Friday, December 4, 2015

NEW SALON SITE, FACILITY APPROVED

Four years after the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery booted the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame from their grounds in Monterrey, the issue of where the pantheon would resettle has finally been solved.

The Mexican League website recently announced that a new Salon de la Fama will be erected at Monterrey's Fundidora Park.  An agreement states the Salon will largely by funded by Mexico City Red Devils owner Alfredo Harp Helu, who said that while sites in Mexico City and Oaxaca had also been considered, it was decided to keep the museum in Monterrey.  At the signing, Harp called it "a day of celebration for baseball in our country."  Thanking Harp for his role in bringing the facility back to a new life and keeping it in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon governor Jaime Rodriguez Calderon added, "We must recognize the great men and glories of baseball here."  Other dignitaries in attendance were Mexican League president Plinio Escalante, Mexican Pacific League leader Omar Canizales and Salon de la Fama director Francisco Padilla Davila.

According to architect Daniel Lopez Salgado, the new Salon de la Fama will feature domes and be split into three major areas:  a large room for both temporary and permanent displays, interactive rooms featuring a Mexican baseball time tunnel and an archive room.  There will also be an auditorium and batting cages, with underground parking beneath the entire facility.  No projected completion date has been given.

The Salon de la Fama has existed in some form since 1939, but it was not until 1973 that the original permanent museum in Monterrey opened to the public and remained open until the brewery closed it down 38 years later.  All display items have been kept boxed in storage since.

LMP ATTENDANCE OFF TO STRONG START

More people than ever are attending games south of the border, where average attendance at Mexican Pacific League ballparks is higher than any summer minor league.

Through Thursday night's games, the MexPac has drawn 1,785,913 spectators to 183 games for an average of 9,759 turnstile clicks per opening.  In comparison, the International League's Charlotte Knights led all affiliated minor league teams in attendance average last summer at 9,428 while the IL led all minor leagues in 2015 with an average of 7,199 per game.

One reason for the uptick in MexPac is Culiacan's new ballpark, the 19,200-seat Estadio BBVA Bancomer (above), where an average of 16,742 fans have attended 25 Tomateros games.  Two other teams are averaging over ten thousand attendees:  Mexicali is bringing in 12,972 while Hermosillo welcomes 10,809 per night. Navojoa, which has long had problems bringing people out to the ballpark, is averaging 5,199.

Last winter, the LMP drew a total of 2,194,499 during the regular season for an average of 8,068 per contest, a 22 percent increase over 2013-14.  The postseason was boffo at MexPac box offices, as another 465,683 poured through the gates for an average of 13,305 for 35 playoff games to bring the grand total to 2,660,182 for the entire season for an average of 8,665.

NARANJEROS SWEEP MOCHIS SERIES

After a tepid (at best) first half, the Hermosillo Naranjeros have shown much more life since Enrique "Che" Reyes replaced Lorenzo Bundy as manager nearly two weeks ago after Bundy bolted for a similar post in Navojoa.  That Reyes has woken up the somnambulant club was evident when the Orangemen swept a three-game series at home over the Los Mochis Caneros, who'd been sitting atop the Mexican Pacific League standings heading into the set.

The Naranjeros completed the sweep Thursday with a 3-2 win over the Caneros in front of 7,283 onlookers at Estadio Sonora.  The contest was tied 2-2 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning when Hermosillo's Sebastian Elizalde (above) scored the winning run in a fashion that would make Cool Papa Bell proud: After singling up the middle off Los Mochis reliever Thomas Melgarejo to open the frame and staying put when Pete O'Brien Jr. flew out to right field, Elizalde advanced to second on a wild pitch by Isaac Jimenez (who had relieved Melgarejo) before motoring home on J.C. Linares' pop-up single just beyond the grasp of Los Mochis shortstop Emmanuel Avila.  No word on whether Jimenez was treated for whiplash after the play.

Hermosillo got off to a middling start under Reyes, who took the reins November 24, before the Caneros came to town Tuesday.  While the Naranjeros' 6-5-1 record isn't imposing, their pitching and defense have tightened up by allowing just 19 runs in their past nine game as the Caneros scored just three times in the series.  As a result, the same team that had an entirely forgettable first half is now 1.5 games out of first behind 8-4 Navojoa and a half-game back of 7-5 Los Mochis as only 2.5 games separate the top seven teams in the standings.  The Mazatlan Venados bring up the rear at 3-9 heading into this weekend's schedule.