Host families, ballpark schedules on baseball meeting agenda

Kevin Wilson

The Pecos League has found a pair of home ballparks in Clovis. They’re hoping their players can find some homes as well.

Host families, ballpark schedules and numerous other issues will be discussed 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Parks and Recreation Department building at 500 Sycamore.

The Pioneers will play the 2011 season at Bell Park, though Commissioner Andrew Dunn said Mike Harris Field may be used at some point during the 74-game season. Teams will be finalized in January for the season, which runs May through August.

John Harris, a Clovis native who will be the Pioneers manager, had spoken with Dunn before about managing in the Pecos League. But the 1973 Clovis High grad admitted he got excited when he heard about an opportunity to manage here.

“I never thought Clovis would have baseball, being the football town that it is,” Harris said. “I’m really excited, I think people are going to enjoy it. We’ve just got to put a quality product out on the field.”

Harris said one of the biggest obstacles may be finding enough host families. He noted the players won’t make much money at the rookie-level league, and host families are a big help at the minor and independent leagues.

City Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said nobody has contacted him yet wanting to be a host family, and he doesn’t know what to expect regarding attendance at Wednesday’s meeting. He has, however, received calls about tryout information, which he expects will be answered at the meeting.

Harris, who played nine years in professional baseball with the California Angels, Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers organizations, coached at Texas Tech and decided to get into independent leagues in the 1990s.

“You try to get young kids that still have a chance to get picked up,” said Harris, with recent stops including Amarillo and Sioux Falls, S.D. “It gives kids a chance who maybe got overlooked in the draft.

“I went through it growing up in New Mexico; you’re not seen a lot. It gives a kid a chance to play a little more and see what happens.”

Other potential sites in New Mexico include Las Cruces, Alamogordo, and Roswell and Texas sites include Del Rio, Alpine and El Paso. The league will be eight teams, and Dunn said he would add or subtract Carlsbad or Odessa-based travel teams (which spend more than half of their schedule on the road) as needed.

The Pecos Baseball League will feature 22-man rosters with no designated hitter. Teams will play four-game home stands Wednesday through Saturday, three-game home stands Sunday through Tuesday, and exhibition games on Monday or Tuesday as needed.

The time was originally 11 a.m. for the meeting, but Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn said there is a bid going on for a lease at Potter County Memorial Stadium. He’ll be spending Wednesday morning making a pitch to land the lease and field a team there.

Potter County put the lease out for bid after the group that owned the Amarillo Dillas, the previous tenant, failed to pay its rent for the year. The Dillas made an independent bid and are one of four bidders for the lease, along with the Pecos League.