It is perhaps fitting that both of Major League Baseball’s Ohio teams train together in Goodyear. That Arizona city’s relationship with the Buckeye State goes back to 1917. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, with headquarters in Akron, Ohio, purchased 16,000 acres in Arizona on which to grow cotton which was in short supply because of WW I. Cotton was used to make rubber tires for airplanes. Goodyear executive Paul Litchfield made the purchase. Before long, a small community made up of mostly Goodyear employees formed. During WW II, the Litchfield Naval Air Facility and the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation located there and brought as many as 7,500 employees to build Dirigibles, or “blimps.” The town of Goodyear was incorporated in 1946. In the 1980’s, the 10,000 remaining acres from the original Goodyear purchase was sold and turned into the Palm Valley Master-Planned Community, located north of the I-10. Now, each spring, Goodyear becomes Ohio West for six weeks when the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds settle in for spring training.
The Indians, of course, were a charter member of the Cactus League when they set up camp in Tucson in 1947. That same year the New York Giants trained in Phoenix. After the 1992 spring season, the Indians bolted for Florida. After 16 years in Winter Haven, FL, the Tribe rejoined the Cactus League last year relocating to Goodyear. In 2010 the Reds joined the Indians in Goodyear after training in Sarasota, FL for the previous 12 years.
Goodyear Ballpark FAQs:
The Indians 16 home schedule started on February 22 against the Reds.
The Reds 17 home schedule started on February 23 against the Indians.
Goodyear Ballpark: 1933 S. Ballpark Way; Goodyear, AZ 85338
Dimensions: LF 345’; CF 410’; RF 345’
Indians in 2012:
Regular Season: 68-94, 4th place, AL Central
Spring Training: 7-22-3
Reds in 2012:
Regular Season: 97-65, N.L. Central Champions
Spring Training: 15-17-1
Tips: The battle of Ohio includes four games at Goodyear Stadium the two clubs meet for the last time this spring on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Look for plenty of green as the Reds usually don some specially colored uniforms and caps that day. The Reds take on the World Series Champion Giants on March 13. They have a night game against the Rockies (7:05 start) on March 15. The Indians play the Angels on March 11. There will likely be a packed house when the Giants come to town for a 7:05 game on March 16. The match-up continues their long running spring training rivalry that dates back to 1932. Fans can bring the kids, come early and leave late in Goodyear. The park has plenty of open grassy areas including a kids-sized baseball diamond.
On March 8, 1947 the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants squared off in the first ever spring training game between two Arizona-based teams. Bob Lemon pitched three scoreless innings as the Indians beat the Giants in Tucson in front of 4,934 baseball fans and the Cactus League was born.