ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — How does the ballpark at Fort Marcy, home of the mighty Santa Fe Fuego of the Pecos League, stack up?
A fun website called Stadium Journey provides ratings of sports venues around the United States and the world. You have to be impressed that the same site that offers information on Yankee Stadium and Manchester United’s Old Trafford in England now tells readers about the ambiance at the Fuego’s humble stomping grounds.
Member/correspondent Bill Schum gives Fort Marcy an overall “Fanfare Score” of 2.9 stars out of a possible five.
He describes the Pecos League’s condensed season, through July, “which means you can’t catch a Fuego game AND the annual September burning of Zozobra.”
“If you set your expectations accordingly, you should have a pleasant time watching these under-25 guys earning $50 a week try to prove themselves and catch on with an MLB organization.”
Food and drink at Fuego games gets only 2 stars. “Hey, it’s New Mexico – you can get green chile on your dog!” Schum exclaims. He notes the availability of local beer at the park but otherwise advises that “you might want to bring your own sustenance (like peanuts).”
(At least the review comes after the city dumped the fenced-in “beer jail” for those enjoying a Santa Fe Pale Ale.)
“It’s a little tough to rate the atmosphere,” the review continues. “On one hand, the mountain views, open seating, ability to sit close, and community park surroundings are very nice. On the other hand, it does have the feel of a high school game with its concrete tiers for seating and bare-bones infrastructure.”
Schum likes the location on the edge of downtown Santa Fe.
“There are endless choices for food and beverage. You can hit up an old saloon on Palace Avenue or a rooftop cantina on Water Street. With most games starting at 6 p.m., you have plenty of time to take advantage of happy hour before first pitch and still catch a late dinner after the game. My wife, the chef, recommends the fish tacos at Coyote Café.”
And he seemed to enjoy the Fuego’s small band of followers:
“The Fuego boast a surprisingly die-hard group of local fans, quite possibly the host families of the players. With no major sports anywhere nearby, the fan base, while small, is knowledgeable. Games at altitude with short fences can last upwards of four hours, but the fans are resolute with their camp chairs and obvious community pride.”
Schum concludes that Fuego games are a good “return on investment.”
“Six bucks gets you through the gate and you can sit anywhere you want, even directly behind home plate. Although, you might have to battle the opposing team’s resting pitchers as they want the prime seats to track pitches with a radar gun and tablet.”
“Regardless, you’re sure to get a good seat, good weather, plenty of offense, some spotty base running, and, best of all, competitive baseball for about $1/hour.”
The low minors on TV
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a six-episode reality show on the Pecos League. It’s been airing on Fox Sports 1 and chronicles the trials and tribulations of the players as they move around from Trinidad, Colo., to Taos.
Minorleagueball.com says the series “has everything you would expect from an independent baseball league in which players make $50.00 a week – a website that appears to have been designed in 1999, crazy team names (Las Vegas Train Robbers, Roswell Invaders), communal living, rivalries, financial hardship, camaraderie and big dreams.”