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Las Vegas Ballpark Welcomes Mexican Baseball Fiesta September 16-17

September 13, 2021 - Triple-A West League (AAA West) - Las Vegas Aviators News Release

Spring training is coming to Las Vegas Ballpark this weekend - and it's coming in the form of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta, right as summer gives way to fall.

Confused? Here's the explanation: Since 2011, the Mexican Winter Leagues - which feature 10 professional teams that compete from October through February - has staged several "spring" training games in the United States, mostly in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. These exhibition contests have come to be known as the Mexican Baseball Fiesta, and as the name suggests, it's one huge, colorful party in which fans partake in authentic Hispanic food and frosty libations while enjoying nonstop music, playful mascots and quality baseball.

The Fiesta traveled north to Las Vegas for the first time in 2017, with games held at Cashman Field. The event returned to town in 2019, this time at Las Vegas Ballpark, where two teams from Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (the Mexican Pacific League) - Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Águilas de Mexicali - squared off in a two-game series.

Las Vegas Ballpark once again will host Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo and Águilas de Mexicali for a pair of Mexican Baseball Fiesta games September 16-17. First pitch for both contests is 7:05 p.m.

"This is truly a party - I really don't know what else to call it," said Mike Feder, president of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta who spent 30 years as Minor League Baseball general manager. "It's a lot of music, a lot of drinking, mascots on the field and excellent baseball. It's just great entertainment."

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico was founded in 1945 and has produced players who went on to enjoy long and successful major-league careers - players like Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, one-time Los Angeles Dodgers pitching phenom (and Mexico native) Fernando Valenzuela and first baseman (and one-time Las Vegas Star) John Kruk. All three once donned Águilas de Mexicali jerseys, while alumni from Los Naranjeros de Hermosillo include two-time World Series-winning pitcher Curt Schilling, recently enshrined Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Walker and former Colorado Rockies slugger Vinny Castilla (who played several seasons with Walker in Colorado).

In fact, Castilla - who is as popular as any baseball player who has ever come out of Mexico - was Hermosillo's manager in 2019.

"The teams' rosters include some former big leaguers and some prospects trying to get to the big leagues, but the majority of players are from Mexico," Feder said. "The quality of play may be a notch [below Triple-A] - you don't have those top prospect pitchers who are throwing 95 to 99 mph. But these are guys who have been around a little; they're more veteran players."

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico has long been extremely popular throughout Mexico, with natives developing a passion for their hometown teams and passing on that passion from one generation to the next. "It's no different than the Diamondbacks or the Dodgers or the Yankees," Feder said of the loyalty fans show to Liga Mexicana del Pacifico clubs. "Teams that play in this league are thought of the exact same way, and it's taken very seriously."

Don Logan, the Aviators' president and COO, echoed that sentiment. "The Mexican Baseball League is as popular in Mexico as Major League Baseball is in the U.S., if not more so," he said.

Local fans planning to attend the Mexican Baseball Fiesta for the first time are in for a unique treat, as the festive ballpark atmosphere that permeates professional baseball south of the border is different than what fans experience during games in the U.S. For instance, music is played throughout the entirety of the game, even while the ball is in play. Also, multiple mascots roam the field between innings, fans dance the night away in the stands and traditional Mexican food - rather than hot dogs and peanuts - is the cuisine of choice at concession stands.

"Constant excitement is the best way to describe the Mexican Baseball Fiesta," Logan says. "The energy, the fans, the music, the food and the fun make this a unique experience for all baseball fans. We encourage everyone to come out for the party."

Adds Feder: "This product will bring [a piece of] home back to Las Vegas residents who are from Mexico. Their grandmothers and grandfathers who grew up in Mexico, they know Hermosillo and they know Mexicali. If you have any ties to Mexico, you understand this event."

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @AviatorsLV, and follow Aviators beat writer Matt Jacob on Twitter @MattRJacob.

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