Clovis gets taste of Pecos League action

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Roswell second baseman Clint Stottlemeyre makes the catch on a pop-up by Ruidoso’s Chris Davis to end the third inning.

Dave Wagner

Clovis nearly had a Class A minor league team this year. Thursday night, the city was exposed to what it might see in the fledgling Pecos League.

The league-leading Roswell Invaders rallied from a pair of deficits to clip the third-place Ruidoso Osos 10-8 before a paid crowd of 197 at Harris Field. Right after the game, the teams left for an overnight drive and another matchup tonight in Pueblo, Colo.

League commissioner Andrew Dunn said Clovis has some obstacles to overcome if it wants to have a team next season, but he was relatively impressed.

“Without knowing the interest, I think it was OK,” said Dunn, who was happy with the turnout. “It needs some seating and there’s no concession stand, but there’s things we can work with.”

He said among the main issues which have kept the city from having a team are the availability of hotel accommodations and the lack of ability to sell beer at the games.

Currently, there are six teams in the league, which began its 68-game season in May and wraps up with a four-team playoff in mid-August. Other squads are located in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Alpine, Texas.

Dunn said his hope for next year is to have between six and 12 teams.

“If it makes sense (next year), we’ll be here,” he said. “But it’s got to make sense.”

Ruidoso was awarded its franchise after the Clovis bid fell through. Osos general manager Billy Page, whose team has gone 26-4 at home this year and gave up a home game for Thursday’s event, said the organizational part is the biggest headache — arranging sponsors, getting workers and the like.

“I think all in all, it’s been OK,” said Page, a longtime teacher and coach at Ruidoso High School and currently at Carrizozo. “You need to get started early, though, not two weeks before the season starts.

“The idea is to get some more teams in the league and keep the league alive. We wanted to give Clovis a taste of what they missed this year.”

The league is the lowest level of Class A baseball, but Dunn pointed out that more than 30 of its players have already advanced to higher levels. Teams’ payrolls are from $1,250 to $2,750 a week, or roughly $50-200 per player, he said.

Bill Bizzell, the city parks and recreation director, said he would like to see Clovis get a team. Dunn is scheduled to return in September to meet with Bizzell, mayor Gayla Brumfield and city manager Joe Thomas.

“He’s going to give us a strategy on what we can do to make this work,” Bizzell said. “The main thing is alcohol sales. There would have to be some kind of process where you go through the city” to be able to do it.