Triggers hoping to recapture fan magic in 2013
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
TRINIDAD, Colo. — Expansion teams usually aren’t expected to do well in their first year of existence, with an out-of-state team’s prospects even iffier.
But in 2012, despite losing their coach midway through the Pecos League season, the Trinidad Triggers not only had one of the best public relations campaigns in the league — drawing in fans from two states — but also made the playoffs.
“We were happy,” said JD Droddy, Trigger director of baseball operations and field manager. “We ended up in fourth place, so that’s all right.”
As far as off the field, “We did well,” Droddy said. “We had pretty good crowds and a lot of support. We had by far the best booster club in the league, and I’m not saying that just out of pride. You can ask (league commissioner) Andrew (Dunn), and he’ll tell you that. We had a booster club that did things booster clubs are supposed to do. They were very supportive. They fed both teams after every game and all sorts of stuff. So they were terrific.”
Trinidad operations manager Kim Schultz ran the Trigger PR push, and credited the community with coming out to support the new team.
“The community rallied behind the team and a lot of people came on board,” she said. “The community really was fantastic, and it was beautiful to see our families out every night.”
Although Trinidad is a small town, they have a strong baseball history, which Schultz said goes back to the coal towns that dotted the mountains that span the Colorado-New Mexico border.
“Trinidad has a history of baseball that runs pretty deep,” she said.
Add in a strong program at Trinidad State Junior College — which lends its field to the Triggers — a thriving high school and Little League program as well as a Miner alumni tournament that dates back at least 20 years, and pro baseball sounded like a solid prospect.
“We knew baseball had a niche here, we just didn’t know to what degree,” Schultz said. “So we tested it and put it out there and the response was fantastic, and I hope and pray for better this year just because of the fact we’re going to be playing our natural rivals, teams like Raton and Taos and Las Vegas and Santa Fe. Those guys are close to us. That’s old home week.”
Droddy agrees that despite only a 20-minute drive between the team’s ballparks — a drive that spans two cities and two states — a rivalry with Raton will be a plus.
“Personally, I think it’s going to be excellent, because not too many of our fans came from Raton, and virtually none of our sponsors came from Raton,” he said.
And both Droddy and Schultz agree that the original plan — which called for Trinidad and Raton to share a team — was not a good idea.
“It didn’t take too long to figure out that wasn’t going to work,” Droddy said. “(The two towns) just don’t get along, which I’m hoping will lead to filled stadiums on both sides of the state line when we play each other.”
“The communities were absolutely against it,” Schultz agreed. “When we meet at the pass, when we play football or we play baseball or we do anything against each other, it’s a downright fight to the end as who wins.”
And Schultz doesn’t think the Osos will siphon fans from the Triggers.
“I think that natural rivalry will spur more people to both towns,” she said. “Also, from a league perspective, it puts us in a position where we’re capturing a share on one side of the hill or the other.”
So to draw the fans, Droddy will need to field a solid lineup, and he thinks he’s well on the way to doing that. He said he’s already signed 20 plus players of the 30 each team is allowed at spring training, including several returners.
“We’re bringing several of our veterans back, mostly pitchers,” he said. “Our center fielder, Jacob Fabry, he was outstanding. He’s going to be our team captain. Then we’ve got a lot of good rookies.”
Droddy said he’s recruiting from a number of Division I colleges, with a D-I catcher already scheduled to start.
“We think we’ll be OK. Some people think, because they don’t know who it is we’re bringing in, they think we’re going to be really weak, but I think they’re going to be really surprised.”
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