center and 6th Streets.
Mesa is located in central Arizona's Valley of the Sun, approximately 10 miles east of Phoenix, and 20 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport. With a population in excess of 450,000 residents, Mesa ranks as the third largest city in Arizona, behind Phoenix and Tucson.
Hohokam Park - Ancient History
Hohokam Park (pronounced HO-HO-COM) takes its name from some of the earliest residents of the Valley of the Sun: the Hohokam Indians, who occupied this region from the year AD 1 until the mid-1400s. The name Hohokam is a derivative from a Pima Indian word for all used up or those who are gone.
The Hohokam were one of the worlds most advanced prehistoric civilizations, and were able to flourish in central Arizona's desert region for more than a thousand years by developing a sophisticated system of irrigation canals, totaling more than 125 miles. These canals were so effective that much of today's canal system follows along the same pattern engineered by the Hohokam centuries before.
Hohokam Park is located just a few blocks east of the Mesa Grande Ruin, at the corner of Date and 10th Street, believed to contain the remnants of one of the key Hohokam temples and gathering structures. This site was purchased by the City of Mesa in the late 1980s for future preservation and study.
The reasons for the sudden disappearance of the Hohokam Indians around 1450 are still subject to debate, although many theories (drought, disease, warfare with neighboring tribes) have been proposed. Many artifacts from the Hohokam civilization, as well as replicas of Hohokam dwellings, are on permanent display at the City of Mesas museum of history, the Arizona Museum of Natural History.
Baseball in Mesa - an abbreviated history
Baseball has been a part of Mesa since the very beginning. In fact, back in 1876, just as Albert Spalding and William Hulbert were organizing the National League, a party of 84 men, women and children gathered in St. George, Utah, to embark on a 49-day journey to the south to establish the first settlement in an area just a half-dozen miles up the road from where the stadium now sits.
The success of local amateur teams like the Mesa Jewels led the community to build their first permanent baseball field in 1921, at the corner of 2nd Street and Sirrine. With the development of the nearby Rendezvous Hall, for social events, and Rendezvous Pool, the ballpark gradually became known as Rendezvous Park.
The Chicago Cubs first expressed interest in training in Mesa as early as 1942, when a contingent of Cubs officials met with City officials to evaluate the ballpark and lodging facilities. But it was not until 1952 that the final decision was made for the Chicago Cubs to use Mesa as their spring training home. Six major league exhibition games were played in Mesa that season, against the Cleveland Indians, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, and crosstown rival Chicago White Sox.
Amenities at the old Rendezvous Park were somewhat less than ideal. The clubhouse was too small to accommodate the players luggage; the trunks were moved outside each morning and returned to the clubhouse at the end of the day. Extra bleachers were rented to accommodate the large number of spectators, and 500 wooden chairs were acquired from Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, to serve as box seats.
Improvements were made to Rendezvous Park over the years, with the Cubs training at the site through 1965. After a three-year absence, spring training returned to Mesa when an agreement was reached with the Oakland As. Mesa was Oakland's spring training site for 10 years, including their three consecutive world championship seasons from 1972 to 1974.
Rendezvous Park finally fell victim to the wrecking ball in November 1976, replaced by the first stadium at Hohokam Park, dedicated in 1977. The As continued training at this new facility until 1979, at which time the Chicago Cubs relocated back to Mesa from Scottsdale. It was during the mid-1980s that the Cubs enjoyed unprecedented attendance, ranking as the Cactus Leagues largest draw, and at or near the top of all major league teams in spring training admissions.
This support from area residents and winter visitors played a large role in the development of the expanded Hohokam Park in 1997. With the addition of outfield berm seating and increase of 1,000 new reserved seats, capacity of the stadium is 12,500.
Mesa Baseball Chronology
|AD 1 thru 1450||The Hohokam Indian civilization dominates central Arizona.|
|1877||The first party of Utah settlers establishes camp in what is now Mesa.|
|1921||Mesas first community ball field, Rendezvous Park, is constructed at what was then the corner of 2nd Street and Sirrine.|
|1950||Professional spring training first comes to Mesa, with the minor league Oakland Oaks.|
|1951||The Mesa HoHoKams civic organization is formed to promote and support spring training baseball in Mesa.|
|1952||The Chicago Cubs bring major league spring training to Mesa.|
|1966||The Cubs relocate spring training operations to southern California, leaving Mesa with no spring season for three years.|
|1969||Major league spring training returns to Mesa with the Oakland As.|
|1972-74||The As bring home three consecutive world championships.|
|1976||Rendezvous Park is demolished, and construction of Hohokam Park begins.|
|1977||The new stadium at Hohokam Park is completed, tying in with Mesas city centennial observation.|
|1979||The Oakland As relocate spring training facilities to Scottsdale, and the Chicago Cubs return to Mesa.|
|1991||The stadium at Hohokam Park is officially named Dwight W. Patterson Field, after the local rancher who played a key role in bringing major league baseball to Mesa.|
|1996||Preparations for a new, expanded facility at Hohokam Park begin, with demolition of the previous park taking place immediately following spring training.|
|1997||The new Dwight Patterson Field, Hohokam Park, and Fitch Park facilities pen for the 1997 major league baseball spring training season.|
|2002||Arizona State University calls Hohokam Park home while Packard Stadium on campus is renovated.|
|2004||Chicago Cubs set major league record for Spring Training attendance with 189,692 fans going through the turnstiles.|
|2005||Cubs extend major league record for Spring Training attendance with 193,993 fans.|
|2007||Cubs set Cactus League single game attendance record of 12,906|
|2009||Cubs set a MLB spring training attendance record of 203,105, with 19 home games played at Hohokam Stadium. Average per game attendance was 10,690 - leading all of MLB. Another spring training record was set with seven games having an attendance of more than 13,000.|
|2013||The Chicago Cubs play their last Spring Training game at Hohokam Stadium, and a 20-year agreement is made with the Oakland A's, who will start playing at the Stadium in spring 2015.|
|2014||Hohokam Stadium will be closed for renovations throughout 2014 in anticipation of the Oakland A's move to the park in 2015.|
|2015||Hohokam Stadium is re-opened to welcome the Oakland A's at the "A Day at the Diamond" event on February 21, 2015.|