About 20 members and guests of the Flame Delhi Chapter gathered in Tucson, Arizona, on June 15, 2013 for a meeting at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly Tucson Electric Park) in its third — and final — season as home of the Tucson Padres, the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, before they move to El Paso next year.
Reno Aces manager Brett Butler, who spent 17 years in the major leagues from 1981-97, spoke to the group about how he tries to develop young players and the challenges of managing in the minors. He has been managing Reno since 2009 and led the Aces to the Pacific Coast League championship last year. He talked about the different types of players he gets at the Triple-A level and how he balances the desire to win games with the organization’s need to develop talent. He candidly answered many questions from the group and encouraged us to keep a close eye on two of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rising prospects, Chris Owings and Matt Davidson.
Pat Darcy, who is most famous for giving up Carlton Fisk’s famous home run in the 1975 World Series, was also a guest speaker at the SABR meeting. A University of Arizona graduate, he spent parts of three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and is now a commercial real estate agent in the Tucson area. He was involved with the city’s Baseball Task Force in the 1990s that helped bring the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox to town for spring training. He spoke about his baseball career — yes, even the Fisk homer — and the prospects of Tucson getting another team to replace the Triple-A Padres.
Mike Anderson of Bisbee, who runs the Friends of Warren Ballpark nonprofit with his wife, Judy, delivered an informative presentation on the early history of baseball in Arizona. He spoke about early games between “cowboys and Indians” at Camp Grant, the traditional Thanksgiving baseball game at copper mining camps in southern Arizona; the state’s first major leaguer, Flame Delhi; and Arizona’s first entries into organized ball.
After a delicious ballpark cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers, we went upstairs to watch the Aces and Padres on a warm and breezy evening. Reno’s Zeke Spruill, whom the Diamondbacks acquired in the Justin Upton trade last winter, shut out the Padres for eight innings in a 5-0 win.
Thanks to Rodney Johnson and Tom Halleran for organizing the meeting, our first in Tucson in a few years. We hope to be back again soon, perhaps for a U of A game next spring.
For more information, visit our new chapter website at sabraz.org.
More photos are below.
— Jacob Pomrenke