How COVID-19 Shook the Cactus League

Baseball Insiders and Government Officials Share Their Thoughts on Arizona's Lost Spring


image - GW Sport Management Cactus League logo

COVID-19 brought sports to a standstill in the United States, including Major League Baseball spring training, an annual rite of spring. On March 12, Commissioner Rob Manfred cancelled the exhibition season in Florida and Arizona. That posed a challenge for GW students in Professor Mark Hyman’s “Business of Spring Training – Arizona” course.

On March 15, 18 students, most in the Master of Sport Management program, had been set to begin a week of site visits and interviews throughout the Cactus League. The trip to Arizona never happened. Instead, the class pivoted to a “Business of Spring Training Oral History Project.” Student teams researched and then virtually interviewed nine baseball industry and Arizona government officials to learn how the pandemic had touched their work and personal lives.


photo - Ted Barrett

Ted Barrett

Umpire, Major League Baseball

"When they finally said [we’re] shutting it down, it came as a really big shock. I never imagined baseball would shut down.”

Read the Ted Barrett Interview

photo - Bridget Binsbacher

Bridget Binsbacher

Executive director, the Cactus League

"When you hear the news, initially you think, 'Oh my gosh, this can’t be happening.'”

Read the Bridget Binsbacher Interview

photo - Scott Bush

Scott Bush

CEO, Society for American Baseball Research

"No one is going to hit for a cycle tonight and allow us to showcase relevant statistics from our database. No one is going to turn a triple play.”

Read the Scott Bush Interview

photo - Richard Justice

Richard Justice


"I thought to myself, 'Is it appropriate to write about the five best relievers in the American League or the Atlanta Braves bullpen at a time when the whole world is focused someplace else?'”

Read the Richard Justice Interview

photo - Jonathan Jwayad

Jonathan Jwayad

Chief operating officer and co-founder, Baseballism

"Everyone wants a brand with a heartbeat, a brand with a mission, and an authentic brand, and we try to do that every single day."

Read the Jonathan Jwayad Interview

photo - Mayor Jim Lane

W.J. "Jim" Lane

Mayor, Scottsdale, Arizona

"The uncertainty of the situation is quite difficult on people as we continue to work through this."

Read the Jim Lane Interview

photo - Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon

Manager, Los Angeles Angels

"I’ve tried to demonstrate leadership by becoming more active on social media. We don’t need any more negative conjecture; we need positive conjecture."

Read the Joe Maddon Interview

photo - Jerry Reinsdorf

Jerry Reinsdorf

Owner, MLB’s Chicago White Sox and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls

"In my lifetime, I can't think of anything that hit suddenly like this or [that] is as uncertain as this."

Read the Jerry Reinsdorf Interview

photo - Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal

Senior baseball writer, The Athletic

"I have covered sports for the past 25 years and have never seen the sports world so quiet. Sports are an outlet for people in distress and now that’s gone."

Read the Ken Rosenthal Interview


Special Thanks

Amy Rosewater, UMPS CARE charities
Rick Vaughn, Respect 90 Foundation


Scott Reifert, Chicago White Sox
Isol Morales, Office of the Mayor, Scottsdale, Arizona


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