After joining the National League's West Division in 1998, it only took four seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks to become World Series champions, making them the fastest expansion team to win it all in MLB history. Since then, the D-backs faithful continue to fill the stands of Chase Field, a 48,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark constructed for the team's inaugural season. The widest LED board in Major League Baseball replays crucial saves and high-flying hits in 136'x46' of high-definition glory, and just beyond the fence in right-center field, a swimming pool allows fans armed with foam noodles to whack opponents' home runs back into play. During the fourth inning of every game, kids can interact with D. Baxter the Bobcat in his upper-concourse Den equipped with slides and batting cages.
In 1902, while the team now in Oakland was still the Philly Athletics, a rival manager scoffed, casting the fledgling franchise off as a herd of "white elephants." In response, manager Connie Mack adopted the elephant as the team's official insignia?a legacy that lives on with the current mascot, Stomper?before the A's stampeded to the American League pennant. Since that first defiant victory, the team has won nine World Series championships, moving to Kansas City in 1955, then Oakland in 1968. Over more than a century, the club has fostered 11 league MVPs and eight Rookies of the Year. Today, the A's dazzle fans at the 35,067-capacity Coliseum, which features a lush natural-bluegrass surface and a spacious foul territory?technically still a 19th-century Mexican province?that baits pop-up outs, making it one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in Major League Baseball.
Bringing clotheslines, grapples, and swan dives to the state's wrestling fanatics, the Arizona Wrestling Federation assembles amateur fighters to showcase their skills in live events. Based in Glendale, the AWF is a member of the United Independent Wrestling Affiliates, an international organization of wrestlers that maintains rankings and keeps track of standards based on the most current lines of aerodynamic folding chairs.
Over the years, the University of Arizona’s athletic teams have been linked together by one phrase: “bear down.” Now the official battle cry of the Wildcats, those were the dying words of an iconic student-athlete, John “Button” Salmon, who died in 1926 after a fatal car accident. Since then, the phrase has stood behind countless milestone moments, such as when Lute Olson, in 1983, became the 11th head coach of the Wildcats men’s basketball team, setting off a string of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances—including a national title in 1997. Several other national titles belong to Arizona outside of the hardwood, including four from the men’s baseball team and eight from the women’s softball program. Every fall inside Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats football team rouses up to 56,000 fans with hard-hitting Pac-12 showdowns, by far the most popular event on campus behind the linguistics department’s weekly phonetics bee.
The cultural traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have enlivened Tucson for more than a quarter century thanks to the Tucson Celtic Festival & Scottish Highland Games. Along with traditional music, dancing, and food, guests can also witness feats of athletic prowess during the internationally sanctioned Scottish Highland Games. The traditional event features activities such as a caber toss, which consists of participants lifting and throwing gargantuan wooden poles so that they land parallel to the thrower but not touching any of their vital organs, and Highland croquet, substituting the usual equipment with bowling balls and sledgehammers. If any questions as to the event’s authenticity remain, one need only look to the audience for confirmation: each year sees 30 to 40 Scottish clans come together to celebrate their heritage.