Exhibit reception, panel discussion celebrate upcoming Cactus League season

From left is Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Monte Irvin, and Larry Doby. (photo by city of Scottsdale and Mesa Historical Society)

Baseball is back and the public is invited to a free reception and panel discussion Wednesday, Feb. 15 focused on the Cactus League and the first players to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.

The reception takes place at 5 p.m. in the main exhibit space of Scottsdale’s Civic Center Library at 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

The library is hosting a 2,500-square-foot historic baseball exhibit produced by the Arizona Spring Training Experience and the Cactus League Hall of Fame, according to a press release.

Willie Mays, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Ernie Banks were African-Americans who helped break baseball’s color barrier in the 1940s and 50s.

The timing of their induction is significant because February is Black History Month and 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the breaking of Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Following the exhibit reception, the library will host a panel discussion on Baseball and Diversity that will cover the achievements of players who pioneered integration as well as today’s efforts to grow the sport and make the game all inclusive.

Panelists for the event include Tyrone Brooks, senior director of Major League Baseball’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program; George Dean, president of the Greater Phoenix Urban League; and Charlie Vascellaro, a baseball writer and Cactus League historian.

National writer and columnist Barry M. Bloom will moderate the panel. Scottsdale’s Office of Diversity and Dialogue is sponsoring the panel.

Mr. Mays, Mr. Doby, Mr. Irvin and Mr. Banks will be formally inducted into the Cactus League Hall of Fame during the league’s annual luncheon at 11 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton at 5001 N. Scottsdale Road.

Individual seats to the luncheon begin at $75 and are available to the public while supply lasts. For more information, email info@cactusleague.com.

The 2017 inductee into the Cactus League Hall of Fame also will be honored at the March 4 Spring Training Festival. The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall at 7380 E. Second St.


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