Spring training: New home for baseball exhibits planned in Mesa

Spring training is here, with pitchers and catchers already reporting, and baseball fans are stopping by the Mesa Historical Museum to see an exhibit showcasing the history of the Cactus League in Arizona.

"They love it because they've come here to go to games, and they want something else to do," said Susan Ricci, Executive Director of the Mesa Historical Museum. "They come here to see the play ball exhibit."

The spring training exhibit at Mesa Historical Museum showcases anything from signed bats and jerseys to Cactus League Hall of Fame plaques. Ricci said currently, memorabilia has to be rotated out every year because of a lack of space. To avoid that, they are looking to expand.

"People are really excited because a lot of people come and they want to see more, but we just don't have the capacity to show them more in this building of the museum," said Ricci. "Now, we'll be able to show them so much more."

The new baseball museum will be moved to its own building: a 1939 auditorium located next door.

"We are right now in the middle of a capital campaign to renovate that building, because it has 4,000 square feet," said Ricci. "We will be able to house all of our memorabilia and all of our photos and stories, all at the same time."

The move will allow room for new interactive exhibits for kids.

"We encompass stories about baseball throughout Arizona, from the barnstorming that took place in the early 1900s to the Negro Leagues, the Japanese internment baseball," said Ricci. "We have so many different stories, and a lot of them have a lot of human interest, along with the stories and that's what people really like."

Museum officials say they are in the planning stages, and hope to open the new exhibit in 18 months.