Serving Scottsdale with Commitment & Camaraderie Since 1961
Prelude – 1955
The result of banter at the Pink Pony among town ‘movers and shakers’ and the then-manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Paul Richards, the Scottsdale Baseball Club formed, raised money and built a wooden stadium on the northeast corner of what is now Osborn Road and Drinkwater Boulevard, designed to host the Baltimore Orioles for spring training in February-March 1956. Land for the stadium was leased from that owner by the Civic Coordinating Council.
On March 1st a small group of business leaders and community-oriented men met to discuss forming a group to promote Scottsdale and to attract tourism and business to the city and all it had to offer. They liked the membership model of the Phoenix Thunderbirds and cited them as a similar group as to what they had in mind to form.
What would become the Scottsdale Charros was formed on April 6, 1961 at a meeting held at the Hotel Valley Ho. They discussed being an organization of 30 active Scottsdale businessmen (up to the age of 45), and tossed around numerous group names, such as Vaqueros, Caballeros, Roadrunners, Camels, Birds, Kivas, Wranglers, Brahmas, Ramrods and Segundos, none of which were preferred.
They elected the group’s first slate of officers: Pat O’Day, president; Carl Plumb, vice president; Dick Houseworth, treasurer; Dave Hallstrom, secretary; Fred Stresen-Reuter, entertainment & meetings; Rob McCampbell, projects; Paul Engebretsen, membership; Carl Roe, by-laws; Don Chambers, uniforms & awards. Dick Houseworth is our only living Founding member and remains active with us today.
On May 10, 1961 the group officially named themselves the Scottsdale Charros. The Charros would be a special activity affiliate of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce (but remain autonomous) with the goal of promoting sports and sporting events that would draw tourists and entertain residents. That is why the Charros have such a strong tie to the Chamber today.
The Scottsdale Charros insignia, the ‘screaming pheasant’ was approved and remains a sacred logo for all Charro members.
The articles of incorporation for Scottsdale Charros, Inc. as a non-profit corporation were approved January 5 and published February 15 by the State of Arizona.
As 1962 began, the Scottsdale Charros threw their efforts into promoting Boston Red Sox spring training baseball. The Charros painted the entire Scottsdale Ballpark to spruce it up for the BoSox. Working with the Scottsdale Baseball Club, the Scottsdale Charros hosted the Fourth Annual Baseball Old Timers Day Brunch at the Safari Hotel with approximately 345 people attending. Baseball greats on hand were Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller and Sal Maglie.
The Charros also hosted a press party and the BoSox wives were treated to a day at the races, consistent with providing the best Charro hospitality. The Scottsdale Baseball Club was still there, but the Scottsdale Charros were getting their first experience out front providing sweat equity through hundreds of volunteer hours.
The Charros were also lending some personal equity of their own as staging spring training was pretty hand to mouth- the cost of staging spring training far outweighed the revenues generated. Baseball wasn’t a big sport in the 60s, so the Charros had to build momentum in order to sell tickets. Paul Messinger, Life Member, was asked to personally sign a note for $5,000 that was part of a $50,000 guarantee as no one was sure gate receipts would cover the costs.
When the season ended, Charro Patron Dale Anderson told the Charro members that since they had worked so hard all year on baseball, he suggested that they all head for the local hills and go on a trail ride, just for fun. And, head to the hills they did.
On November 15, 1962 approximately 13 Charros and 15 guests went on a four-day trail ride in the McDowell Mountains, departing from Scottsdale Country Club. Promoting camaraderie and true to the town’s “The West’s Most Western Town” slogan, the Ride continues today and many traditions prevail.
One of those traditions, having the wives and/or sweethearts greet the grubby group at trails end, started after the first ride. Apparently, the ASU Women’s Riding Club had pre-selected that same spot and that same weekend for their ride, and the wives and girlfriends weren’t happy that their boys spent a weekend with college coeds. The next year, the cowgirls showed up for their reunion with their cowboy and have done so every year since then.
At the request of the Scottsdale Baseball Club (whose members were mostly retired executives who were eager to turn the spring training/stadium operation over to a younger, more active group), a Charro committee negotiated a contract with the City of Scottsdale regarding use of Scottsdale Stadium for spring training. The contract was in effect during the final season, 1965, for the Boston Red Sox in Scottsdale.
The Charros continued their host role for spring training, with the Cubs through 1978, then negotiated a three-year deal to bring the Oakland A’s to Scottsdale. They also hosted the American Airlines Golf Classic for two years, and supported numerous other youth and community events, either through participation or by donating modest, but welcome, funds.
After negotiating an initial contract, the Scottsdale Charros welcomed the San Francisco Giants to spring training at Scottsdale Stadium.
Already a philanthropic organization, the Scottsdale Charros formalized their giving efforts by incorporating The Scottsdale Charro Community Foundation (now The Charro Foundation). They continued to provide seed money to various Scottsdale groups and events, and began to provide scholarship funds to local high school students.
Initiated by Scottsdale Charro Dr. Dick Collins, the First Annual Scottsdale Charros Outstanding Student Scholarship Award Program was held in the spring at the Sunburst Resort. A male and female student from each of Scottsdale’s (then) four high schools was honored, with parents and Charros in attendance.
Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater appointed the Mayor’s Baseball Committee to study how to keep the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale and how to finance renovation/reconstruction of the aging Scottsdale Stadium. During the late 1980’s, Florida was aggressively seeking additional teams for the Grapefruit League, which, at the time, had 18 teams.
Scottsdale Charro Purd Thomas chaired the Mayor’s committee, which, after meeting for nearly five months, presented its Funding for the new stadium was included in a multi-million dollar capital improvement bond issue presented to Scottsdale voters in November 1989.
At the start of a new decade, the Charros became a more pro-active, visible community organization. Prior to the 1990’s, the group preferred to work behind the scenes. With passage of a bond issue to build a new stadium, continuing desire to keep the San Francisco Giants as Scottsdale Stadium’s spring training team and a goal of making more grants to bolster youth and community organizations, the Charros began to raise their visibility at community events.
The Charros continue to recognize Outstanding students at its annual banquet and vote to also begin to honor and recognize outstanding educators throughout the Scottsdale Unified School Districts. The annual banquet is renamed the Scottsdale Charros Outstanding Student and Educator Awards.
Each year, the Scottsdale Charros celebrate the awards with awards recipients, their friends and their families.
Thanks in large measure to a $50,000 gift from the Scottsdale Charros, a 1950-vintage Allan Herschell carousel was acquired and restored for Scottsdale’s McCormick Stillman Railroad Park. The carousel has proven to be a popular attraction to Valley families.
The group maintains its commitment to the park through grants and sponsorships for educational materials, capital needs and sponsoring the famous McCormick Stillman Holiday Lights festival at the park.
The Scottsdale Charros established its Future Teacher Scholarship, offering two Scottsdale high school seniors pursuing careers in education to opportunity to attend college at an Arizona public university. Later, the organization would focus on providing fully funded fellowships for working Scottsdale Teachers pursuing master’s degrees in education. By 2012, the
Charros will have funded over $600,000 for scholarships and fellowships in education.
Scottsdale Charros, City of Scottsdale and San Francisco Giants announced an agreement to upgrade Scottsdale Stadium and training facilities at a cost of $23.1 million. Approximately $20 million came from Municipal Property Corporation bonds, with $13.3 million funded by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority and $6.7 million through the Maricopa County Stadium District. The remaining $3.1 million was to be raised from the Scottsdale community. The Scottsdale Charros then signed an agreement with the San Francisco Giants to hold spring training at Scottsdale Stadium for 20 more years, or through 2025.
Scottsdale Charros were among the founding sponsors of a special, $1.7 million baseball field for children with special needs in Scottsdale. Named Dan Haren Field, it was a Miracle League of Arizona project, located adjacent to the Cholla Community Special Needs Campus on Via Linda near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. The rubberized field was built to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers; other field amenities facilitated use by children of all abilities.
Hundreds of Actives, Lifer and Grande Charros gathered around camp in the McDowell Mountains to join together as Charros and to celebrate what it means to be a Charro—to relive and retell the stories of Empty Saddle Compadres, compare which Rides were wilder, to boast about the successful philanthropic efforts and to revel in the history sitting around them in young men in their thirties up to proud Charros in their 90s. Only a Charro knows what it really means to be a Charro, and you will get out of it what you put into it. There is a reason why men show up for monthly meetings even though they joined five decades ago. Get to know them, and you will get to know the Charros.
The Scottsdale Charros celebrate their 50th Anniversary by commemorating and reenacting their first ride out of downtown Scottsdale and into the trails of the McDowell Mountains.
Scottsdale Road traffic was halted when dozens of Charros and mounted police escorts made their way from The Pink Pony, where the Charros began, to the McDowell Mountains.
The Charros were asked to produce the first-ever Spring Training Festival to kick off Cactus League spring training for the 15 teams who practice in the Valley. After learning that they could count on funding from the City’s Bed Tax dollars in mid-December 2011, the Charros exceeded all expectations for the two-day event in February, which attracted nearly 18,000 baseball fans and garnered major media coverage across all broadcast mediums. Not bad for nine weeks of really, really hard work.