CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Andrew Dunn, commissioner of the Pecos League, answers questions during a Wednesday meeting at the Clovis Parks and Recreation Department. The Clovis Pioneers will start play in May as part of the Pecos League.
A few dozen Pioneers are going to need a home.
That was the message relayed at an informational meeting Wednesday at the Clovis Parks and Recreation Building. The commissioner of the Pecos League and the manager of the Clovis Pioneers were on hand to answer questions about the 74-game season, which begins in May.
The meeting drew about a dozen residents who asked about the teams, the players, the season and what the league needs from Clovis. Commissioner Andrew Dunn said the two biggest needs are host families and sponsorships.
Clovis is one of four New Mexico teams that will play in the eight-team league, with more than 20 tryouts coming. Manager John Harris said he’d try to get players who have finished eligibility with Eastern New Mexico University and other state schools.
“I, as the commissioner of the league, believe in New Mexico,” Commissioner Andrew Dunn said. “I believe it will work here. I think the support is good.”
The team plans to play at Bell Park, owned by Clovis Municipal Schools. Dunn said alcohol would not be sold at the park, but fans could expect concessions, team merchandise and a good team on the field.
New Mexico teams will include the Pioneers, the White Sands (Alamogordo) Pupfish, the Roswell Invaders and the Las Cruces Vaqueros. Texas teams include Alpine, Del Rio and El Paso. There would be rosters of 22 submitted for each game, with player ages from 22 to 27. Dunn said each team would receive four exemptions for older players and four exemptions for foreign players.
Clovis will open the season May 11, with the first game of a four-game series against the Invaders.
The teams will play a 74-game season May through August, and four teams will make the playoffs — a first-half regular season champion, a second-half regular season champion and the next two best overall records (next three if the same team wins both halves).
Harris, a Clovis native who was the Amarillo Dillas hitting coach this summer, said host families are a key because players will probably make about $400 a month. Dunn said three families have inquired so far in Clovis.
“In independent baseball, it’s a big deal,” Harris said. “We’ll try to work something out where we give you money, or at least season tickets. Hopefully, they’ll pitch in (with chores).”
Dunn said host families would receive season tickets, and interested parties could reach him through either clovispioneers.com or pecosleague.com.
Season tickets will be $200, Dunn said, and the team hopes to sell at least 200 to have a chance to break even.
Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said he’s known Harris for years and has faith in his ability to put a quality product on the field.
“It won’t be a renegade program,” Bizzell said. “I’m confident it will be a quality-run program. I think it provides a quality, next-level league for our community, and I’ll be one of the first ones in line to buy a season ticket.”
Clovis High School Athletic Director Brian Stacy attended the meeting, and talked with Dunn afterward about league schedules and maintenance needs.
“You guys have seen Bell Park,” Stacy said. “We take pride in that. I pay people year-round to maintain that field so we could play on it today. We like what’s going on. We just want to make sure it fits.”