Be honest. Didn’t think they’d last this long did you?

Full disclosure, neither did we. Or anyone else for that matter.

When Santa Fe was introduced to professional baseball on a cold November night four years when the City Council voted 5-4 to allow beer sales at Fort Marcy Ballpark, the general consensus was that we were staring at a house of cards in a room full of toddlers. Baseball wouldn’t last.

We’d seen it before. Hockey failed miserably despite the best efforts of a very few gold-hearted locals. The Santa Fe RoadRunners were gone before anyone really got to know them.

It was reasonable to assume that Santa Fe’s entry into the Pecos League was doomed to fail. Back then, no one wanted much to do with the team other than a few folks too stubborn to let the idea go away.

Four years down the road, those select few are doing all the laughing as — slowly but surely — people line up to support the team we all know as the Fuego. The team has led the league in attendance since its inception and the early returns this year indicate that it could (and should) be the best year yet.

Everyone, it seems, is happy.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Before we move on, can anyone recall the original name for the team? Hint, it wasn’t the Fuego.

That one was down on the list behind Zozobras and Conquistadors. It was even behind the name that was originally assigned to the club, the Mountain Lions. That’s right, Santa Fe Mountain Lions. Bet you don’t remember that, do you?

True to form with the cutting-corners-at-all-costs Pecos League, the M-Lions was the pick simply because a team from the previous year had used it and it was cheaper to transfer the uniforms to Santa Fe instead of purchasing new ones for an expansion club.

The popular choice back then was Zozobras, but it was smacked to the ground when the local Kiwanis Club reminded everyone that it owns exclusive rights to Old Man Gloom and anyone hoping to reproduce its likeness for profit must get the club’s permission beforehand.

You can’t blame the Kiwanis for saying no. The Pecos League was (and still is) an organization that operates on a shoestring budget and pays its players next to nothing. If the league’s selling point to the city was its need to sell beer to survive, it’s reasonable that first impressions weren’t exactly stellar. And they weren’t.

Four years later and the Fuego is now the cash cow of the Pecos League, its top team and most profitable club. As long as it thrives, the league has a pulse. People are lining up to lend their support, even opening their homes to let players crash during the season.

As of Friday night, only four were still living in hotels.

Given the signs of stability on the home front, it’s interesting to see how the Kiwanis Club is pining to make Zozobra the unofficial mascot of the team. The effigy’s likeness is embroidered onto the team’s cap this season and the last two nights at the ballpark have essentially been all about Old Man Gloom, from alternate jerseys to the between innings festivities.

Makes one wonder what could have been had the Kiwanis jumped on board from day one. With merchandise sales already going well, having the name and mascot of the giant puppet everyone knows and loves would make the team one of the most popular and quirky points of interest in pro ball.

Oh, well. What coulda been …

Now isn’t the time to debate the team’s identity. Like anything else with staying power, the team’s history is what matters and the brief lifespan of the Fuego means Santa Fe’s relationship with the team is off to a solid and promising start.

(3) comments

Mark Ortiz

"Be honest. Didn’t think they’d last this long did you?
Full disclosure, neither did we. Or anyone else for that matter."

Most Santa Feans heard for the 1st time, that pro baseball was coming to Santa Fe, with your hot steaming dump of an article in which you expressed these athletes, that you now make a living covering, are a bunch of delusional, talentless, ball players who "do not want real jobs." Do you remember that article Will, "Do not want real jobs." So, who planted that defeatist seed? Who rallied the public to laugh at this endeavor? Who has insulted the league, the team, the players, and the fans from day one? You did Will. Who is this "we" you speak of that thought this wouldn't work? "Anyone", huh. Speak for yourself Will.
There are quite a number of us, regardless of your "crapping on the Fuego" articles, that always stood by the endeavor, came out to a game even if we were only a 30-50 in attendance each and every night. You are who you are Will and I imagine your arrogance and condescending writings will NEVER change.
I feel sorry for you. Being a big fish in a little pond you seem to detest, must be hard. Somehow, some way, I do hope the calling of the big city comes for you because obviously covering St. Mikes and the Fuego are dulling your writing abilities and now must walk around Santa Fe with a bitter heart.

Andrew Dunn

Thank u Ronnie

I knew from the first time there was Independent Baseball in New Mexico that Santa Fe would be a gem. I loved Fort Marcy Park and knew that it would be a different place to watch a baseball game. People love offense and Fort Marcy means offense.

As far as media questioning Pecos League budgets you have to look at ballparks/towns we play in and budgets... this level of budget fits in the markets we are in, the shoe fits.

The Pecos League has progressed tremdously since 2011 We have really good fan support in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and West Texas and could have some great new Markets in 2016. They even made a TV Show in 2013

The Fuego players are very happy to be here despite their low pay...
I was the one who tried to name the team the Zozobras...Kiwanis threatened,
I would like to thank Ronnie and Ray for getting Zozobra to final align with us and I hope they enjoyed their game.
I was stunned that City Council Meeting caused such a riot over beer.
The uniforms and name Fuego are actually popular from Coast to Coast just like the Roswell Invaders....We will forever be the Fuego.

The biggest thing other than the neighborhood issue was the baseball people didn't think a Pro Game could be played in Fort Marcy Park.

thank you,

Owner of Santa Fe Fuego/Pecos League
Andrew Dunn

Ronald S. Trujillo

Sorry Will there were a few of us who thought the Fuego would succeed.

Although not popular I knew that given time this team would fill an entertainment need in Santa Fe for our locals. How sweet to look at where this team has come in only 4 years. Yes I know there were a lot of people who didn't want this team here especially on the east side of Santa Fe because it just didn't fit into the scheme of things for that part of town. But look 4 ears later people who were against the team are now fans of the team and come to the games regularly. All it took was to give this team a chance and not write them off the moment they took the field on day 1.

The Fuego are now a part of Santa Fe and it's history. I don't know how long they will be here but my hope is that they are here forever thus giving Santa Fe a team that everyone can support, and by the look of the crowds over the past 4 years its only going to get bigger and better.

Thanks to the Fans who have supported the Fuego since day 1 and those who have come on board over the past 4 years
It's because of you the Fuego are sucessful. Win or lose your support has been awsome.

City Councilor
Ronald S.Trujillo

Welcome to the discussion.

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