The Mexican Winter Baseball League’s version of “spring training” will return to the Valley for the sixth consecutive year, with the last several years being in Mesa.
The Mexican Baseball Fiesta will return to Sloan Park. The “fiesta” played there in 2015 but another commitment in 2016 had the event move to Hohokam Stadium. This year’s games will be on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Three of the top teams from the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico will participate – Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo, Águilas de Mexicali and the Cañeros de Los Mochis.
All games will be played in Mesa at Sloan Park, 2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway, which is home to the Chicago Cubs during spring training.
Saturday, Sept. 30 7 p.m. Hermosillo vs. Los Mochis
Sunday, Oct. 1 2 p.m. Doubleheader – game schedule TBD shortly
“The Mexican Pacific League is as popular in Mexico as Major League Baseball is in the U.S., if not more so,” said Francisco Gamez, Mexican Baseball Fiesta founder and LLC partner. Gamez played over 10 years in the Mexican Pacific League as well as in the Milwaukee Brewers organization in the states. Constant excitement is the best way to describe the Mexican Baseball Fiesta. The energy of the fans, the music and fun make this a unique experience for all baseball fans. This event embraces our Mexican friends and visitors.”
Mike Feder, president of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta, said: “We are extremely excited that the Mexican Baseball Fiesta continues to grow. Last year’s Saturday night game drew in excess of 3,000 passionate fans.”
Feder was a general manager in minor league baseball for 30 years (15 years in Tucson).
“The Mexican Baseball Fiesta is a rare opportunity for baseball fans in the U.S. to experience authentic Mexican baseball games, which features a festive atmosphere including live music and authentic regional Mexican cuisine. The Mexican Baseball Fiesta is not just a baseball game; it’s a party,” said Feder.
Justin Piper, Chicago Cubs general manager – Sloan Park, said: “Sloan Park is excited to once again host the Mexican Baseball Fiesta. We look forward to welcoming the Mexican Winter League teams and their fans for an energetic baseball experience.”
Mesa is one of a number of cities taking part in this year’s Mexican Baseball Fiesta. The other cities finalized are Tucson and Las Vegas. They are still working on Nogales and Douglas, Arizona.
Tickets to the general public go on sale in early September online. Ticket prices are box seats – $15 and general admission – $10, kids (6-16) $6. Fans will be able to purchase tickets online at www.MexicanBaseballFiesta.com, at Food City, MV Snack & Sushi and Taqueria Cajeme in Mesa, La Gran Bota, Restaurant Sinaloa, or at Sloan Park the week of the games.
The Naranjeros de Hermosillo, based in Sonora, has a great following and strong attendance. The Naranjeros de Hermosillo are one of the most popular and successful teams in the Mexican Pacific League, having won 16 league titles and two Caribbean Series title. The Naranjeros won the Caribbean Series title in 2014. They became the first Mexican team to win the Caribbean Series after winning the title in 1976. Former Hermosillo players include Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, Fernando Valenzuela, Erubiel Durazo and Vinny Castilla. Hermosillo will be managed by Miami Marlins coach Lorenzo Bundy.
Cañeros de Los Mochis play in the state of Sinaloa. The Cañeros won the league championship in 1984 and 2003. Luis Sojo will manage the team. Notable players from the Cañeros include Aurelio Rodriguez, Mike Cameron, former Tucson Toros P Bronswell Patrick, Tucsonan Ed Vosberg and Juan Castro.
Agulias de Mexicali play in Baja California. Mexicali was the LMP league champion last season. The team has a history of playing against Arizona teams, when in the ’50s it played against the Tucson Cowboys in the Arizona-Mexico League. The Aguilas won the league championship in 1986, 1989, 1999 and 2016. The team also won the 1986 Caribbean Series. Former Mexicali players include Mike Piazza, John Kruk and Rudy Seanez. Roberto Vizcarra will manage the team.
The Mexican Baseball Fiesta began in 2011 in Tucson and was the brainchild of former professional LMP and minor league baseball pitcher Gamez. Feder, at the time the GM of the Tucson Padres, worked with Gamez to launch the tour which has been steadily growing in popularity. Jack Donovan, former minor league GM and MLB executive, is also a MBF partner.
Information on the Mexican Baseball Fiesta, LLC is available at: www.MexicanBaseballFiesta.com.