Around town, baseball fans persistently ask John Traub if there ever is another major league baseball exhibition game in Albuquerque’s future.
Now, the Isotopes general manager can answer, with specificity, yes.
On Monday, March 25, the Triple-A Isotopes will host their parent club, the Colorado Rockies, in a 1:05 p.m. contest. Traub made the announcement in tandem with Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich Thursday at Isotopes Park.
Tickets will range from $23-$35 and will go on sale Feb. 1 to the general public. Isotopes season-ticket holders and buyers of their various flex ticket packages will have earlier priority.
While it’s never easy to get a big-league team in town – it’s previously happened only in three of the Isotopes’ 16 years as a franchise – the synergy between the Rockies and Isotopes is producing fruit. The Rockies and Isotopes enter their fifth year of partnership in 2019, and Traub says he sees it extending “for a long time.”
“Even though we’re not technically a part of their organization from an ownership standpoint,” Traub said of the Rockies, “they make us feel like family.”
In that context, it’s like the son has been hitting up the folks for a favor. “Yeah, you were a pest,” Bridich said to Traub during the announcement.
And yet Bridich was the one to contact the Isotopes in July, saying he thought there is a window next spring to come here. Bridich and Rockies owner Dick Monfort soon met Traub and Isotopes president Ken Young in Denver to work out the logistics.
“As long as the weather cooperates,” Bridich said, wistfully.
He added, “Our first game (in Denver this past season) was 32 degrees and snow. … We’re going to make this work.”
After breaking camp in Arizona, the Rockies will get into Albuquerque that Monday morning with its 25-man roster and a few more, Bridich said. After the game, they’ll fly on to Miami, where they open the 2019 season on March 28 against the Marlins. A March 26 exhibition game listed on the Rockies website against Minnesota will not involve top-level players.
The Isotopes, meanwhile, then will have over a week before their April 4 home and season opener against Salt Lake. There’s no word yet on whether the club will stay in town or perhaps return to Arizona for extended spring training.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller also stopped by to remind those at Tuesday’s presser of the relationship between the city and the Isotopes, who lease the city-owned ballpark, and to plug for the soccer coming to the facility. Mexican League teams Club Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL play a friendly on Nov. 14 at Isotopes Park, which also will be the home stadium for the New Mexico team entering the United Soccer League in March.
The 2004 Albuquerque Isotopes hosted their then-parent and World Series champion Florida Marlins for an exhibition game, and it was in weather Bridich would rather avoid – cold, and wet. The conditions were better when the Texas Rangers came in 2005 to play a game against the Rockies and one against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then in 2010, the Rockies played Seattle here.
The March 25 exhibition will be close to the 50th anniversary of the March 31, 1969, exhibition at the Albuquerque Sports Stadium between the San Francisco Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who died on Wednesday at age 80, homered in that game.