Attending a major league baseball exhibition game at Cashman Field has become a rite of spring for many in Southern Nevada.
The tradition continues today and Saturday, when the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox square off in Las Vegas' annual Big League Weekend.
But if 51s president Don Logan had his druthers, Las Vegas wouldn't be the site of just a couple of exhibition games each year, it would be the spring training site for several teams.
"It's pretty much impossible now, but one of my thoughts had been to try to make Las Vegas the permanent spring training home for somebody," Logan said. "We came very close to being home to four teams at one point in time."
The San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners played the first game at Cashman Field, on April 1, 1983, and they also played exhibition games there in 1991 and 1992.
But Logan began bringing several big league ballclubs to town in 1993 -- when the Padres, Mariners, White Sox, Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers played here -- in an attempt to lure teams to Las Vegas for spring training.
He had serious discussions with several clubs, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, but couldn't seal a deal.
"We talked to a lot of teams, and most of the ones that were in Florida (for spring training) have gravitated to the West now (in Arizona), which is interesting," he said.
Logan twice tried to lure the Dodgers, the last time in 2000, but to no avail. They've since moved their spring training home from "Dodgertown" in Vero Beach, Fla., to Glendale, Ariz.
"It makes a lot more sense to train 300 miles from your fan base than 3,000 miles," Logan said. "I just wish it was here instead of there."
Although he failed in his quest to lure teams to Las Vegas for spring training, Logan has succeeded in bringing a wide range of teams here for exhibition games, including the Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.
The Oakland Athletics also played their first six regular-season games at Cashman Field in 1996, against the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers.
Logan, who sets up the games himself each summer, said he had the New York Yankees scheduled to play here in 1995, but all games were canceled because of the players' strike.
Local fans have received the annual Big League Weekends well.
The first meeting here between the Cubs and White Sox, on April 3, 1993, drew a record crowd of 15,025 to Cashman Field, and the crosstown rivals also played in front of a pair of sellout crowds of more than 11,000 here last season.
With the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament also taking place in town this weekend, tickets still are available for both baseball games, but Logan said he expects them to sell out.
It's the second straight year, and only third time, that exhibition games will be played here before the end of March.
"It's the only weekend we could do it," Logan said. "It's gotten really tough to get games at the end of spring training because so many major league teams host games in their own stadiums. This may become the norm instead of the exception."
Both teams will feature split squads today and Saturday. Cubs manager Lou Piniella won't be here -- coach Alan Trammell will manage in his place -- but White Sox manager and former Las Vegas Stars player Ozzie Guillen will.
Cubs players expected to play here include Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, Kosuke Fukodome, Micah Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot.
White Sox players scheduled to play include Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre and Omar Vizquel.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.