CASA GRANDE, AZ (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- The street may be named candlestick Drive but we are clearly not in San Francisco.

We're out in the middle of nowhere, we're five miles from the City of Casa Grande. Forty five minutes from Phoenix, an hour from Tucson.

A high-rise hotel, reminiscent of 1960s Las Vegas, built smack dab in the middle of the desert.

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It's not something that you would see in a lot of places in Arizona.

It could be easily named "Sahara" or "The sands" but while the rat pack was playing there, Willie Mays and his Giants were playing here.

The Francisco Grande Hotel and Golf Resort was built in 1961 by the owner of the San Francisco Giants. They built the facility for pre-season baseball. They were the first team to use Arizona for pre-season baseball.

The Giants first moved their spring training complex from Florida to Phoenix in 1958. But owner, Horace Stoneham, had a grander vision.

The top of the building actually looks like a baseball hat turned upside down.

A parking lot formed like a catcher's mitt, and a pool shaped like a baseball bat.

The hot is a baseball, so I guess we were a little more gimmicky in the beginning than Vegas was in the 60s.

They even built a small stadium to seat 3,000 fans. The Francisco Grande was the desert playground of future hall-of-famers like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal


The players trained together, ate and even roomed together.

Except for Mays and McCovey - they had their own rooms in the high rise.

In 1979, the Giants moved their Cactus League headquarters to Scottsdale. By the end of 1982, there was no more baseball.

The Francisco Grande was remodeled and became a golf resort.

But the hotel's walls are a shrine to the big names that have stayed here, and part of every guest's experience. Click here for more information about the hotel and reservations.


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