The Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico made their debut on Saturday night to much fanfare in front of a record crowd of 16,975 at Isotopes Park, with a 4-1 win over Los Chihuahuas de El Paso.
The crowd broke both attendance records that the club keeps, the previous high for a non Fourth of July weekend game was 15,321, which was set on June 23, 2009 when Manny Ramirez made a rehab appearance with the Isotopes. The previous all-time record was set on July 4, 2014 with a crowd of 16,348.
“I was blown away by the crowd today, we didn’t expect to break the all-time record,” Isotopes General Manager John Traub said.
Traub said that he hadn’t even considered the possibility of breaking the record until a few days ago when he saw the number of advanced ticket sales.
The rebrand is a part of MiLB’s initiative “Es Divertido Ser Un Fan” which is meant to engage Hispanic fans in markets across the country. A total of 33 teams are participating this year, the first full year of the initiative following a small pilot last year.
In addition to the Mariachis, the team also played host to His Majesty Chitimukulu~Sosala Kanyanta Manga II, the King of the Bemba People in Zambia.
The Mariachis started Antonio Senzatela, who was just optioned to the team from Colorado to stretch out from a bullpen role back into being a starter. He pitched four innings, allowing two hits, one run, walking one and striking out eight.
Nuevo Mexico struck first in the third inning, as a Ryan McMahon single drove Elliot Soto home from third. El Paso answered in the fourth with a solo shot to right from Franmil Reyes. The Mariachis added two more in the fourth thanks to a single from Jan Vazquez that brought Josh Fuentes and Jordan Patterson around to score.
In the fifth inning, Patterson set the team record for the most hit-by-pitches in his career with 35. He was hit once more before the game ended to stretch the record to 36, and in the words of a joking Traub, steal the thunder of Mariachis night. A fourth run came across in the fifth to finalize the score.
Three mariachi bands greeted fans at the entrances to the park, and Mexican Folkloric Ballet dancers danced along to the music. The night rounded out with a post game fireworks display that was set to mariachi music.
Traub expects another large crowd for Sunday’s game, which is headlined by Bark in the Park.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @goeldfinger.