By Philip Haldiman
Bridget Binsbacher has baseball in her blood.
The sport has been a part of her family for generations dating back to her grandfather who played on a minor league team in the 1930s.
She was born and raised in San Diego and as a girl, he took her to Padres games at Jack Murphy Stadium.
She has since laid down roots in the Northwest Valley, living here for more than 30 years.
But baseball certainly has not faded away during that time — her spring training memories began at the Peoria Sports Complex in 1994 with the Padres and the Seattle Mariners, the venue’s two home teams.
“I was packing a stroller, snacks and a lot of sunscreen,” Ms. Binsbacher said. “I absolutely consider myself a baseball mom as we traveled with our boys for many years from the Southwest all the way to a championship game in Cooperstown.”
In 2008, Ms. Binsbacher became a member of the Cactus League Association, supported largely by volunteers. In 2012 she served as their first female executive board member.
So it is no surprise she recently took the reigns as director of operations for the Cactus League, the organization’s first paid employee.
Ms. Binsbacher said the association continues to grow and can no longer rely on all volunteers to represent the membership and advance the organization.
The Cactus League board is committed to taking the organization to new heights and continue the annual economic engine and tourism driver the Cactus League has become, she said.
The league generated an estimated economic impact of $644.2 million in 2018, according to Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
“I am excited to lead the way in executing the strategic plan, build a new leadership team and position the association for future success,” she said.
West Valley residents might know Ms. Binsbacher through her work on the Peoria City Council, where she is the vice mayor and represents the Mesquite District in the northern part of town, an area of tremendous growth during her tenure. She is in the middle of her second term.
Previous to her election, she spent decades volunteering with youth and seniors.
“Service to others has always been my passion … moving to Peoria allowed me to take my service to another level,” Ms. Binsbacher said.
In 2005, she transitioned from the financial industry to the nonprofit sector as the executive director of the Peoria Diamond Club, a charitable organization whose volunteers help with spring training operations at the Peoria Sports Complex.
She said her work with the Peoria Diamond Club put she and her family squarely in the middle of the spring training operation.
During her time with the Diamond Club, she partnered with the city, as well as the Padres and the Mariners with a volunteer labor force of more than 600 baseball lovers, she said.
“In exchange for the support, we earned funding to give back to the youth in the Northwest Valley in the way of grants and scholarships,” she said.
For the Binsbachers, baseball and the Cactus League have been a family constant.
Her oldest son was a student in the inaugural class at Liberty High School, which opened in 2006.
She dedicated her time to creating a lasting legacy at the school including serving on the Parent Club as well as the football and baseball booster clubs.
“Together with a handful of other highly dedicated parents and pioneers, we were able to build those programs for the future,” she said.
The Cactus League played prominently in her sons’ athletic experiences growing up, logging many hours of tournament time at most of the Cactus League facilities throughout the Valley.
Her two oldest sons won a state championship at Liberty High School in 2010, and one son played for the Angels club organization and went on to graduate from Regis University on a baseball and academic scholarship.
“Baseball has given me a lifetime of memories I could never have imagined,” she said. “My family and I will continue to make wonderful memories along with the other millions of fans enjoying this incredible experience we call Cactus League baseball.”
The Arizona Cactus League Association was formed more than 70 years ago to establish and nurture business relationships with Major League Baseball franchises and to facilitate and participate in activities to promote and fundraise for the league. With 10 facilities hosting 15 teams, the Valley has the largest concentration of professional baseball facilities in the country.
The 2018 Cactus League season generated an estimated economic impact of $644.2 million, according to a study by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.