From Los Mochis, Sinaloa, we’ll head north on Highway 15 for 124 miles and come to the fifth stop on our Road Trip: Navojoa, Sonora, home of the Mexican Pacific League Mayos.
The word “navojoa” comes from the Mayo Indian dialect root “navo” (or “prickly pear cactus”) and “jova” (or “house”), therefore meaning “the house of prickly pear cactus.” Even before the Spaniards arrived, the Mayo tribe had possession of the land including the Rio Mayo and the Mayo Valley, where the present-day city of Navojoa (pop. 103,312) now stands.
Although Spanish explorer Diego de Guzman arrived in the area in 1536 and Jesuit missionaries began settling locally in the 17th Century, Navojoa dates back to 1825, when it was part of the old State of the West formed after the Mexican Independence War starting in 1810. Later in 1831, it was separated and became part of the municipality of Alamos. As a result of political reform in 1869, it became a municipality.
Due to its geographical location, Navojoa has been considered from the start as the center of productivity of this region, combining with Ciudad Obregon and the Yaqui Valley to form the Mayo Valley, one of Mexico’s most productive agricultural regions. The most important businesses are concentrated in Navojoa, with the main northbound and southbound state highways and railroads come through this city as well as highways going to Alamos and Yavaros. Progress and modernization have been the result of Navojoa’s strategic location, along with the development of productive activities common to this area. The city has gained in importance over the years due to its relatively close proximity to the coast, desert and mountains, as well as being just 360 miles south of the Arizona border on Highway 16.
Known as “The Pearl of the Mayo”, Navojoa is a city of contrasts. In spite of its modern features, the city has preserved an array of important historical monuments in the area well worth visiting, among them the Municipal Palace, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, sculpted monuments such as one erected in memory of General Alvaro Obregon, a plaza with obelisks in honor of the Talamante brothers. When visiting the restaurants in Navojoa, visitors delight their palates with the most exquisite regional Sonoran dishes, as well as international cuisine.
The Navojoa Mayos started in the Mexican Pacific League in the 1959-60 season and, after a two-year absence between 1960 and 1962, are playing their 46th consecutive year of winter ball. The Mayos won the Mex Pac pennant in 1978-79 under manager Chuck Goggin, a former big league infielder, and with future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson on the roster. Navojoa repeated in 1999-20 for skipper Lorenzo Bundy, a two-time LMP Manager of the Year who spent the 2009 season as a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“The Tribe” plays their home games at Estadio Manuel “Ciclon” Echevarria, an 11,500-seat ballpark named after a Salon de la Fama pitcher born in Navojoa.
NEXT WEEK (Stop #6): Ciudad Obregon, Sonora