The field where they used to hunt for lizards, chase rabbits and shoot BB guns had been transformed into a modern professional baseball field. The stadium’s first game had begun before a crowd of more than 13,000, including Ross Lovato, a 19-year-old fan from Belen. It was one of the largest crowds to ever see a baseball game in Albuquerque history.
Adding more excitement to an already exciting day, Willie Mays and his San Francisco Giants were playing the Cleveland Indians in an exhibition game. In fact, the great Willie Mays was to have the distinction of being the first player to bat at the new stadium.
It was a beautiful day. After Willie, the “Say Hey Kid,” played the outfield and batted three times, he declared that the new stadium was “the greatest minor league ball park I’ve ever played in.”
His teammates, including a future Hall of Fame slugger named Willie McCovey, agreed. What could ever go wrong at such a remarkable place at such a historical event?