3/24 HoHoKam countdown
The Cubs have three games remaining at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa before packing up and heading north. In 2014, the team will move into a new facility in west Mesa near the intersection of highways 101 and 202. I’ve seen way too much PFP and towel drills to remember everything. Do you have any memories of HoHoKam to share? Here are some personal highlights:
* The reserve players take batting practice on the back field, behind center, and when Dwight Smith was on the Cubs, he was usually part of that group. Ryne Sandberg noticed and needled Smith about it. One day, there was a large banner on the back field, proclaiming it “Dwight Smith Memorial Field” in honor of the outfielder. Smitty took it well.
* When the Cubs players went to stretch one day, strength coach Tim Buss noticed a compact car parked on the ramp that had obviously seen better days. The car had been bludgeoned by someone using a sledge hammer and absolutely destroyed. Buss did a double take. “Hey, that’s my car,” he said. The players had some fun at his expense, and delivered a new SUV later that morning.
* Speaking of cars, Will Ohman went to the bullpen for a game and saw a tire there. Then, the lefty realized it was his car’s tire. His car was up on blocks in the parking lot, and someone had hidden his four tires in four different places, including one in the shower.
* During the Arizona Fall League, Matt Murton befriended a young boy named Morgan. Murton and Morgan would play catch on the HoHoKam field (I have a photo of the two in my office). The friendship carried over to Spring Training as Morgan would show up for early batting practice and bring Murton drawings he’d made for him. When the Cubs played the Diamondbacks in the 2007 NLDS, Morgan was there to present Murton with a gift.
* Player-wise, it’s been fun to see youngsters like Javier Baez, who hit a walkoff home run against Team Japan on March 15. Sammy Sosa always made the field look small with his mammoth home runs. On Saturday, Shawon Dunston Jr. scored the winning run on a wild pitch. I remember covering his dad in games at HoHoKam.
Do you have a favorite player, favorite game, favorite memory? Either leave a comment here or send an email to CubsInbox@gmail.com.
– Carrie Muskat