Are you aware that for a mere six bucks you have the opportunity to meet the most promising young talent professional baseball has to offer, often before the players become household names or show up on most fantasy baseball managers’ radars? Seriously! They call it the Arizona Fall League. That same six dollars (U.S.) allows you to sit comfortably in relatively empty stands in a variety of Phoenix’s Spring Training facilities and learn more about the game of baseball while chatting to people who have been heavily invested in the business their entire lives. Oh yeah, the games are generally pretty entertaining contests as well.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Marcus Giles needs no introduction. What is important to take away from this discussion is that this is the type of player fans get to enjoy when they attend ballgames in the Arizona Fall League. Have you checked out the team rosters for this season?
The other important note I wanted to make is that Marcus’ older brother Brian attended several games to support him after the Pittsburgh Pirates 2000 season had ended. This is only an example of course. In a nutshell, Fall League fans consist primarily of scouts, graphers, player family members and/or present and former big league players and managers.
Obviously, appearing in AFL games doesn’t guarantee that a player will ever make it to the majors, as any of a number of roadblocks can derail a player’s career- or worse. Considered a top prospect for the New York Mets, outfielder Brian Cole was killed after being ejected from his SUV in a single car accident only five months after he signed his Arizona Fall League baseball card for my collection. I recently observed that the lawsuit surrounding Brian Cole’s death was recently settled– just nine and a half years after the accident that occurred at the end of Spring Training in 2001. Cole’s family reportedly received $131 million in actual damages from the Ford Motor Company prior to punitive damages consideration by the Jasper County, Mississippi jury that tried the case for the third and final time. Baseball fans can only speculate how Cole’s 135 minor league stolen bases in 320 lifetime games would have translated at the major league level.
Arizona Fall League…. Major League Baseball’s best kept secret.