Misinformation and scheduling conflicts could bring an end to Del Rio’s latest professional baseball team before it even gets started.
Ron Wrob, the primary financial backer for the proposed Del Rio Aviators franchise of the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs, appeared before the Del Rio City Council Tuesday evening in an attempt to further answer questions from the council in regards to the proposed team.
Wrob’s biggest concern was that he was operating on a timeline for the team and needed to know as soon as possible if the city would allow the Aviators to play at Roosevelt Park.
Wrob provided a quick overview of the team and its plans for playing at Roosevelt Park, pending city council approval, but added that the biggest problem he’s encountered has been with scheduling the use of the park with the Del Rio Babe Ruth Baseball League.
Roosevelt Park is the city’s only adult baseball park and has been home to the Del Rio High School Rams baseball teams and the Babe Ruth Baseball League for several decades.
The Rams use Roosevelt typically each year from February to May. The Del Rio Babe Ruth Baseball League, which serves youth ages 13 to 17, uses Roosevelt Park from May through July depending on how far the league’s all-star teams advance in their respective postseason tournaments.
According to the Aviators’ official website, the team has home games, which would be played at Roosevelt Park if a lease between the city and the Pecos League can be agreed upon, scheduled on eight dates in May, 13 dates in June and 22 dates in July as well as three exhibition games scheduled against teams from Mexico in May, June and July.
All of the Aviators’ games are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.
Wrob said the Aviators would be willing to push back the start of its games at least one hour to accommodate any earlier games played by the Babe Ruth Baseball League.
But Babe Ruth Baseball League representatives stated its case that it would be impossible to allow multiple leagues to use the field during the summer because of the amount of games the Babe Ruth Baseball League plays.
“In looking at the schedule, the entire month of June and part of May is booked,” Alfred Lozano, player agent for the Del Rio Babe Ruth Baseball League, said.
Lozano explained how the league operates, explaining how it oversees 11 teams with 165 ballplayers with participants in a prep league (for 13 year olds), major league (for 13 to 15 year olds) and a senior league (for 15 to 17 year olds).
Lozano added that once school ends the league plays two games a day, Monday through Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the weekends reserved for make-up games due to rainouts and for playoffs.
Wrob said he wanted to work out a schedule that would be beneficial for both league, but he was unable to find a schedule for Babe Ruth Baseball. Lozano explained that the league didn’t create its schedule until it knew how many teams it would have each year and that was based on how many players registered to play.
“It’s going to be real, real difficult to try and bring (the Aviators) in. I’d love to see them here, I’d love to bring in new business and bring in some jobs – support the youth in this community. How is it going to benefit? But I don’t know how we can do that because the only available days that we have left, once high school is done, the only available days that we have left are Saturday and Sunday and we use those days for rainout games and playoff games,” Lozano said.
Lozano also added that the league would be unable to schedule its games any earlier during the summer out of courtesy for the adults in the league, including coaches, umpires, volunteers and the parents needed to transport the players to and from the field, and their work schedules.
Lozano said he also had a concern that the Aviators would attempt to recruit high schoolers to play. He said that would ruin a player’s opportunity to play college baseball.
When Wrob made his opening comments to the council he explained that the Aviators would like to try and get most of its players, as many as possible, from Del Rio and possibly Del Rio’s sister city of Ciudad Acuña, Coah., Mexico.
Wrob later added that the Aviators, and the league in general, would be an opportunity for high school players to possibly come out and play professional baseball.
According to the Pecos League’s Web site, a player must be at least 20 years old to play in the league unless special permission is granted from the league or the player has already played professional baseball and has no remaining college eligibility.
“Unfortunately we have just one baseball park,” Mayor Roberto “Bobby” Fernandez said. “I think what we need to do is sit down, quickly, and discuss some of these items. I think we’re going to have to sit down and talk about the scheduling and talk about some of the maintenance issues and things of that nature. I think we’re going around, everybody kind of doing their own thing, but eventually … I think this is the holiday season but Mr. (Robert) Eads (Del Rio City Manager) sometime next week we need to call a meeting with all the players involved and talk about what we’re going to do.”
“The way I hear it, the way I’m listening, it’s a scheduling problem. We’re going to have a scheduling problem. There’s no question about it. There’s a scheduling problem with three leagues and one field, Monday through Friday, and that’s going to be a problem. So we need to sit down and see if it’s feasible to work in the games for everyone’s satisfaction or move some around,” Fernandez added.
Eads said he would be willing to meet with the parties involved as early as Tuesday.
“Does this mean next Tuesday I will have an answer whether I can tell the league if we can play ball here or not?” Wrob asked.
“It should be a stronger indication. I think the number one issue right now is scheduling. Fees and security and liability, parking and improvements, I think we have time for that. But if the scheduling is going to be an impossibility, then we’ll know by that meeting whether it just absolutely won’t work out based on the number of projected games, in this case, until they get it more defined. You can use last year’s schedule as a starting base to see when the field was used,” Fernandez said. “We have to keep in mind that we have two agreements already; that’s the high school and Babe Ruth and we’re adding a third one. If it can be done, fantastic for baseball, but if it can’t be done I guess you need an answer right away. Hopefully by that meeting we can come to some consensus whether there’s additional details or it won’t work. I don’t know. That’s the purpose of bringing everyone together.”