Hi Corbett Field Was Tribe’s Arizona Home Before Goodyear
By Mike Brandyberry
Goodyear, Arizona is the current Spring Training home for the Cleveland Indians, but Arizona was once before the spring home for the Tribe. Before the new complex in Goodyear, and prior to their stint in Winter Haven, Florida, the Tribe called Tucson, Arizona and Hi Corbett Field home for 45 years.
Originally built in 1937, the park was built for the minor league Class D Tucson Lizards. The park was renamed Hi Corbett Field after Arizona state senator, Hiram Stevens Corbett. Corbett was instrumental in bringing spring training to Arizona. In 1947, Indians owner Bill Veeck was convinced to leave Florida and bring the Tribe west because Arizona had a very relaxed perception of African Americans versus the South. Veeck intended to sign African American ballplayers and did so later that year when Larry Doby broke the American League’s color barrier.
The Tribe called Hi Corbett Field their Spring Training home for the next 45 seasons. Spring Training scenes for the movie, “Major League,” were even shot at Hi Corbett Field, with the extras being Arizona Wildcat baseball players.
Cleveland left Tucson and Hi Corbett Field after the 1992 season, heading for Homestead, Florida and eventually relocating to Winter Haven. A hurricane damaged the Homestead site and left the Indians no choice but to make Winter Haven their home on short notice. The newly established expansion Colorado Rockies made Hi Corbett Field their home in 1993 and stayed there until 2010.
The field was renovated in 1972, 1992, 1997 and 1999 and has been the home to several minor league teams over the previous seven decades. Hi Corbett Field has been the home to Arizona Fall League games and even the headquarters to USA Baseball from 1997-2003. After the Rockies left Hi Corbett, they have become the home for the Arizona Wildcat baseball program. This season is their inaugural spring in their new home.