Friday, November 27, 2009

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #9): Chihuahua, Chihuahua

We’ll be heading east into Mexican League territory for our Road Trip this week. Leaving Mexicali, we’ll retrace our steps on Highway 2 along the Mexico-USA border for 312 miles before heading south on Highway 15 to Hermosillo, another 120 miles. Then, it’s eastbound again on Highway 16 for 347 more miles to Chihuahua, home of the LMB Dorados the past three seasons. In case you’re keeping track, that’s 779 miles total (the longest stretch between cities we’ll have on this trip).

The city of Chihuahua lies about 400 miles south of the USA border in a central location between Mexico’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts. It was founded in 1709 by Spanish explorer Antonio Deza y Ulloa, and was named after a Tarahumara Indian word meaning “between two waters” because it sits between the rivers Sacramento and Chuviscar on the western edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. As you might expect, it’s a dry climate, with about 18 inches of annual rainfall, but the city’s altitude of 4,921 feet keeps the temperatures cooler than the desert floor.

With a 2007 population of about 825,000 residents, Chihuahua is Mexico’s 12th-largest city. While such historic revolutionary figures as Father Miguel Hidalgo, Benito Juarez and Pancho Villa have lived here (Hidalgo as a prisoner), Chihuahua has become a strong industrial city, with 79 maquiladora factories, the most in Mexico. Some of the larger companies in town are Ford, John Deere, Hallmark and LG Electronics. The state of Chihuahua is also Mexico’s largest producer of zinc and second in silver, and also tops the country in both apples and cattle.

Travelers have a number of historic landmarks to explore, including the former homes of both Juarez and Villa, plus a number of museums, parks and monuments. The Plaza Mayor in the city center features green spaces, fountains and a number of monuments, including the Angel of Liberty statue (which has a laser-tipped sword that rotates 360 degrees).

Chihuahua is home to the Dorados, who moved into town from San Luis Potosi in 2007. The city has hosted Mexican League baseball for 14 scattered seasons since 1940, but has never qualified for the playoffs. The Dorados play in the 14,500-seat Estadio Chihuahua, which was built in 2004. However, the team has struggled financially, and rumors have the club being courted by interested parties from the southern Mexico state of Chiapas.

Sunday, December 13 (Stop #10): Torreon, Coahuila

NEXT WEEK ON Baseball Mexico…
An interview with Mexican Pacific League President Omar Canizales

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