Day 1: Saturday March 8, 2003

Tucson, AZ - It was about 10:00 PM when we left Longview for our Spring
Training trip to Arizona - with the goal of arriving by 1:00 PM the
following afternoon for a game at Tucson Electric Park.

One way we tried to shave some time off the trip this year was to "pull
an all-nighter," and though it's not something I'd want to do too often,
it worked out very well for us. Besides, what better time to traverse
the barren wasteland that is West Texas?

The trip was mostly uneventful and comprised of the usual mix of diverse
CDs (from the Texas songwriting talents of Robert Earl Keen to that
"little band from Texas," ZZ Top), computer games (the original Galaga
was a favorite), and all the standard traveling snacks provided by our
wives (Thanks, girls!). Before we knew it, we were well into daybreak
and passing through El Paso.

Time passed quickly and we made the Tucson area just after 1:00 p.m. local
time. We were feeling pretty good, considering none of us had completed
a total of more than two hours of sleep. (Clayton's dad, Buddy Pecot,
offered the services of his Yukon XL and the trip was made in true
luxury.) Upon arrival, we observed that the landscape here offers three
(and only three) prominent features: the cactus, the mountain, and the
horizon, a clear difference from Florida.

We were entirely unprepared for the barrage of people that awaited us at
the park. One estimate said there were 11,000 people there. This is
partly explained by the fact that we were seeing the Diamondbacks, who
play in Phoenix. They were playing host to the San Diego Padres.

The Padres feature left-hander Jesse Orosco, who entered the league
in1979. At 45 years old, he now has 13 teammates who weren't even born
when he made his debut with the Mets that season!

Tucson Electric Park sits just off I-10 in a large hole.
The stands were packed and standing room was scarce
for this afternoon game. We didn't know if we would arrive
in time, so we had decided to wait to buy tickets when
we got there. Unfortunately, the game was sold out.

We made our way to the chain link fence in the outfield
where we played the early 1900's part of little kids peering
into the Polo Grounds from the street. We figured they'd
open the gates eventually and we could just walk in, so
we moved over to the area behind home plate after a
couple of innings. A quick talk with an usher, however,
insured there would be no free entry due to increased

Apparently we must have looked pretty pitiful standing there on the
outside looking in. By the fifth inning, various kind souls had provided
us with extra tickets, and we were in. By this time, the game was out of
hand and the D-backs were thoroughly thumping the Padres, so we acquired
the customary key chains, programs, and t-shirts, watched a few pitches,
and decided we wanted to get out of there before the other 11K folks that
were surrounding us. We strolled around for a while, took a bunch of
pictures, and headed for the car.

We didn't see much baseball on the first day, but we definitely took in
the experience of the ballpark (and the surrounding area), and since the
games don't count anyway, that was OK by us. We made our way to the
hotel - and on the way, a familiar cry emanated from Pecot's seat.
"Look!" he cried, "Perrrrrkins!"

A panoramic shot of Tucson Electric Park, shared spring home of the Diamondbacks and White Sox (above).
The Lizard (right) takes in his first Cactus League game.  Though an old pro to the Grapefruit League, he was as much a rookie in Arizona as were the rest of us, and many of the players.

The White Sox also train here in Tucson. This is their workout facility (below).
A Diamondback is a snake.  So the team has. . . a cat for a mascot?!?!?  At any rate, "Baxter" (right) was there and signing autographs for the kiddos and chasing girls. No wait, that was Big Jake (left) who was chasing the girls. And looking like that, we were shocked no one was interested in talking to him...
Tucson Electric Park's front entrance, where we were originally denied access due to "increased security."  Can you believe they wouldn't let in a group that looked like us?
Maybe if I look really sad they will let us in...
Here's the scoreboard out at the old ballyard. Check out all the mountains - there's one thing we definitely didn't see in Florida the year before!
Welcome to Arizona! It's our first trip to the Cactus League (L to R "Big" Jake Hudgins, "Perkins" Pecot and "The Lizard" - OOB founder Joshua Best, not pictured)
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