Pro baseball commissioner eyes Clovis for team site

Kevin Wilson

A professional baseball league commissioner is hoping bringing Clovis aboard isn’t a wild pitch.

Andrew Dunn, the commissioner of the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs, toured a pair of parks in the city Tuesday in the hopes he could add Clovis as a seventh site for the rookie ball league, scheduled to run May 11-Aug. 10 of next year.

The league needs a park with good amenities, and hopes to be able to sell alcohol.

Dunn owns the Las Cruces Vaqueros, one of three teams absorbed by the Pecos League after the Continental Baseball League disbanded after four seasons.

The league has plans to operate in three New Mexico cities — Roswell, Alamogordo and Las Cruces — and three in Texas — Del Rio, Alpine and El Paso.

If all goes right, Dunn said Clovis would join, likely as the Mountain Lions.

“There are people here that want a team, they’ve expressed that,” Dunn said. “Some people are confidential, some people are not.”

If Clovis is added, Dunn said a second team would be added to El Paso to balance out the East and West divisions.

The rookie-level league would play May 11-Aug. 10 on a $175,000 budget, Dunn said. The average age of players would be 21 to 27, with four exceptions for players older than 27 and four exceptions for players outside of the United States.

“They’ve got to realize if they can’t play a position,” Dunn said, “nobody’s going to pick them up.”

Dunn said 14 players from the CBL have moved on to sign contracts with higher organizations.

It wouldn’t be the first time Clovis has been affiliated with professional baseball. The Clovis Pioneers — from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s — mostly played in the West Texas-New Mexico League, and had brief Major League affiliations with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds.

Dunn took a tour of Bell Park, owned and operated by Clovis Municipal Schools, and Mike Harris Field, under control of the city. Dunn noticed on the tour the fields had similar dimensions, but said Bell Park was an impressive and well-maintained field.

“I’ve been to 17 cities,” Dunn said. “They could play a game out there at the end of this week (if they needed to).”

However, Dunn was told the school’s responsibility for the field means alcohol would not be available for sale.

“I don’t care about alcohol (personally),” Dunn said, “but financially, to make it possible to break even, you have to have alcohol.”

School Superintendent Terry Myers said he’d be willing to discuss use of Bell Park if it’s being used in a family setting, but alcohol sales negates that.

“One, we don’t want to bring alcohol anywhere schoolchildren will be,” Myers said. “Two, it’s against state law, so we couldn’t consider it anyway.”

Teams will be finalized in January, according to the league website, at www.pecosleague.com.