Free exhibit celebrates MLB history in Scottsdale | City News

The way Mike Phillips sees it, “No community has a richer, more diverse spring training history than Scottsdale.”

And as president of the Arizona Baseball Legacy and Experience, Phillips, a retired City of Scottsdale spokesman, wants residents to learn more about that history – especially with Spring Training about to begin.

That’s why ABLE is offering a free exhibit at Scottsdale’s Little Red Schoolhouse Museum, which he said “takes visitors this season on a whimsical and thought-provoking journey through more than six decades of Scottsdale Stadium and the spring training teams that have called it home.”

ABLE’s mission is to celebrate Arizona baseball and educate the public about its history, culture and benefits.

The nonprofit’s offers artifacts, memorabilia and vignettes that Phillips says “will transport fans back to the launch of Scottsdale spring training when a rookie (and future Hall of Famer) named Brooks Robinson was trying to earn a job with the Baltimore Orioles.”

Robinson passed away Sept. 26 at 86.

Known as the “Human Vacuum Cleaner” and “Mr. Oriole,” his 23 seasons spent with a single team set a major league record only matched by Carl Yastrzemski, who also got his start in Scottsdale as a Red Sox rookie in 1960, according to the Arizona Baseball Legacy and Experience.

It also notes, “Scottsdale’s population when Robinson attended his first spring training was just over 5,200 residents and sidewalks and stoplights were scarce in town.”

“When they talk about horses having the right of way — that was Scottsdale way back in 1956,” Robinson said as he recalled that rookie season. “The ballpark was beautiful. It was brand new and built just for the Orioles.”

Robinson’s 23-year career with the Orioles saw him make 18 All-Star teams, win 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and “earn a reputation as the best third baseman of all time,” the nonprofit notes on its website.

Five Major League franchises have trained in Scottsdale, “featuring some of the most memorable teams, players and characters to ever grace the game,” Phillips said.

Memorabilia, period uniforms, photos and stories from each of those eras comprise the museum exhibit, which the nonprofit assembled with the help of the Scottsdale Historical Society.

The free exhibit runs through April at the museum, 7333 E. Scottsdale Mall, just east of the intersection of Brown Avenue and Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale.

The museum’s hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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