You may have heard it mentioned here once or twice that Tommy likes baseball. He’s lucky enough to have grandparents who live in Mesa, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix) which is the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately however this year his school’s spring break came after the regular season had already started. To add insult to injury, the Diamondbacks were playing away the entire time we were visiting. Happily though, Grandma had scoped out an alternative that would allow us to satisfy our baseball craving: The Big League Dreams Sports Park in Gilbert, Arizona. Why Big League Dreams you may ask? The complex is home to replicas of famous ballparks – all of them open for actual play by both adult and youth leagues.
It’s obviously a popular concept, as all of the fields were in use on the April evening we visited. There are eight replicas in all, including some like the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field that in reality have gone the way of all things and now exist only here and in the dreams of baseball fans.
I love the fact that for each stadium, a set of crowded stands has been recreated so that players can feel like they are playing in front of a sell-out crowd.
The idiosyncrasies of each park have also been recreated from the ivy on the walls of Wrigley Field to the Schaefer Beer ad on the Ebbets Field scoreboard to the Big Green Monster of Fenway Park.
The park has a restaurant, and Matt and I noted (not a little enviously) that parents whose children’s Little League teams play at these fields can (and do) enjoy beers while watching the games, a pleasure we are denied in the league Tommy plays in. The atmosphere was noticeably relaxed. Certainly Tommy was completely comfortable, wandering from game to game, choosing a side to root for, and making knowledgeably observations about technique and strategy.
An evening visit to Big League Dreams means you’re sure to see plenty of play, and also will avoid the heat. We headed over there after dinner at Joe’s Farm Grill, which is located only minutes away. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12. There’s a playground, batting cages, and an arcade – enough to keep everyone in your family occupied, although we were content to while away the sunset hour simply by watching some baseball.
Tommy would have happily stayed until later in the evening as the air cooled and the middle school boys pitched and hit and ran, each enjoying their own baseball dreams.