Baseball, beer and politics.

That has been the formula the burgeoning independent Pecos League has adopted to maintain its existence. From Alpine, Texas, to Trinidad, Colo., it seems that all three elements have gone hand in hand in forging the identity of the 3-year-old league.

If Andrew Dunn had his way, the focus would be more on baseball and less on the political maneuvering the league’s creator, commissioner and owner of all eight teams has used to get the league to this point. Yet, it seems beer is the lightning rod that sparks the political debate.

Dunn and a myriad of public officials have risked their political capital on allowing beer sales at games, and compromise seems to be lacking.

“I think it really draws the professionalism line, everybody has it,” Dunn said. “Every team in our league has it, and it’s part of what we’re doing. … Yes, it makes a huge difference, people want that.”

Dunn successfully negotiated agreements with every city that hosts a Pecos League team to allow beer sales for the 2013 season, with the stipulation that fans were limited to a maximum of three beers and sales would end by the seventh inning. Only the Santa Fe and Las Vegas, N.M., city councils required the establishment of a designated alcohol consumption area.

But it didn’t come without a fight on many fronts.

Santa Fe city councilors were divided on the issue, and opponents of beer sales at the city-owned Fort Marcy Ballpark grilled Dunn on its necessity.

“I think I was pretty much representing the sentiment of my constituents in that area who lived through enough Zozobras and stuff that they were thinking, ‘Here we go again,’ ” Councilor Chris Calvert said. “I was just trying to get some solid answers to some of the questions I had, and I didn’t always get the sense I was getting what I was asking. [Dunn] was sort of like, ‘Well, we’ll do whatever it takes.’ It wasn’t really confidence-inspiring when he wasn’t even answering questions about safety, noise or even the health of the league.”

To others — including Councilor Ron Trujillo, a chief proponent of the ordinance — the fears of debauchery were overblown.

“You know what I wasn’t promoting? ‘Gee, come to the ballpark and get blitzed and go home,’ ” Trujillo said. “That wasn’t what it was about. The sad part about it was the people who spoke against it talked about all these evil, bad things that were going to happen: drunk driving, people defecating and urinating in yards, trash all over. Guess what? That never happened.”

The issue isn’t going away. The New Mexico contingent of the Pecos League all entered into lease agreements to play home games at city-owned ballparks that range in size and scope. While alcohol sales are not necessarily prohibited at the venues, many, including Las Vegas City Councilor Tonita Gurule Giron, object to the idea of alcohol in the presence of kids.

“I will reiterate to you that I am in very much support of the league,” she said. “I love baseball. I played ball when I was a kid. I just love the sport, but I cannot and will not support liquor sales.”

Every city-approved agreement allowing alcohol sales must be renewed yearly, allowing for politics to enter the fray of an already ambiguous future for the league.

“We’re dealing with some of the least-stable city governments in North America,” Dunn said. “We’ve been through multiple city managers in Trinidad; we’ve had multiple mayors in Raton and we haven’t been there a while. Roswell has a very stable city government, [so does] Alamogordo and Santa Fe. But Las Vegas [issued] a recall on their mayor [Alfonso E. Ortiz Jr. on June 25]. San Miguel County’s been great to us but at any time [things could change].”

And it’s that specter that worries Dunn, who maintains there is “absolutely” no financial reason for the league to fold.

However, part of the onus falls on the longtime businessman and graduate of Louisiana State University, who grew up working for his mother, Mary, in the real estate business in the bay area just east of Houston.

Since the inaugural 2011 Pecos League season, Dunn has hired people in each city to help operate his ball clubs, and he attributes the failures in the cities of Las Cruces and Ruidoso to poor local management.

Las Cruces allowed beer sales at Apodaca Park but never elicited enough interest from the community to warrant keeping the Vaqueros there beyond the 2012 season. The team moved to Las Vegas in 2013.

“They sold Las Cruces as this place that was a big market, wanted baseball, and had all these sponsors and all these people that wanted it, and that was not the truth,” Dunn said two weeks ago. “The football team [at New Mexico State University] failed, so I’m not sure that we were a failure.”

He has since reconsidered his stance on the city and is entertaining the possibility of returning the Vaqueros to the City of the Crosses.

No one associated with the Vaqueros could be reached for comment, including Miguel Gomez, who managed the team in 2011 and is the head baseball coach at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces.

A year prior, a confluence of events led the Pecos League to pull out of Ruidoso on an equally sour note after one season in 2011.

Dunn hired Clyde R. Woods Jr. to run the Osos, and shortly after, the village council ruled that White Mountain Recreation Complex would not receive lights for the season and later vetoed the sale of alcohol before Opening Day.

Then midway into the season, Dunn and the public learned Woods had pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2007 and was on supervised probation at the time of his ownership after having served one year under electronic monitoring.

Dunn was appalled, and Woods left the franchise.

“The thing was, he used a different identity when he had applied for ownership, and no one had known,” Dunn said. “And he was recommended by the village of Ruidoso.”

The incident also infuriated Village Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Rafael “Rifle” Salas. “That did raise questions [about] the league’s credibility as far as who’s in charge,” Salas said.

To complicate matters further, Salas says Dunn pulled the Osos franchise out of Ruidoso at the end of the season without paying off a $5,000 lease agreement for using the public ballpark. Dunn contends he paid $1,000 to the village for a league fee, and Woods was responsible for the rest.

Dunn and Ruidoso continue to fight over a settlement.

As the current season nears its final day on July 24 and the statewide city council election cycle creeps closer to March 2014, Dunn is left scrambling for contingency plans to keep the league healthy.

“I can guarantee you that we will be in Santa Fe, Roswell, Alamogordo, Trinidad and Raton,” he said. “Basically, you’re looking at three: Las Vegas, Taos and Alpine; those are your questions.”

The answers could decide the fate of the league — and past precedent does not favor fortune.

According to Baseball Reference’s historical list of independent leagues, only five remain today out of 67. Of the failed leagues, roughly 11 percent survived beyond five years.

Although Dunn expects Alpine to return for the 2014 season, obstacles remain for the clubs in Las Vegas and Taos, plus a potential return to Ruidoso.

In Las Vegas, Mayor Ortiz faces the threat of being ousted by an opposition coalition. Ortiz cast the tie-breaking vote to allow beer sales at Train Robbers games — a fact his anti-alcohol opponents have not forgotten.

The Taos Blizzard were given permission earlier this month to install lights at its ballpark, but its other problem is finding host families for all of the players.

Since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Pecos League advertised on its website that the Ruidoso Osos will return next year, even though the village council has not yet voted to accept the team’s return.

If the Osos are welcomed back, there are still challenges to their survival in Ruidoso. White Mountain Recreation Complex is the only baseball-sanctioned field in town, and Salas believes “no beer” and “no lights” to be the likely outcome of another council vote.

The city council battles continue even in Santa Fe.

Trujillo announced his intention during Wednesday’s council meeting to introduce an ordinance removing Fort Marcy’s “beer garden” and allow beer consumption anywhere within the premises.

“The thing is, people have been telling me since last year and this year, ‘You know Ron, I would like to have a beer [but] I have my kid [and] there’s no way I’m gonna leave my kid,’ ” Trujillo said. “If you get a beer, you can sit with your family. You’re not promoting [underage] drinking. I’ve heard from more and more people who actually go to games that they feel segregated.”

It’s just one more political battle for the Pecos League to fight.

All for the sake of putting baseball and beer together.

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