Welcome to Goodyear Ballpark, Shogo Akiyama, Delino DeShields Jr. and Darrell and Sandra Singleton.
Baseball fans know about the first two. “Sho Time” Akiyama is a Japanese star who signed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason. DeShields came to the Cleveland Indians in a controversial trade that shipped two-time Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers.
The Goodyear Ballpark is the Spring Training home to the Reds and Indians, so Akiyama and DeShields will get their first taste of spring ball in the West Valley.
Same for the Singletons.
They moved to Goodyear from Seattle nine months ago, just in time to escape another gloomy Northwest winter. They’ve been enjoying all there is to do here, attending the Arizona Balloon Classic and other festivals.
Now they are ready for the superstar of West Valley events: Spring Training.
Cactus League games from Goodyear to Peoria kick off Saturday, Feb. 22. Here in Goodyear, the two home teams square off in the “Ohio Day” showdown at 1:05 p.m.
Speaking of Ohio, Friday afternoon it was 27 degrees in Cincinnati, a biting 17 in Cleveland.
Flip Cleveland’s temperature around and you get the 71-degree day Goodyear enjoyed.
Sounds perfect to the Singletons.
They stopped to talk after purchasing tickets at Goodyear Ballpark last week. What do these Spring Training rookies expect from the games here?
“Sitting in the sunshine,” said a grinning Darrell Singleton.
“Eating a hot dog and drinking a beer,” said Sandra Singleton, naming baseball’s famous double play refreshment.
It’s a little too far from home to walk to the ballpark, but they’ll take the 10-minute drive, with plenty of parking.
When they would go to Seattle Mariners games, it got to be nerve-wracking. “Seattle’s dangerous, and it’s a hassle to park the car,” said Sandra Singleton.
She sized up the cozy, new-looking Goodyear Ballpark and added: “This is kind of laid back.”
As the Goodyear Ballpark website promises, “Whether you prefer relaxing on a blanket on the grassy berm, or enjoying the view from a luxury suite balcony behind home plate, you’ll have an excellent view of the game in this intimate venue.”
The Goodyear Ballpark is celebrating its 10th year in 2020. HOK Sport of Kansas City designed the $108 million baseball complex, which has 8,000 stadium seats, 1,500 lawn seats, six luxury suites and more than 300 seats in the Right Field Pavilion.
Opening day is also Autograph Day, with the first 200 people through the gates getting tickets for the pregame autograph session.
Every Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark is Kids Day, with giveaways for the first 250 kids through the gates. Kids can also run the bases after the game.
Arizona meets Ohio for the food offerings: The 1901 Charter Grille, inside the first base entrance, and Queen City Grill, on the third-base side, offer “tastes of Ohio.” Hangar 46 slings ballpark food behind the center-field wall.
New food this year:
• Loaded corn dog nuggets.
• Garlic parmesan waffle fries.
• Desert tenders sandwich, buffalo chicken tenders on slider buns.
• A nacho helmet, nachos served in a keepsake team helmet.
• The Cheesy Changeup, a half-pound cheeseburger surrounded by two grilled cheese sandwiches, made with Texas toast.
The ballpark is geared up and ready for first pitch.
“We are done hiring for this season and are fully staffed,” said Debbie Diveney, of the ballpark’s marketing staff.
She said season and group ticket sales “are on track.”
The two Ohio teams with some of Major League Baseball’s greatest legacies have been in town, working out to prepare for Spring Training, when games don’t count but they sure are fun.
So the fans are ready, the players are ready and the ballpark is ready.
That leaves two words:
Goodyear Ballpark is at 1933 S. Ballpark Way, off South Bullard Avenue in southwest Goodyear. For more information and tickets, visit goodyearbp.com.