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Baseball, Mexican style

By Jose Romero - Sep 21, 2014

The action on the baseball diamond was only part of the show Sunday night in the finale of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta in Phoenix.

Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo were in town, and given Arizona’s proximity to the Mexican state of Sonora, Mexican pro baseball has a nice following in the Desert Southwest.

This was a preseason game for Hermosillo, held at Maryvale Baseball Park, the spring training home of the Milwaukee Brewers. But for Naranjeros fans who love their baseball and live in Arizona, it was a chance to see their team play in person as it tunes up for the Mexican regular season, which starts next month.

The baseball was good, though the Naranjeros struggled against a team of Arizona Diamondbacks minor-league prospects, trailing 7-2 going to the bottom of the eighth inning. Hermosillo committed an error and showed some shaky defense in the early innings, but got a couple of well-turned double plays to prevent further damage for the time being.

The minor-league Diamondbacks’ Socrates Brito was the hitting star, with three hits, two runs batted in and a stolen base in the first four innings. BJ Lopez and Joe Munoz drove in two runs each for Arizona.

Though the Diamondbacks are based in Phoenix with their complex in nearby Scottsdale -- the club smartly used the game as a chance for publicity for the annual Hispanic Heritage Night this coming Saturday at the major-league game – the Naranjeros were clearly the home team.

An estimate put the attendance at around 1,500, many clad in the Hermosillo orange and many of them families. They enjoyed live music in between innings, recorded music in between pitches and Hermosillo’s equivalent of the San Diego Chicken (Google it!), Beto Coyote.

Mexican baseball is a more sensory game experience than in the United States. American ballgames aren’t bombarded with blaring music in between pitches, probably a shock to any player on the field who isn’t used to it.  Fans start their own cheers and bring their own musical instruments and noisemakers.

It made for a fun, family-friendly atmosphere and cultural exchange in largely Latino west Phoenix, exactly what the City of Phoenix and other sponsors of the three-day event hoped for. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Beto, allowed to stand on the field, shimmied and swiveled his hips to the delight of the Naranjeros fans on the first base side, who clapped and cheered him on.  

People danced to a band called “Techno Banda Latino Show” on the concourse and in the seats, enjoying the chance to see a ballgame how they do in Mexico. Former major-league All-Star Mark Grace was introduced; he’s a minor-league coach in the Diamondbacks’ organization and coached third base on Sunday.

The Mexican Baseball Fiesta moves on to El Paso, Texas next weekend, then Tucson Oct. 2-5. In between are stops in two northern Mexican cities.


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