Baseball bid strikes out

Kevin Wilson

An effort to put professional baseball in Clovis has struck out.

The independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs pulled association with the Pioneers on Monday afternoon, replacing them on the league website with the Ruidoso Osos.

League Commissioner Andrew Dunn said, “I don’t see how we can make it work” financially with the Pioneers.

He noted an inability to sell alcohol at Bell Park, a high lease charge at the school-owned park and an inability to play elsewhere due to youth leagues receiving priority.

Following Dunn’s Wednesday meeting with Clovis Municipal Schools to lease Bell Park for the games, Clovis Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said Dunn approached him and sought a new field.

“Whenever the school came out with their proposal, I knew it was dead then,” Bizzell said. “He wanted to play all of the games on Harris Field, and we can’t kick the kids off there. That field was built for our youth.”

Dunn said originally the Pioneers would need to sell 200 season tickets to be near a break-even point, but the team had not yet begun selling tickets.

The Osos will start their 68-game schedule in Clovis’ old position — May 10, hosting the Roswell Invaders.

The Pioneers started with a solid foundation, including Clovis native John Harris as manager. But things went south quickly after Harris took the manager position for the Amarillo Sox of the American Association.

The league would have needed Harris to perform functions above those of other Pecos League clubs, since the Pioneers did not have a general manager in place.

Dunn said in a worst-case scenario, he would like to play a neutral-site series in Clovis in the independent league’s inaugural season. Also, Bizzell said Dunn was open to trying to put the Pioneers back in place for the league’s 2012 season.

The original Clovis Pioneers, who played in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, enjoyed affiliations with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds.

Teams in the Pecos League include Roswell, Ruidoso, the Alpine Cowboys, the Carlsbad Bats, the Las Cruces Vaqueros and the White Sands Pupfish.