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Mariachis Hit High Note as Greatest Gorra

June 12, 2020 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - Albuquerque Isotopes News Release

After taking the first two iterations of Copa de la Diversión (or "Fun Cup"), Triple-A Albuquerque's Mariachis de Nuevo México have added to their accolades by winning the Greatest Gorra tournament as the fans' favorite cap.

"We've kind of gotten used to winning with the Mariachis," said Kevin Collins, Isotopes director of public relations. "But it says everything about how loyal our fans have been and just how passionate they are about the Mariachis brand. We take nothing for granted."

The Greatest Gorra contest began May 26 with all 92 Copa hats -- featuring on-field identities that celebrate Hispanic/LatinX communities -- squaring off. Fans first cut the field in half in an initial round of voting, then whittled down to a final four of Medusas de Lakewood, Soñadores de Hillsboro, Llamas de Hickory and the Mariachis before Hillsboro's "Dreamers" fell to Albuquerque in the finals. Fans who participated in voting were given the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes for exclusive prizes, including ECHO Outdoor Power Equipment and official on-field Copa caps from Minor League Baseball.

As for the Isotopes, they pride themselves on how seriously they've taken the Mariachis identity. Coming up with the name before the 2018 season, the team wanted to incorporate New Mexico rather than Albuquerque so that as many people as possible could be part of the Mariachis community. They also made sure to include the players early on as general manager John Traub brought a cap to Spring Training to give Rockies Minor Leaguers a sneak peek.

"We showed it to Austin House, a relief pitcher who's from Albuquerque," Collins said. "We wanted to get his take on it and he loved it. And we showed it to one of our catchers, Jan Vazquez, and he was just blown away. I guess a reward for being at Triple-A and not quite making the Major League roster was that he knew he got to wear these Mariachis uniforms."

To the Isotopes, "Mariachi bands, like baseball, provide the colorful soundtrack of people's lives." This is incorporated through logo and uniform designs as well with in-stadium performers. In its first year, Albuquerque put more money into marketing than any other Copa team while bringing in the largest net gain from licensed products and most commercial partnership revenue. They raised money for local education. And the community thanked them with record-setting attendance.

"We take it very seriously, and to be rewarded with another recognition makes all that work worth it," Collins said. "And it makes us just realize that we have such a passionate fan base, and to know that it's resonating with them and our hard work is resonating with the fans makes this, we talk about this all the time, makes us feel so great."

Heading into 2019, the club added turquoise to the black and red scheme that is used in their everyday uniforms. As the state color and gem of New Mexico, turquoise symbolizes another way they could be ingrained with the community. Plus it added a pop that many Copa brands seek. New color, same campeón.

"Honestly, anywhere young in New Mexico you see a Mariachis hat, whether it's the new turquoise one, our older red one or just some of the wild variations that Kara Hayes has come up with, our director of merchandise," Collins said. "I don't think I've gone outside in the past three years in New Mexico and not seen a Mariachis hat."

Copa de la Diversión began in 2018 to embrace the culture and values of the Hispanic/LatinX communities in the towns of participating teams. After 33 teams took part in the first year, 71 participated in 2019 and 92 clubs rang in 2020.

This sense of bringing people together has been especially challenging -- and perhaps even more necessary -- this summer with baseball being delayed by the pandemic.

"This was a really good way to keep fans involved in a time when you can't go out to the ballpark," said Collins. "And so we're just trying to come up with new ways -- whether it's our community art project or these graduation speeches we're doing -- we're just trying to make everybody still feel like they're a part of the community, the Isotopes community, the Mariachis community, because they are."

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