Looking back: Cubs at Catalina Island

Apparently, this was a Jeopardy question a couple days back.  I missed it, it was brought to my attention by a colleague and I just had to look it up.  I’m glad I did because it’s a great story and probably something I should have known.

A piece of Cubs history I was not familiar with as it was before my time, I learned the Cubs for more than 30 years (1921-1951) spent their spring training at Catalina Island. 

Springtrainingmagazine.com has an excellent article on the subject of Cubs’ history of spring training at Catalina Island.  It was actually first published in 1997 with contributions from those who actually live on Catalina Island. 

When the Cubs first stepped off the steamer onto the Avalon wharf in 1921, they were struck by the rugged beauty of the place. Over the years they got to know it intimately, because Cubs managers liked to use the rough terrain and mountain trails for conditioning. The island is home to mountain goats, and winter-softened Cubbies often suffered long workouts hiking along goat paths. Third baseman Randy Jackson complained of shin splints, and Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett anguished, “I hope they’ve got banked turns in the National League infields, because one of my legs is shorter than the other from trying to navigate those damn hills.”

 

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The Cubs left Catalina Island in 1952 after several years of bad weather including snow in 1951.  Philip K Wrigley had contacts in Arizona and moved to Mesa where they are today.

One Response to “Looking back: Cubs at Catalina Island”

  1. In my youth, there were four teams training in Arizona: Cleveland (Tucson), Boston (Phoenix), San Francisco (Scottsdale) and the Cubs (Mesa).

    The other 12 trained in Florida.

    The Cubs regularly won the Cactus League.

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