Thursday, March 28, 2019

From Scottsdale to Albuquerque: Rockies take road trip to connect with Triple-A community

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ALBUQUERQUE – Opening Day. Fifteen games with the promise of a fresh new season after spending just shy of two months in spring training.

While many teams returned home to their stadiums, some clubs wrapped up spring training in a different fashion with three teams – the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and the Colorado Rockies – traveling to the homes their respective Triple-A affiliates.

The Rockies made their way to New Mexico to visit the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“We’ve been talking about it for years,” said John Traub, Isotopes General Manager. “For probably 17 years, it’s one of my top priorities during the offseason, but they are hard to come by. Major League exhibition games are difficult for a lot of different reasons. Scheduling is very problematic.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, depending on where regular seasons are opening and things of that nature. Every major league team out there knows that we want to have an exhibition game here in Albuquerque following spring training, but it just doesn’t always come to fruition.”

And it was not easy. The Rockies broke camp on Monday morning in Scottsdale, Arizona, traveled to Albuquerque, and then shipped out to Florida for their last exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins.

A Monday afternoon game seems like it wouldn’t draw the biggest crowd, right? But that was the exact opposite of the situation at Isotopes Park.

Tickets for the game were hard to come by in the last couple days before berm tickets went on sale three days before players took the field.

“The fact that we are already at nearly 11,000 tickets sold is a great sign that it worked,” Traub said. “Obviously, it’s not an ideal scenario with a Monday afternoon game. Other teams do it all over the country.

“I thought maybe we’ll get to 7,000 tickets and we blew that out of the water almost immediately, so that was a very good sign. Who knows what the future is going to hold, but this year people are very excited about it.”

Excited they were. The official attendance number announced at the game was 12,222. Seats were filled with Rockies jerseys and fans excited to see a major league team in their stadium.

“People love it because not everyone can get out to spring training. It’s not easy for everybody to get out to Arizona or Florida so to bring spring training here is pretty cool,” said Traub.

That was the case for Mark Garcia. An Albuquerque native, Garcia had never been to a major league game.

“The Rockies are my team. I used to be a Yankees fan, and then Trevor Story coming from the Isotopes, and that’s where I started following them,” Garcia said.

“This community is excited about the Isotopes,” Traub said. “I think there was a pocket of people here that were already Rockies fans. The Rockies look at Albuquerque and New Mexico as kind of their market and that’s only grown since we have been affiliated with them.”

[mediumimage-slim source=”” caption=”Second baseman Ryan McMahon homered during the exhibition game against the Isotopes with a line drive to right field in the top of the fourth inning.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)”] [2up_image_slim source1=”” caption1=”Tickets for the exhibition game went on sale Feb. 1 to the general public with berm tickets being released just days ahead of the game.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)” source2=”” caption2=”Colorado Rockies mascot, Dinger, made the trip to Albuquerque along with the rest of the team.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)”] [2up_image_slim source1=”” caption1=”Albuquerque Isotopes second baseman, Peter Mooney, struck out and walked during the exhibition game.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)” source2=”” caption2=”Rockies first baseman, Roberto Ramos, shields his eyes from the sun searching for a popped ball in the infield.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)”] [2up_image_slim source1=”” caption1=”Colorado Rockies mascot, Dinger, joined Albuquerque Isotopes mascot, Orbit, for traditional Albuquerque in-game entertainment.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)” source2=”” caption2=”Fans lined the tunnel field entrance tunnel for a chance to get an autograph from the Colorado Rockies players.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)”] [mediumimage-slim source=”” caption=”Rockies third baseman, Nolan Arenado, sits in the infield after missing a line drive hit to center field.(Photo by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)”]

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