Was there ever a time when you pictured yourself cheering, “Go, Orange Pickers!” Nor did I until we attended one of the final seasonal games of the Naranjeros de Hermosillo. This Mexican Pacific League (LMP) baseball or béisbol team has been around for about 60 years. Their season begins in early October wrapping up during the month of January. The level of play is equivalent to that of a United States AAA team. A beautiful stadium built in 2013 houses their games. It is located in the city of Hermosillo which is a little over an hour north of our home in San Carlos. When our family came to town we thought, Mexican Baseball…why not?
While the team might be unknown to most of you, the ardent supporters of the LA Dodgers and Boston Red Soxs have nothing on the fans of the mighty Naranjeros. We were told to wear “team gear” or run the risk of potentially feeling out of place at the game. As if that’s something two Americans who recently transplanted themselves into another culture and country don’t already fully comprehend. Nonetheless, under the Christmas tree this year our family discovered a giant box filled with five tickets and a variety of items from the team’s much coveted “team gear”. This would ensure we were game ready. One t-shirt, three jerseys, a sweatshirt and a reversible beanie later we were ready to strut our stuff at the big game. Our tickets were for a Saturday, DAMAS 2X1, night at the ballpark. All mujers are admitted free with the purchase of another ticket. For a mere $32 we had five seats six rows up on the 1st base sideline. Orange Growers, here we come.
The night of the game the temperature in Hermosilla had dropped into the low desert 50s. Brrrrrrrr! We bundled up and headed for the game concealing much of our black and orange team spirit. Less than an hour before game time we arrived at an almost empty, dirt parking lot adjacent to the stadium. The men working the free lot let us know that there was indeed a game that evening. Note to self, tailgating is not a thing in Mexico unless soccer is involved. We made our way into the Tecate sponsored stadium receiving bright orange fan towels as we entered. Thirty minutes to go and there are limited signs of the blockbuster action we had anticipated. We walked the almost empty concourse of the stadium to preplan our concession indulgences. A quick stop at the cerveza stand to order, “Dos cervezas, por favor.” The cost, 70 pesos ($3.75). I was thinking this was quite a bargain when the employee pulled out four beers. I quickly jumped into correction mode to make sure the vendor understood we needed two cervezas instead of four. With a quizzical look she proceeded to pour two beers into each giant cup. Double bargain!!!! I love Mexico.
Before the game commenced, Carson stumbled upon Mexican Street Chips, crispy potato chips doused with Valentina hot sauce and lime served in a cup. They are as messy as they are delicious. Matt tracked down the craft beer stand. While Peyton, Mike and I browsed the other available concessions. We were impressed with the variety of choices. Mixed in with the typical sodas, corn dogs, beer and popcorn we found burritos, tacos, ribs, tortas and the most neon pink and blue cotton candy any of us had ever seen. Only five minutes until play and the stadium was barely showing signs of a pulse. This conflicted with our mental comparison of sporting events in the states. We found our seats as the first pitch was thrown.
Play continued and the Hermosillo Naranjeros and Obregón Yaquis switched places on the field swinging bats and defending bases. The 3rd inning of the game the seats began to fill with fans. Obregon is located only two and a half hours away so both teams had voices cheering them on to victory. We loved the action on the field, the sideline dance team and the energy of the mascots. Vendors cruised the aisles selling margaritas, peanuts, beer and sugary homemade churros. After sampling a few treats in our seats we finally made our way to the concession stands. We eventually wandered back with veggie quesadillas and amazing tacos al pastor. As we smacked our lips around baseball delicacies both teams endeavored to move on to the January playoffs.
The bottom of the 8th arrived with a tie score. The crowd was “ROCKIN” by this point and we were trembling with both excitement and lack of warmth. We decided to uproot our frozen bodies from the stadium and attempt to thaw out on the drive back to San Carlos. Leaving the stadium we noticed a band setting up in the concourse reminding us the “Mexican Baseball Fiesta” was just getting started.
The Naranjeros were not victorious that night but they did make a great showing in the 14 innings of play. We have no idea what time the winning run crossed home plate but no doubt there was a roaring cheer for the Yaquis. Meanwhile the waiting band struck a chord reminding everyone, you win some and you lose some, regardless, there’s always a party in Mexico.
“There’s no crying in baseball!”Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own
January 28, 2020