Saturday, December 12, 2009

MEXICAN BASEBALL ROAD TRIP (Stop #11): Monclova, Coahuila

This week, our Road Trip is a fairly short jaunt that takes us from Torreon (home of the Laguna Vaqueros) for about 200 miles northeast on Highway 30 to the city of Monclova, Coahuila, home of the Acereros.

Monclova’s history begins with the first of a number of fitful attempts to establish a town under Spanish rule, first under Don Alberto of Canto in 1577. It was only on the seventh attempt that a permanent town was finally created in 1689. It was granted the title of “city” in 1811 and was actually the state capital of both Coahuila and Texas in 1833. The war against the United States of the 1840s gave Texas and several other present-day states to the USA as American troops occupied Monclova (which was initially an agricultural town) in 1846.

However, like most of the northern cities of the Mexican League, Monclova has become an industrial center that is not geared towards tourism at all. As one might expect of a place whose team name translates to “Steelers,” Monclova is one of the leading steel-producing cities in the Western Hemisphere. With just under 200,000 residents, it is one of the smallest cities in the Liga.

Visitors to Monclova will have to look past the factories to find the two Xochipilli Parks that cover 108 acres in town, and there are also golf courses, museums, discos and bowling alleys for recreational opportunities. Again, this is a city geared towards production, not tourists, so don’t expect the widest of choices for entertainment.

Monclova is home to the Mexican League’s Acereros (or “Steelers”), who just hired Mario Mendoza as their manager after finishing 57-50 in 2009 but missed the playoffs. Despite that, Monclova led the Mexican League in attendance last season with over 430,000 fans in 53 home games for an average of 8,114 per opening.

The Acereros play their home games at the 11,000-seat Estadio Monclova, where attendance is usually in the middle of the LMB pack. The Acereros date back to 1974, when the Sabinas Pirates moved to Monclova to become the Coahuila Miners. The team name was changed to Monclova Acereros in the early 1980s. The Steelers have never won a Liga pennant.

NEXT ROAD TRIP STOP (#12): Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas

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