Baseball’s global reach crosses oceans and continents to places like England and Australia where Major League games are played. Here at home it doesn’t have far to go to show its influence. In fact, in southern Arizona we see the sport bringing people from across the border together, like at the annual Mexican Baseball Fiesta, a two-week-long, multi-city series featuring some of the most popular Mexican baseball teams.
This year’s Baseball Fiesta series will feature six of the 10 teams that make up the Mexican Pacific League (LMP)– the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Yaquis de Obregón, Águilas de Mexicali, Cañeros de Los Mochis, Tomateros de Culiacán and Mayos de Navajoa. The ninth annual Mexican Baseball Fiesta (MBF) will kick off on September 20 in Las Vegas before moving on to Mesa, Nogales, and ending in Tucson on October 6. But before the series ends in the Old Pueblo, teams will face off in Douglas.
The border town will see teams from Hermosillo and Culiacán face off on October 2 at Copper King Stadium.
Brought together in collaboration with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who helped pay for the field at Copper King Stadium, the baseball fiesta in Douglas will look to draw not only locals who live in the area but fans of the sport and the Mexican teams who will travel across the border, creating a cross-border, bi-national opportunity to boost commerce.
“[Douglas] is in charge of the proceeds as well as the expenses involved. In the past, we have been successful in bringing the community together for a night of baseball, musical entertainment, great food and also we may get mascots, which make the atmosphere even greater,” said Luis Pedroza, Finance Director/City Treasurer for Douglas. “It is hard work putting an event like this together, but we know the community enjoys it and getting to see some famous names out on the field will be fun to see.”
The baseball fiesta was started up in 2011 to help showcase the talent developing in Mexico. Mike Feder, a 30-year minor league general manager (15 years in Tucson) and President of the MBF, started the baseball fiesta with Francisco Gamez, a former LMP baseball player and roster member for the Milwaukee Brewers in the major leagues. For the two operations partners, it’s about seeing the communities come out and enjoy their favorite teams in the way they like to see the games played.
“It’s a big party. The bands are playing, people are dancing in the aisles, the music and the atmosphere is authentic. Even after a double-header, people are staying around dancing and listening to music. That’s what they do in Mexico, so we’re not changing. What we do is all predicated on good taste and we live up to that,” said Feder.
According to Feder and the group overseeing the series, visiting teams and the fans who come to see them are projected to use more than 2,000 hotel rooms while pumping more than $1.5 million into the local economies.
“Fifty percent of the crowd for the Douglas game comes up from Mexico. In Nogales, it’s the same size, at least…People have a connection to these teams beyond the sport. Their grandmother is from Hermosillo, their father grew up cheering for the Yaquis, they lived down there when they were younger, and so on,” said Feder.