The Cubs came up short in their final home game at Hohokam Stadium, losing 6-4 to the Seattle Mariners in front of 11,635 in attendance. The total season attendance for the Cubs 2013 final Cactus League spring campaign at Hohokam finished at 145,381, with an average of 8,552 per game. The total attendance for the Cubs 17 spring season’s at the current Hohokam Stadium came to 2,610,736. I believe those numbers do not reflect WBC exhibitions, such as the Cubs played against Team Japan this spring and in 2009.
Those are the numbers, but as you know, numbers don’t mean much in the spring. Batting averages, wins & losses, and ERA’s, all get tossed out the window, when the games start to count come opening day. The fact that the Cubs finished their Cactus League schedule going 16-18-1, will be forgotten on Monday. I’m excited about the season getting underway, as I always am. Most experts and fans don’t expect a lot from the Cubs this year in terms of playoff contention. Then again, those same folks probably didn’t think much of the Baltimore Orioles chances at the start of last season.
While today’s game meant little in the larger baseball season, it meant a lot to the young players who got a chance to get into a spring training game in a Cubs uniform. It meant a great deal to the Mesa Hohokam organization who have been a part of Cubs spring training for the past 62 years. Back then according to legend, Mesa rancher Dwight Patterson made a handshake deal to bring the Cubs to Mesa in 1952 after years of spring training isolated out on Catalina Island. The legend also says the Hohokams put up $3,000 per man (they didn’t tell their wives) in that first spring as a guarantee in case the Cubs didn’t draw enough fans to old Rendezvous Park. Turns out the Cubs attracted fans in AZ from the start, and the wives may never have known of the guarantee.
We had a pre-game ceremony honoring some of the leaders and former leaders of the Hohokam organization, with nine Big Ho’s in attendance. Ann Patterson Schwaderer, Dwight Patterson’s daughter was also on the field today. The Hohokam group has donated countless man-hours over the years as volunteers at Cubs spring training, parking cars, taking tickets, selling programs, and ushering. In turn they have donated over a million dollars to youth sports in the Phoenix area. The Hohokams brought me in as a college kid to help do the public address announcing, for that I will always be grateful. The fact that I’ve been lucky enough to be here every spring since that day is kind of surreal to me.
The Cubs are moving to a new spring facility next year, and it will no doubt be one of the best in baseball. In turn, having such great facilities will help the organization in attracting free agents and signing draftees. The goal is clear, to win a world championship and be competitive on a year in year out basis. We may not see the results this year, but the direction and focus looks steady and on-course. The new spring complex is just a part of the Cubs total makeover.
I have so many memories from Hohokam Stadium and old Hohokam Park before that, so many in fact, that I will write about them in a separate blog, before the Cubs opening day on Monday.
Some of the Cubs minor league up-and-comers played extensively today, including Arismendy Alcantara, Zeke DeVoss, Tim Saunders, and Ty Wright. Brett Jackson also saw action and made some exciting base-running maneuvers. Since the game was almost secondary today, I’ll just let you enjoy some of John Antonoff’s game photos.