Scottsdale Cactus League landmarks take fans back in time

The Sugar Bowl was once a hot spot for baseball players to chill out after the games.
(Photo by Shelly Bolt/Cronkite News)

Memorabilia covers the walls inside Don & Charlie’s restaurant.
(Photo by Shelly Bolt/Cronkite News)

Scottsdale Stadium in 1955 before Downtown Scottsdale was built up around the diamond.
(Photo by Shelly Bolt/Cronkite News)

SCOTTSDALE – It’s the early 1960s. You are with your father at the corner ice cream store and your favorite baseball player takes the seat next to you.

Welcome to the Sugar Bowl, which has been serving ballplayers and kids alike for the past 58 years. Located in Old Town Scottsdale, it is one of many popular Scottsdale spring training spots with a history as old as the Cactus League.

The Sugar Bowl
Carroll Huntress bought the Sugar Bowl from his uncle 30 years ago.

“A lot of well-known ball players came into the Sugar Bowl in the 60’s and 70’s before the explosion of Scottsdale,” said Huntress.

Walk into the Sugar Bowl and you feel like you are stepping back in time. To get a taste of history, as well as the double frosted ice cream treat, check out the Cactus League memorabilia in the shop.

There are two newspaper stories and a letter from the 1963 Boston Red Sox era focusing on Tony Horton and the Sugar Bowl when the Sox trained at Scottsdale Stadium.

4005 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Don & Charlie’s
At Don & Charlie’s, you can eat beneath decades of memories. Every square inch of the restaurant is covered with memorabilia featuring athletes, baseball executives, celebrities and even former presidents from as far back as the 1950s. Don Carson, owner of Don & Charlie’s, calls it his “stuff.”

“Somebody will say, ‘Hey where did you get the Brad Ziegler jersey from the Oakland A’s?’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, he gave it to me,’ ” Carson said of one of the many jerseys that hang throughout the establishment. “So there’s always a story behind stuff. I call it stuff because we don’t really buy anything. There’s a neat story behind all of this. You get lost in this memory lane.”

If you want to feel like a kid again, snag a seat next to a player or coach during spring training at Don & Charlie’s. It is still one of the most popular restaurants for the baseball crowd in the area.

“I think that restaurants serve such a great purpose in life, people go out to eat and they want to be entertained,” Carson said. “They want to get something they can’t get at home. And they want some home cooking and they want some love and recognition and they just want to feel a part of it. And I genuinely try to touch as many tables as I can because I think it’s a nice experience here.”
The menu is dotted with baseball connections as well, complete with “chopped steak a la Bud Selig,” named for the former baseball commissioner.

7501 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Scottsdale Stadium
Scottsdale Stadium, spring home of the San Francisco Giants, is celebrating its 60th year in the Cactus League. When it was built in 1955, it stood alone in Scottsdale. The original incarnation of the stadium hosted its first spring training in 1956. A new version was built on the same land in 1991. Now Old Town Scottsdale is a foul ball away.

“What is unique to the Scottsdale Stadium is our proximity to Old Town Scottsdale and all the kinds of entertainment district, the arts, the culture and all the restaurants and all the things that Old Town has to offer,” said Stephanie Tippett, Scottsdale Stadium’s assistant coordinator. “So that’s definitely unique. None of the other stadiums can say they are that intertwined in the neighborhood.”

One thing is for sure. Scottsdale is the perfect spot to catch a game, a steak and an ice cream treat all in the same day.

7408 E Osborn Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Scottsdale Stadium