Raton residents hoping Osos won't disappoint
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
RATON — Folks in Raton have been disappointed in recent years with promises of big things that never materialized. In particular, a new racetrack and casino that was promised to replace the La Mesa racetrack, the state’s first racetrack, never came to town.
So Raton residents are justifiably a little leery about the move of the Osos from Ruidoso to Raton.
“The general feeling is there’s a little bit of skepticism, said Raton Parks and Recreation Director Jared Chatterly. “With a lot of things that have happened in Raton lately, there’s this big build up to big things that are going to happen and they don’t pan out.”
That aside, Chatterly said excitement about the Osos is growing, and he expects the team to be well supported once the players roll into town in early May.
“There’s a lot of support for baseball in the community. I think people are just kind of waiting to see if it will happen,” he said. “Things will start to roll and get exciting. People do know it can happen because they’ve seen Trinidad. They know of the Triggers. They see what was done over there. So once they start seeing players on the field and there’s more of a buzz, I think there will be an even greater sweep of excitement, and people will get behind it.”
The city is certainly behind the Pecos League team, with city-owned Gabrielle FIeld at Legion Park being the home of the Osos.
“It’s totally been redone as of a couple of years ago,” Charrerly said of the field. “People refer to it as the ‘million dollar field,’ even though it didn’t cost that much, but it is a very nice facility. So we’re looking to showcase that as part of the Osos being in town. Because now the field isn;’t being used as much as we would like.”
Currently, the field is used by the Raton TIger high school team in spring, but for the rest of the year it doesn’t see much use.
“So we’re excited to have the Osos here to get more use out of that field and to show it off,” Chatterly said.
The city already has plans for a big Fourth of July celebration that will include a balloon rally, parade, fireworks show and baseball game — “Nothing is more American than fireworks and baseball and parades,” Chatterly said — and has other promotions in the mill.
Even those the Oso name was a transplant from Ruidoso, Chatterly said it fits well in Raton, where bears are known to roam the streets and bear proof dumpsters are the norm.
“Raton is notorious for having bear problems, so we’ve talked about referring to the concession stand as the ‘Dumpster,” he laughed. “People can get their grub out of the dumpster.”
Beer sales are definitely a plan for during games, along with whatever other activities will make it a fun experience for the fans.
“Just kind of try to make it a fun family atmosphere where everybody can come and watch a game. Bring some folks into town,” Chatterly said.
Osos manager Keith Essary has already been on the radio asking residents for help — everything from scorekeepers to announcers to host families — and Chatterly said he’s been getting a good response.
“From what I’m getting from that direction, there’s been a lot of people calling, coming here to the Department of Parks and Recreation saying, ‘Hey! I want to be involved in this Oso thing. It’s coming together.”
Chatterly said Raton is taking it’s cues from Trinidad, which went through their growth pangs in 2012, and while he expects a few bumps in the road, he expects things will smooth as as the season gets closer.
“I think once things start to happen, going from the experience Trinidad has had, and they’ve been there for a year and their sponsors have caught on, I see the same thing happening over here.”
And with Trinidad only 20 miles north of Raton, Las Vegas 110 miles south and Taos 90 miles west, Chatterly said bring on the rivalries.
“Absolutely. Whether it be Taos or Trinidad or Las Vegas, that’s what people want to see. People want to see the competition. And I think when there is rivalry, that shows that the community is really behind the team,” he said. “If there’s truly a rivalry, and the towns start talking smack with each other and start getting a little rowdy, then we know that things are going in a direction where hey! People are getting behind the teams. They’re taking pride in whether the team wins or loses and to me, the more rivalries the better.”
And, he said, while Oso fans will be behind their team every game, they’ll be especially enthusiastic when they face the Triggers.
“There’s some competition,” Chatterly said. “I can guarantee that Raton is going to want to beat Trinidad every time they play.”
The Osos will inaugurate Gabrielle Field when they open the season vs. Trinidad May 15.
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