Semipro ball strikes out

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County > Officials balk on Pecos League pitch for a team

By Mike Cote

 The prospects of Los Alamos hosting a semiprofessional baseball team for the 2014 season appear to have whiffed.

Andrew Dunn, president of the Pecos League, an independent baseball league with six clubs in New Mexico, told the Los Alamos Monitor Tuesday he’d received an email from Los Alamos County that it would not be interested in housing a team here.

The Pecos League, which has eight teams under its umbrella, including teams from Taos, Santa Fe and Las Vegas, had expressed interest in Los Alamos as a potential site for a proposed ninth team, as it geographically it would’ve been a good fit with the teams in northern New Mexico.

Dunn sent an email to several local contacts last month trying to assess the interest Los Alamos might have in the league. Los Alamos County Council Chair Geoff Rodgers got back to Dunn saying county officials would certainly look into the prospect.

However, Dunn received an email earlier this month from deputy county manager Brian Bosshardt saying thanks but no thanks.

“We have had internal discussions here at the county and don’t believe we are prepared to advance with the idea of locating a team in Los Alamos at this time,” Bosshardt said in his email, that Dunn shared with the Los Alamos Monitor. “We do appreciate you reaching out and your consideration of Los Alamos.”

Los Alamos County maintains Bomber Field, the logical site to host any potential semipro baseball games, which is used by local amateur teams and as the home field of the Hilltopper varsity team.

Bosshardt said he and other county officials did discuss the possibility of hosting a team but it didn’t appear to be economically or logistically feasible right now.

“Getting the league set up and the maintenance of the ballfield set up, I think there would’ve been additional needs,” Bosshardt said in an interview. “Budget-wise, we’ve had to cut our 2013 budget and we’ve had reductions in 2014 services...timing-wise, we didn’t think it would make sense.”

The initial response Dunn got to his email in mid-July from Rodgers seemed at least somewhat encouraging to him and he expressed surprise that talks with the county didn’t go any further.

“It’s kind of frustrating, but it’s not meant to be,” Dunn said. “We’re just going to move forward with what we’re doing, but the places that make sense to go to don’t want us, or we can’t make them work.”

The Pecos League is headquartered in Houston but the vast majority of its on-field action occurs in New Mexico.

Los Alamos was the league’s first choice for expansion, but it also put some effort into getting something working with the city of Pueblo, Colo., as well – one of the league’s current teams is in Trinidad.

Unless another site can be found, the league will play 2014 with the current eight teams and, unfortunately for one of the five teams based north of Roswell, it will have to play in a division with Roswell, Alamogordo and Alpine, Texas.

With nine teams, the plan for the league was to have three divisions of three teams each – the Los Alamos team likely would’ve been in a division with Santa Fe and either Las Vegas or Taos.

Taos, which was relegated to “traveling” status in 2013, has agreed to set up its field with lights for the 2014 season and get on a regular schedule – it had just 15 of its 70 games in 2013 at home.

Dunn said Taos has gotten behind its club, the Blizzard, enthusiastically despite its trials during its first season with the league, and that he was hoping he’d get a similar reaction from Los Alamos.

“I’m really surprised with the response from Los Alamos,” Dunn said. “No other place we’ve contacted has ever just said, ‘nah, we’re not interested.’ I wanted to get either Los Alamos or Pueblo, one of the two, but I got nothing. But it is what it is.”