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Dukes memories abound on Retro Night

OK, everyone, it’s time for the throw-everyone-under-the-bus edition of this minor league baseball season.

For today’s purposes only, imagine there is no Isotopes Park, or Albuquerque Isotopes.

There is only the Albuquerque Sports Stadium, and the Albuquerque Dukes.

Picture lava rocks beyond the wall, not a berm in center field.

Envision a drive-in area beyond the rocks, not a picnic pavilion.

And there is (gulp) only one real concession stand in the entire stadium.

Ah, retro heaven.

Dukes Retro Night brought out an announced crowd of 12,856 fans who watched Albuquerque beat the Sacramento River Cats, 9-6, on Saturday night.

The home team’s uniforms were mustard yellow with red numbers, that familiar Dukes logo emblazoned on the hats, and the scoreboard welcomed fans to the Sports Stadium, and the public address system played that familiar Dukes jingle just prior to first pitch.

Which brings us to today ‘s pop quiz.

The Journal endeavored to find one person in the entire stadium Saturday night who could remember all the lyrics of the catchy tune that was played before the national anthem when the Dukes were in Albuquerque.

True, it’s been 15 years since the last official Dukes game, but surely somebody knows all the words. Right?

Wrong. At least among our small sample size of 30 to 40 fans and, ahem, “experts.”

GIVE A LISTEN: Click here to view a YouTube video with that former Dukes jingle.

Shawn Green of Albuquerque was one of the first to step up. He was confident he knew.

And he got closer than anyone, so today he is our star of the game.

“The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’, hustlin’ all the way,” he began, promisingly. “The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’, action on every play! The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’ … ”

He paused. Brain freeze. Alas, he was done.

“I’m drawing a blank,” Green said. The baffled look on his face was priceless.

He was given the next line in the song – “hittin’ ’em over the wall” – by a reporter who had the lyrics written down in a notebook.

“That’s the one!” he said, throwing his head back.

Oh well, Shawn.

Bzzzzzz!

Don Sauer is the former organist at the Sports Stadium. He’d probably know, yes?

“I only listened to it every (home) game for 14 years,” he said with a smile.

But alas, Don couldn’t summon the lyrics.

Sorry, no special treatment today, Mr. Music.

Bzzzzzz!

A local man named Jerry Starr said, “I sang that song so many times when it was on TV.”

Great! So let’s hear it!

“Nope,” he said. “I can’t remember.”

Bzzzzzz!

We ran across now-retired and longtime Albuquerque TV news anchor Dick Knipfing. He was a good sport and gave it a go.

“The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’ … ”

He shook his head.

That’s a shame, Dick.

Bzzzzzz!

A very nice lady under an umbrella along the first-base line thought she had a bead on it. And she got about halfway through before she stumbled.

Nice attempt, ma’am!

Bzzzzzz!

Erik Armijo, like many fans outfitted in a Dukes hat Saturday night, asked for a moment or two to collect himself so he could dig into the memory banks.

Then he started.

And then he stopped. He didn’t get very far.

“Action on every play,” he was told.

“Action on every play!” He laughed. A good contestant.

Bzzzzzz!

The fans shouldn’t take this too hard.

In the upper reaches of the Sports Stadium, where there are plenty of educated folk you think would remember, the batting average was a collective .000.

“The Dukes are comin’ up, comin’ up swingin’ …” a sportswriter from Santa Fe enthusiastically began.

Bzzzzzzz!

Stu Walker, the familiar PA voice of the Lobos and also at the Sports Stadium, was next to try.

“The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’,” Walker began.

So far, so good.

Then silence and confusion. He was unsure what came next.

Bzzzzzzz!

The longtime official scorer of the Dukes, Gary Herron, who is arguably Albuquerque’s most knowledgeable baseball historian, was only too happy to step up and belt out those lyrics.

“The Dukes are comin’ up, comin’ up swingin’ …”

Bzzzzzzz!

(For the record, the Journal‘s faithful Dukes correspondent for the day couldn’t get it right, either. It is comin’ “out” swingin’, not “up.”)

And now, baseball fans, here are the actual lyrics:

“The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’

Hustlin’ all the way

The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’

Action on every play

The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’

Hittin’ ’em over the wall

The Dukes are comin’ out, comin’ out swingin’

Come on Dukes! (crack of a bat) Play ball!”

At the end, we sought out Terry McDermott, a former Dukes player and local sportscaster. He introduced the Albuquerque Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Charlie Manuel, on Saturday night.

Surely McDermott must know.

“When I played,” McDermott said, “they didn’t have a song.”

Still, he was a trooper. He gave it a shot.

“The Dukes are comin’ up … ”

BZZZZZZ!

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