Best Valley Pastime 2009 | Spring Training | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix

In the 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, the confused ghost of a 1910s-era baseball player walks around a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, and asks, "Is this Heaven?" Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, responds, "No, it's Iowa."

Well, walk around Phoenix in mid-March and you may find yourself asking that same question. For baseball fans, March in Phoenix means one thing: spring training. There aren't too many places on the planet where someone can see future Hall of Famers Manny Ramirez, Randy Johnson and Alfonso Soriano take the field . . . on the same day.

Baseball offers its faithful a timeless element of grandeur in the spring ritual, and no place is that more evident than Phoenix. Over 1.5 million fans came to the Valley last year to watch the 14 teams that call Phoenix their springtime home.

From Scottsdale to Goodyear, from Peoria to Chandler, the Valley has nine spring training facilities for teams like the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Cleveland Indians. Given Phoenix's status as a "destination city," almost nobody in Phoenix is actually from Phoenix; spring training offers many Valley residents a chance to see their hometown teams in their new hometown.

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