It is called the Cactus League, and the Indians, who train in Tucson, can wahoo to their hearts' delight among the giant saguaros that poke their fingers 60 feet into the dry Arizona sky. This is baseball's Western training ground, home in the spring to the Cubs and A's and Giants and Brewers and Padres. Even though it reaches to effete Palm Springs, Calif., where the Angels romp among tropical plants as lush as any found in Florida, the image is still Cisco Kid and last frontier. The fans are a lot younger than they are back East, and louder. They let a slugger like Ernie Banks (right) know it when they want him to pull one over Scottsdale's Camelback Mountain.
Fenced in and loving it, some Oakland A's soak up the Arizona sun, even as their state rivals, the Angels, string out for that detested rite of spring, the wind sprint. But when the exhibition games begin, only the horn-tooting teenage fans are casual. With almost every job at stake, the competition is as deadly as a Gila monster's bite. Play ball.
Harry Halo, as the Angels call their most rabid fan, arrives for a Palm Springs exhibition game in his midseason uniform featuring the autographed jacket and the electric headdress. In Scottsdale a mini-Bleacher Bum, complete with helmet, girds for a session of Cub watching in the typically informal park. Some Cactus League scoreboards are hand operated and the stands are the kind that splinter.