The Francisco Grande Hotel during its Giant years. (Original photo source Francisco Grande Hotel, as posted on the Phoenix Magazine web site.)
The two legendary minor league complexes in Angels history are Holtville and Mesa. The Angels were in Holtville from 1966 through 1981. They were in Mesa from 1985 through 2005.
Inbetween, there was Casa Grande.
The March 2009 issue of Phoenix Magazine tells you all you need to know, so no reason for me to regurgitate it here. It’s mostly about the Giants years, but it does briefly mention that the Angels camped there from 1982 through 1984.
The Angels’ major league camp was in Palm Springs where Gene Autry lived, but the park formerly known as the Polo Grounds had little room to handle so many players, major and minor. Palm Springs also had many temptations for young hormonally raging ballplayers. That was why they started a separate camp in Holtville in 1966; the major leaguers reported there in late February, then when they moved to Palm Springs in early March for exhibition games the minor leaguers would move in.
Just why they left Holtville, I’ve yet to discover, but I’ll be researching more in coming days. In any case, they moved on to Casa Grande, which was just as isolated as Holtville but had a hotel on the grounds called Francisco Grande.
Click Here to visit the hotel’s web site. There’s a nice 3½ minute video on the home page that reviews its history and shows how it looks today.
When we leave for Florida on Thursday, we’re going to stop in Holtville at lunch to tour the museum and determine what’s available in their archives. Then it’s on to Casa Grande, another 200 miles down the road on the I-8, to spend the night at the Francisco Grande hotel. I’ll try to shoot photos and/or video at both.