They weren’t in contention. Again.
And the fans didn’t seem to care.
The Albuquerque Isotopes, who finished the season at 62-86 with a win over visiting El Paso and haven’t finished above .500 since 2013, played the finale in front of an announced crowd of 8,619. That a team that finished the season 22 games out of first place and still drawing those attendance figures might seem strange, if it wasn’t the Isotopes – a franchise that has been established for years as one of the best in Minor League Baseball for attracting fans regardless of on-field performance.
To look back at the 2022 season, one filled with big crowds, record setting numbers on the field and in the stands and plenty of intriguing storylines, we’ll let the numbers (coming into Wednesday’s games) tell the story:
• 7,062: Average official attendance of Isotopes games this season, tops in the Pacific Coast League. Though always among the league leaders in attendance, 2022 is the first time the Isotopes ever led the PCL at season’s end.
• 515,498: The announced total attendance for Isotopes home games this season.
“The fact that over half a million people again have come out, it’s been fantastic,” Isotopes general manager John Traub said. “We didn’t really know what to expect coming in this season. But it’s been good, especially our weekends. Our staff has put in so much time and effort to put together all those theme nights and all those giveaways and all those things that we do, and they really resonate with the public.”
• 15,619: Announced attendance on July 30, the largest announced attendance of any minor league game in the country this season.
In attendance that night were former “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, who teamed up to throw out the first pitch and sang a memorable rendition of “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
• $100,790: Money raised during the Cranston/Paul silent auction at the game of “Breaking Bad” memorabilia, donated to New Mexico’s Veterans Integration Centers and the Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico.
• 240: Home runs hit by the Isotopes (131 at home/109 on the road), a franchise record (previously 212) and the most in MILB this season.
Former New Mexico Lobo D.J. Peterson hit the franchise record-breaking 213th homer Sept. 9.
“It was a fastball,” Peterson said. “I was just trying to get a good pitch in the zone, not necessarily trying to hit a homer … It just happened to go out.”
• 14: Wynton Bernard’s grand slam on Sept. 16 was the 14th for the team, the most ever in MiLB and tied with the 2000 Oakland Athletics and 2006 Cincinnati Reds for most ever in a season by any affiliated pro team.
• 258: Home runs allowed by Isotopes pitchers (141 by starters, 117 by relievers), the most in franchise history. It would have been an MiLB record prior to this year, but the PCL’s Las Vegas Aviators have allowed 265 and the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles 262.
• 1,015: Number of professional games played by Isotopes center fielder Bernard over 11 seasons before getting called up to the majors on Aug. 11 by the Colorado Rockies. The tearful Facetime video call the now 32-year-old Bernard (he was 31 at the time) made to his mother in California had more than 1 million views on various social media outlets.
Said Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer of the emotional clubhouse scene when Bernard was told: “What I saw today made this the best day of my coaching career. … To see grown men cry — men who have children — to hear that Wynton Bernard is called up and to see tears flow in a locker room by Wynton and his teammates … That’s just special, man.”
• 0: Number of hills that will be in center field next season at Isotopes Park. The iconic hill that has been present since Opening Day 2003 is being removed at the behest of Major League Baseball. It is the last such hill in the playing field of any stadium in the majors or minors.
Recent Isotopes Double-A call up Tyler Hill hit his first Triple-A home run in the fifth inning on Wednesday, adding to Hill Night.
• 188: Days until the Isotopes’ 2023 home opener against Salt Lake.
‘TOPES TODAY: Season is over
WEDNESDAY: As one hill departs, another arrives. Recent Double-A call-up Tyler Hill hit his first Triple-A home run and added a triple to lead the Isotopes to a season-ending 4-3 victory over the PCL East Division champion El Paso Chihuahuas in the last game Isotopes Park will feature its iconic hill in center field.
The Isotopes finish the season 62-86. Wednesday’s announced crowd was 8,619 and the team led the PCL in attendance this season.