New Mexico hit national news (NY Times) because Manny Ramirez was here for three days while he's working himself into playing shape.
Our triple A team has had numerous Hall of Famers come through either as they got started or coming down for rehab. In 1972 when the Dukes first became AAA we had perhaps the best minor league team ever waiting in the wings to break into the big time: Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and most of the great mid-70's LA Dodger teams. In the 80's the year after the Dodgers won the World Series off Kirk Gibson's game 1 winning homer, Gibson came down on rehab for four games. Attendance at those games was better than normal, but there wasn't a big deal made about him at first. Gibson only played a few innings each game, but he hit a homer in every game. The second game he was here set the franchise record for distance on a home run. The ball he hit is in the club showcase. It's flat on one side. I'll never forget that hit. At that time Duke Stadium had a drive up area on the side behind third and second bases. The first base side had a pick-nic area behind a tall scoreboard. I knew the instant he hit the ball it was a home run just from the sound off the bat, then everyone gasped as it sailed a good twenty feet above the scoreboard, sailed over the pick-nic area and off onto the mesa. The team estimated that the ball was in flight for over 600 yards. The next day all the sports page could say was how unhappy fans were because he wouldn't sign autographs. He got nothing but bad press for the next two days. It was rediculous. Seeing him hit that homerun is the greatest memory for me as a follower of the game.
Manny comes here, not because he's injured, but because of a 50 game suspension. He's in an Isotope uniform for two games, goes 0 for 4 at the plate and sits out the third game because of a little sprinkle. Now he's off and the town has treated him like a conquering hero. The first game set an attendance record for the new stadium, over 15,000. The old Duke's stadium maxed out at 13,000. I have nothing against Ramirez personally or professionally. I can't understand why the town has made such a fuss over him when compared to others of his stature that have come through here.
I miss the old stadium with it's drive up viewing. It was fun parking the truck in backwards and sitting on the tailgate to watch the game while roasting hotdogs on a hibatchi pot. I'm happy, as most of the city is that the Dodgers are back as the parent club. Not that the Marlins were bad, but the city has stronger ties to LA than to Tampa. I miss the Dukes, it fits better since this is the Duke City, and have never liked Isotopes as a team name (Los Alamos is where the atomic bomb was developed not Albuquerque). Why couldn't The Simpson's have picked on the Toledo Mudhens? Showing my age I guess.