Baskett fans switching team allegiance

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Joaquin, left, and Mauricio Madril of Clovis show Mauricio’s Hank Baskett collection. Mauricio has followed Baskett since his days at Clovis High School and became an Indianapolis Colts fan on his birthday Thursday, the same day the Colts signed Baskett.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

A week after the Philadelphia Eagles released Hank Baskett, Clovis is still covered with the green No. 84 jerseys the Clovis native used to sport.

It may be a while before the city gets taken over by Baskett’s new uniform, a blue-and-white Indianapolis Colts No. 81. But the Clovis allegiance to the Colts is already starting.

“I think a lot of people in Clovis were (Dallas) Cowboy fans until Hank went to the Eagles,” said Joaquin Madril of Clovis. “Now I think they’ll follow suit. They’ll be Colt fans as long as Baskett’s there. We’re proud of him.”

Joaquin’s son, Mauricio, is a prime example. He stayed up late Monday to watch Baskett play on special teams in Indianapolis’ 27-23 win over the Miami Dolphins, and has followed Baskett from high school to the University of New Mexico to the Eagles to the Colts.

Joaquin Madril said his son, who has Down syndrome, was in Clovis High’s special education department in the fall of 2000, Baskett’s senior year as a Wildcat.

“My family has never been into sports,” Joaquin Madril said. “We never watched sports until Mauricio came along. Whenever Hank went to the NFL, every time he played it was like Super Bowl Sunday here. The whole family got involved.”

Now, Mauricio has a jersey signed by Baskett, and sisters and brothers have showered him with merchandise from whatever team employs the 2001 Clovis High graduate. Coincidentally, Mauricio’s 30th birthday was Thursday, the day the Colts signed Baskett.

Dee Madrid, who runs the Sports Connection and has stocked Baskett’s jerseys, said she’s seen a lot of switches like the Madrils’ and has already gotten dozens of requests for the Colts jersey.

However, she said her plan is to hold off for the 2009 season for a few reasons. First off, it’s well past the deadline for a large amount of jersey orders — that deadline was the same reason Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco had to wear jerseys with “Johnson” on the back because he didn’t notify Reebok of his legal name change in time.

Second, Madrid has to take a huge risk with Baskett jerseys. With a jersey of Lovington native and Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher, for instance, ordering five jerseys is easy because Reebok is printing up thousands of them anyway.

For Baskett, the minimum order is 150.

“They’re going to print up (Urlacher jerseys) automatically because it’s a guaranteed sale,” Madrid said. “With Baskett, people wanted him in Clovis, people wanted him in the surrounding areas, and people wanted him in Philadelphia.

“They don’t sell by the tens of thousands or get sold worldwide, so the (seller) has to put up extra money.”

Meanwhile, Madrid said other Colts merchandise is selling very well, and people who were Colts fans before are ecstatic.

Kim Chisum of Clovis has long been a fan of the Colts, and of Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning.

“It can’t get much better having Hank and Peyton together,” Chisum said of Baskett, whose went to UNM around the same time as her two daughters. “The thing that’s in Hank’s favor is he is extremely, extremely smart. He should catch on to that offense pretty quick.”

Madrid said she’s working to do a autographed cap fundraiser to benefit Oasis, Baskett’s designated charity.

Tom Martin, owner of Taco Box in Clovis, got an autographed Eagles Baskett jersey through one of those fundraisers — one of many Philly No. 84 jerseys framed in Clovis businesses.

“Obviously, I felt bad for Hank (when he was released),” Martin said. “The jersey didn’t concern me. His wife has an income, sure, but he was just starting married life and there was a kid on the way. You don’t want him to be out of a job.”

Now that Baskett’s back with another team, Martin’s waiting for a chance to bid on a signed Colts jersey. And he’ll keep the Eagles jersey up at the business.

“To me, it’s Hank,” Martin said. “We’ve got a picture up there he signed when he was playing for UNM. These are just stages of Hank’s career.”