More than 15K flock to Isotopes Park for Cranston, Paul appearance - Albuquerque Journal

More than 15K flock to Isotopes Park for Cranston, Paul appearance

Fittingly, Jesse Pinkman’s first pitch before Saturday night’s Albuquerque Isotopes game was high.

And, as his former high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin Walter White hauled in the pitch from behind the plate, it was clear to an announced crowd of 15,619 fans – the largest attended Minor League Baseball game in the country in 2022 – that Albuquerque is still addicted to “Breaking Bad.”

Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston – the actors who portrayed the lead characters of the critically acclaimed smash hit “Breaking Bad” from 2008 to 2013 – made a return to Isotopes Park on Saturday for a charity auction and to promote the Dos Hombres mezcal the two co-own and is now available at the stadium.

But, as Cranston told fans after a crowd-pleasing seventh-inning rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, one of the main reasons the two wanted to have a night at the ballpark was to show love to the city that not only served as home for their show but for the now wildly popular “Better Call Saul,” which has just three episodes remaining before it also wraps up.

“Thanks for 15 great years of being our host,” Cranston told fans. “We love you very much. We love this city. We love you guys. Play ball!”

The Isotopes, donning their Green Chile Cheeseburgers alter-ego uniforms on a fireworks night game sponsored by Blakes, fell to the visiting Las Vegas Aviators, 12-7, but the game itself seemed secondary on the night.

The in-person silent auction of items donated by Paul and Cranston related to the show earned a reported $100,790 with all proceeds to be split between the New Mexico Veterans Integration Centers and the Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico.

The members of the Rozycki family of Pittsburgh said they weren’t planning on spending that much on their summer trip to New Mexico, but as huge fans of the shows, couldn’t resist bidding on some of the auction items, including a pair of skull-tip boots worn by one of the Salamanca cousins in both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.” The Isotopes reported the top bids of several items, including the boots having a winning bid of $10,600.

“We were planning this trip anyway,” said Donna Rozycki. “But when we found out this was happening when we were here, of course we were coming.”

Husband Raymond Rozycki noted that on top of the fandom of the show, the money “was for a good cause,” making it easier to spend.

While some have criticized the idolizing of the characters Cranston and Paul portrayed in the shows – two men who fall deep into the world of murder and drug trafficking – others note the show not only brought in millions to the state and established New Mexico as a hotbed for the film industry, but also often portrayed Albuquerque in a positive, culturally rich light.

“It was never really about a representation of glorifying meth, but about showing off our state,” said 25-year-old Calgary Maez, who was standing in line for the in-game auction in a Breaking Bad shirt.

EL CAMINO: Even before the guests of honor arrived at the ballpark Saturday, two black 1981 El Caminos were there waiting, parked at the Southwest corner of Avenida Cesar Chavez and University, welcoming fans to the Rio Grande Credit Union Field.

One of the El Caminos was used in the final episode of Breaking Bad in 2013 driven to freedom by Pinkman and later bought on an eBay auction by Daniel Rearick of southeast Ohio.

“I usually show it at car club shows around the Fourth of July,” Rearick said. “But when I heard about this, I made the 22-hour drive here to be a part of this.”

The Ohio license plate on the El Camino reads “Felina,” which was the name of the final episode of the show.

But that car had manual transmission, and Paul couldn’t drive a stick. So when the 2019 Breaking Bad movie “El Camino” was filmed, they bought another version that was automatic.

That car, owned by photographer Gary Marsh, who worked on behind the scenes projects for the show from 2008-2013 and who once owned both El Caminos, was also at the park on Saturday.


‘TOPES SUNDAY: vs. Las Vegas, 6:05 p.m., Isotopes Park, 610 AM/95.9 FM

PROMOTION: Tin lunch box giveaway

PROBABLES: Aviators LHP Jared Koenig (4-3. 3.57) vs. Isotopes RHP Karl Kauffman (2-0, 2.63)

SATURDAY: The Las Vegas Aviators had 17 hits, including five home runs, and beat the Isotopes 12-7 at Isotopes Park on a night with the highest announced attendance (15,619) of any Minor League Baseball game in the country this year.

It was also the ninth-largest announced attendance in Isotopes Park history.

Bret Boswell was 4-for-5 at the plate for the home team, including his eighth home run.

BOX SCORE: Aviators 12, Isotopes 7

STANDINGS: Pacific Coast League

John Knauer, “Almost Walter White,” stands next to the El Camino used in the final episode of “Breaking Bad” prior to Saturday night’s Las Vegas-Albuquerque game at Isotopes Park. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)
Aaron Paul throws out the pregame first pitch to Bryan Cranston as the two “Breaking Bad” stars made an appearance Saturday night at Isotopes Park for the Albuquerque Isotpes game. A minor league baseball season-high crowd turned out. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
“Breaking Bad” actors Bryan Cranston (left) and Aaron Paul wave to fans before the Albuquerque Isotopes take on the Las Vegas Aviators at the Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park Saturday night. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
Albuquerque’s Alan Trejo takes a cut during Saturday night’s game. The Isotopes played as one of their alter egos, the Green Chile Cheeseburgers, and got fried 12-7 by Las Vegas on Saturday. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
Actor Bryan Cranston greets Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer prior to Saturday’s game at Isotopes Park. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
Aaron Paul waves to fans before the Albuquerque Isotopes take on the Las Vegas Aviators. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
Bryan Cranston smiles at the cheering crowd before the host Albuquerque Isotopes took on Las Vegas Saturday night at Isotopes Park. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
“Breaking Bad” stars Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh inning Saturday night at Isotopes Park. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
Bryan Cranston smiles at the cheering crowd before the host Albuquerque Isotopes took on Las Vegas Saturday night at Isotopes Park. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
“Breaking Bad” actor Aaron Paul waves to the crowd at Saturday night’s Isotopes game. (Chancey Bush/Journal)
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