Newly elected Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Tribal Council Member Leonard Rivers threw out the first pitch at the Cactus League spring training game on March 10 featuring the Oakland A’s against the Chicago White Sox.
The 70-degree temperatures and bright blue skies made for perfect weather for a spring training game.
Rivers warmed up first by throwing three practice balls, clocking at 40-plus mph.
Out on the field, Rivers met Ozzie Guillén, former Major League Baseball shortstop and current manager of the Chicago White Sox. Guillén was the team’s coach when the White Sox won the World Series title in 2005, their first World Series win since 1917. Guillén autographed a ball for Rivers.
Rivers is not new to the game of baseball; he plays catcher in the Community leagues. However, for this game he also got to pitch a strike to18-year-old Oakland A’s catcher Max Stassi.
Spring training is a major part of Arizona history. In 1946, spring training was brought to Arizona and the Cactus League was born, starting with the Cleveland Indians and the New York Giants. Today Arizona hosts 12 spring training teams.
Every March, thousands of visitors flock to Arizona to enjoy the sunshine, low humidity and 70-degree temperatures and escape the cold weather back East.
Rivers said, “It’s an honor to be able to throw the first pitch representing our Community.”
The SRPMIC is building a new state-of-the-art spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. It will be ready to host its first Cactus League game in 2011.