They came streaming up the Durango Street hill. They came in droves across Santa Fe. They came by the thousands. Little boys and girls, wide-eyed and excited. Young couples. Middle-aged couples. Older fans … even some in wheelchairs.
They came to see their El Paso Chihuahuas in September baseball … playoff baseball. Many wore red. Almost all wore some sort of Chihuahua apparel.
They came to see their Chihuahuas one more time, this time against the Fresno Grizzlies in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. The Chihuahuas won 6-4 and take on the Grizzlies tonight.
A standing room only crowd of 9,305 turned out on a beautiful, windless September Friday night for a great big baseball party. They arrived a tad late on a workday Friday evening, this proud working class city. But they came.
They came, they stayed and they were loud.
They booed home plate umpire Adam Schwarz when they disagreed with his ball and strike decisions. They oohed when there was a near miss for the home team. They groaned collectively when Rymer Liriano got thrown at out home on a beautiful throw from Fresno center fielder Alex Presley. And they became almost deafening when Grizzlies first baseman Jon Singleton Bill Buckner-ed Casey McElroy’s ground ball with the bases loaded … Singleton watching helplessly as the slow grounder eluded him and trickled into short right field while two Chihuahuas raced home.
And they reached new decibel levels when Jake Goebbert bounced a two-run double off the right center-field wall, narrowly missing a grand slam home run.
Guillermo and Mary Alice Contreras were there, wearing their Chihuahua shirts — Guillermo with his glove.
“We come to a lot of games and we always have a good time,” he said.
Mary Alice added, “We really like it. We like the environment, all the cheers, all the hoopla … and the food. The playoffs are exciting.”
Guillermo laughed and said, “We weren’t expecting that. But it’s just a fun experience.”
Ann Canales and Alfredo Montes entered through the Durango Street entrance, also wearing their Chihuahua shirts.
“We come to quite a few games and yes, we really enjoy it,” Canales said. “We love the atmosphere, the game of baseball itself. It’s brought a whole new vibe to Downtown.”
And Montes said, “We like coming here because it’s a fun atmosphere, to be together and now there is a championship at stake. It makes you feel like a kid again.”
He then pulled out his foam Chihuahua hat and put it on, laughter floating down the street.
Canales said, “Gotta win … gotta win. Go Chihuahuas!”
Clara and Tony Khoury have been season ticket holders for both seasons of the Chihuahuas’ existence.
“We love it,” Clara Khoury said. “We love the experience, just the whole atmosphere. All the people. And the fun of the game of baseball.”
Tony Khoury laughed and said, “And the beer. It’s a good atmosphere, someplace to escape, do something different.”
Marcus Camero joined the group from San Antonio: “I’ve been to Mission games. I’m excited to see one here. I’ve heard a lot of good things.”
And Sarah Contreras said, “It’s just fun. I’ve felt El Paso has needed something like this for a long time.”
They came. They came by the thousands from all over El Paso. They came, they saw and they participated … participated in one giant baseball party.