Baseball, hot dogs and beer.
That, according to David Coss, is an American past time, and Santa Fe’s mayor is relearning to love it in his own backyard.
He spent Tuesday night at Fort Marcy Ballpark, taking in the penultimate home game of the Pecos League’s newest addition, the Santa Fe Fuego, with his some of his family. Coss foresees many more summers like this, as the Fuego make their imprint on the City Different.
The team’s last home game is Wednesday against the Roswell Invaders and the Fuego end the season on the road at Trinidad. On Tuesday, the Fuego split two games with the Invaders, winning 7-1 to complete Sunday’s suspended game before losing 5-4 in the regularly scheduled game.
“We’re changing back to what used to occur here about 45 years ago,” Coss said, alluding to the days when fans ventured to the park to watch baseball games. “I think it has been successful for the team here and and I think it will be successful for the city.”
The season has had some bumps in the road — four hour-long games led to 6 p.m. start times just days into the season and the changing of beer vendors before the season began were a few of the hiccups that occurred this season, along with sub-par play from the 21-44 Fuego — but Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn has seen enough pluses during the season for a second year.
“As a league, we couldn’t be happier,” Dunn said.
Much of that might have to do with Santa Fe leading the league in attendance, according to Dunn.
It was apparent that curiosity spread through the town on opening night when 1,150 paying customers showed up and dozens more watched from the fences that line left and right fields.
Dunn said attendance averaged out to about 600 people a game.
Santa Fe City Counciler Ronald Trujillo said most games average around 200-300. Trujillo, who was one of the advocates to bring an independent team to the city, feels the first season has exceeded expectations.
“The people who have come here, day-in and day-out, have enjoyed themselves immensely,” Trujillo said. “When I first wanted to bring this team here, I wanted it to be an alternative for people to have, and it has lived up to that. I myself am already wondering, ‘What am I going to do next week?’ ”
One of the concerns that circulated since Dunn announced he wanted to start a team in Santa Fe was the effects of selling alcohol at games. But Dunn, Trujillo and Coss all said they haven’t heard about any alcohol-related incidents.
Trujillo said the only neighborhood complaint he received was about the noise from the public address system at night, which was fixed by telling the announcer to turn down the volume.
Coss said he received more critical responses before the season than he has since play started in May.
“How many irate emails and phone calls did I get before the season?” Coss said. “I got a ton before the games started. And I haven’t received any since then.”
But there are still some issues that need to be ironed out. Dunn and Moore both identified the long grass in the infield and outfield that needs more manicuring. Moore pointed to several places where baseballs have disappeared during games, including by the backstop and in the area between the pitcher’s mound and second base.
“The grounds crew worked very hard, but I hope they learned some stuff this season that will make them better,” Moore said. “Heck, I wish I could spend the offseason here to get the field ready for next season.”
Dunn wants to work on eliminating the vantage points down the left- and right-field lines where people pretty much can watch the game for free.
“If we can seal off the park to control the fan flow, that would be great,” Dunn said. “I told many people this from the start that Fort Marcy Park is a great place to go out and watch a game.”
Contact James Barron at 986-3045 or email@example.com.