Editor’s note: The views in the following commentary are those of Professor Carlos E. Alemán, a sports fan who isn’t a member of our staff. But we liked what he had to say, and we liked how he said it....
Masked fan crusaders have become all the rage around major league ballparks in recent years. Whether on your television or in your seats, you’ve seen fans from all over take on this popular team-branded persona. In fact, if you look up into left field at Chase, you certainly cannot miss the self-proclaimed group of “Kubel-libres,” supportive aficionados of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel wearing lucha libre masks.
What exactly makes this character so appealing in the world of baseball? Maybe it’s the idea of playing “the hero” or representing the “fighter” out on the field or within the fan. Or possibly, it’s just a new version of the rally cap. Whatever it may be that correlates baseball fans to this iconic figure, the Luchador is here to stay.
In fact, last week the D-Backs introduced a Luchador character as an official mascot of the team. Just as the D-Backs Racing Legends are a part of game entertainment, the Luchador will play a very similar role. You will see him pumping up the crowd with his “guns” (biceps) and hopefully using his intimidation factor on opposing teams - only my suggestion. As for D. Baxter the furry mascot, rest assured, he still remains the head honcho of the mascot team.
The craze took life about a year ago when the organization decided to do a mask giveaway to the first 15,000 attendees into the ballpark. Personally, I thought it was one of the most innovating and perceptive marketing decisions for the organization.
The two Los Angeles teams have seen success with the team-branded Lucha Libre masks thus far. Arizona follows the trend, targeting an important fan-base in the community.
According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic or Latino community makes up 30.2% of the total population in Arizona. The game of baseball itself is already highly dense with Latino players; it makes sense to find a range of dynamic ways of getting their supporters in the stands.
However, the D-backs took a step further and found an actual professional wrestler, part of Club Deportivo Coliseo, a family organization who puts on Lucha Libre Mexicana matches every Sunday at the Glendale Swap Meet. I had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of the Luchador’s very first match representing the Diamondbacks. It was evident the amount of passion that filled the room as the crowd cheered “D-Backs, D-Backs,” while he made his grand entrance into the ring.
There is no illusion to the athleticism that this guy possesses. It was certainly a front row seat to a highly entertaining and professional wrestling match. What lies behind the mask is a man passionate for his profession, and prideful of his Mexican heritage. To be able to share his culture and love for the sport on such a grand stage as a professional baseball team is truly a beneficial platform for all.
For the Latino community, we are able to relate to something while you sit in the stands during a game. For children it’s a fun and entertaining way to keep them awake during those all too often extra inning games, plus who doesn’t love a super hero?
Through time I’m sure his role will only grow. Interacting with players is something I look forward to seeing more of, and definitely some high-flying moves during game time are a must. There are various ways to implement this character into the total game experience. And if done right, it will only enhance the brand of the D-Backs.
This is something worth getting excited about. There is an undeniable amount of pride you feel when you see your culture represented well. Although I did not grow up watching Lucha Libre or mimicking the moves of El Santo or Rey Mysterio, there is still is a significant amount of pride felt every time I see the Luchador step into the ballpark.
Saturday at Chase Field, the D-Backs will give away 20,000 Luchador masks, courtesy of Circle K and Univision Arizona, as fans enter Chase Field. If you're in town, get your mask and be a part of something bigger than just the gimmick.