When San Francisco Giants baseball owner Horace Stoneham wanted a combination resort/spring training facility built in Casa Grande in the late 1950s, he insisted that everything be “big league.” The Francisco Grande resort lived up to his vision.
The $1.5 million complex was baseball-themed; most memorable were the matching baseball and baseball bat-shaped swimming pools. Stoneham spared no expense, burying power and telephone lines underground so as not to mar the beautiful desert vistas. The resort re-erected a grandstand from a defunct Oregon dog track to provide seats for 3,000 fans at the complex’s stadium, according to Arizona Days and Ways.
More than 200 baseball players in the Giant’s farm system trained at the facility in 1963, including future Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and Juan Marichal. The Giants used the complex until 1982, and soon afterward, the resort abandoned its alter ego as a training site. After recent renovations, Francisco Grande is marketing its unique heritage: “If you left your heart in San Francisco and want to go back, you have come to the right place.”