Friday, October 23, 2009

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #4): Los Mochis, Sinaloa

Heading 172 miles north from Guasave on Highway 15 in Sinaloa, our Mexican Baseball Road Trip takes us into Los Mochis, a city of 350,000 residents founded in 1893 by Pennsylvanian Benjamin Johnson. While it is a wealthy city in a fertile agricultural area, Mochis (like most MexPac cities) is not geared towards tourism. It is a hub of sorts, as it is connected by ferry to La Paz, Baja California Sur; has a busy airport with flights to and from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson; and is the western terminus of the legendary Copper Canyon railroad, Mexico’s last major passenger railway featuring one of the most spectacular views in North American train travel.

Los Mochis sits on the Rio Fuerte, which irrigates an extensive valley region whose main crops are vegetables (such as beans and corn) and sugar cane and for which Los Mochis is the commercial and financial center. The city sits 15 miles from the Pacific Mexican port of Topolobampo, which is famous for its shrimp and fishing activity. One of the native animals is the yellow crocodile, which can grow as large as 38.8 feet and weigh over a ton.

As mentioned, Los Mochis is considered a stopover for travelers, not a destination. Visitors to town should check out Parque Sinaloa, which contains the most complete collection of palm trees in Mexico (including rare species imported from around the world) and is a great setting for a stroll in the cool of the evening. Parque Sinaloa is set in the old “Colonia Americana” section of Los Mochis, a former residential district for North Americans easily identified by its typical USA-style architecture featuring brick houses with front porches and yards on all four sides which give a unique character to Los Mochis unlike anywhere else in Mexico.

The Los Mochis Caneros (or “Cane Growers”) entered the Mexican Pacific League in 1962, and are currently playing their 48th winter of pro ball. The Caneros play their home games at Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada, which seats 11,000 fans. While the team is not usually one of the prime contenders for a Mex Pac title, Mochis has won LMP pennants in 1968-69 under manager Ben Valenzuela, 1983-84 under Vinicio Garcia and in 2002-03 for Juan F. Rodriguez. In two Caribbean Series, the Caneros have gone 4-8 over 12 games with second and fourth place finishes.

NEXT WEEK: Navojoa, Sonora

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