UPDATE: Muhammad Ali arguably the most famous figure to visit Hi Corbettby Javier Morales on Jun. 03, 2012, under Sports
Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category. For a different look at University of Arizona sports, check out Javier’s unique Web site: WILDABOUTAZCATS.net
Arguably the best basketball player to walk the earth — Michael Jordan — and “The Greatest” boxer — Muhammad Ali — have now visited Hi Corbett Field. With apologies to Barry Bonds fans out there, the top home-run hitter in baseball history — Hank Aaron — also played there.
“The Duke” — John Wayne — also graced Hi Corbett Field while filming movies such as Rio Lobo at Old Tucson. Legendary comedian Bob Hope, who was raised in Cleveland, was a part owner of the Indians when they trained in Tucson. He visited there often.
Ali — the Louisville Lip as he was once called — attended Saturday night’s 16-4 victory for Arizona over his Louisville Cardinals (he is a native of the Kentucky city). Jordan played a game at Hi Corbett Field during his baseball-experiment days in 1994 when he participated in the Arizona Fall League.
Hall of Fame players have come through Tucson and played either minor-league baseball or spring-training baseball at Hi Corbett. They include former Cleveland Indians standouts such as Bert Blyleven, Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, Satchel Paige, Gaylord Perry, Frank Robinson, Hoyt Wilhelm and Early Wynn.
Aaron, who hit 755 home runs in his big-league career, played at Hi Corbett when the Atlanta Braves played some of their spring-training games Arizona in the early 1970s.
Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Ted Williams have also played there. Reggie Jackson played for ASU against Arizona at Hi Corbett Field in 1966, and he also took part in spring training games there while with the Oakland A’s.
Alex Rodriguez played against the Tucson Toros at Hi Corbett when he was playing in the Seattle Mariners minor-league system. Sammy Sosa also played there while in the White Sox organization. They also participated in spring-training games there.
The Colorado Rockies played their first spring-training game in 1993 at Hi Corbett Field. San Francisco, the Rockies’ opponent in that game, had a lineup that included Bonds, Matt Williams, Will Clark and Willie McGee. The announced attendance was 7,726.
Parts of the first “Major League” movie were filmed at Hi Corbett. The cast included Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and Tom Berenger.
Lee Marvin reportedly attended Toros games while filming a movie at Old Tucson. Michael Landon, James Garner, Kevin Costner, Phil Harris, Robert Duvall, Pat Paulsen and other entertainment figures showed up in the grandstand at Hi Corbett Field.
Other entertainment legends have performed at Hi Corbett, including Jim Morrison and The Doors in concerts in 1967 and 1968, and Ray Charles in 1993.
According to DoorsHistory.com, after two songs in the 1968 concert, Morrison asked fans in the front row for a cigarette and the stage was bombarded by lit cigarettes. The band played “Break on Through” and then the power in the stadium went out. The power soon returned but the only light operating was the main spotlight.
Morrison pointed to people in the audience during the finale of “Light My Fire” and encouraged them to go on the stage. The security made a barricade in front of the stage but they were overtaken and the audience surrounded the stage while Morrison finished the performance sandwiched between the security guards.
With Ali, who now resides in Scottsdale, visiting Hi Corbett on Saturday, this is one man’s opinion of the top 10 figures to ever grace the stadium with their presence there:
1. Muhammad Ali
2. Michael Jordan
3. Hank Aaron
4. Joe DiMaggio
5. Jim Morrison
6. Ray Charles
7. John Wayne
8. Willie Mays
9. Ted Williams
10. Sandy Koufax