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Indios de Mayagüez
League LBPPR
Location Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
Ballpark Luis A. Canena Marquez Stadium in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, formerly played at Isidoro García Baseball Stadium
Year Founded 1938
League championships 1949, 1957, 1963, 1966, 1978, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005
Caribbean World Series championships 1978, 1992
Uniforms
Team colors
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Team colors
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Home

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Away

The Indios de Mayagüez (English: Mayagüez Indians) are a baseball team in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League (LBPPR, in Spanish). Normally based in Mayagüez, the Indios have won 15 national championships and two Caribbean World Series.[1] It is one of four teams remaining from the original six incorporated into the LBPPR at its founding in 1938.

The Indios were named after the Cervecería India (the local brewery, and its formal sponsor over most of the team's 70-year run) besides the fact that Mayagüez, located at the western coast of Puerto Rico, has a strong indigenous heritage, starting with the city's name (which is derived from the Taino language). The team's colors are burgundy, red and gold, which at one time were the colors on the label of Cerveza India, the original flagship product of the brewery which promoted the team and served as base for its name.[2] The Cervecería India's current flagship product, Cerveza Medalla Light, is now the team's official endorser.

As their home stadium, Isidoro García Baseball Stadium, is being reconstructed to host the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, the Indios have been forced to relocate temporarily to nearby Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. They currently play at Luis A. Canena Marquez Stadium, under the name "Indios-Tiburones", a marketing concept that evokes the Tiburones de Aguadilla (Aguadilla Sharks), a now-defunct LBPPR team that was active in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Indios de Mayagüez team is the second team with the most championship wins in PRBL history. At a time when most Puerto Rican cities and towns are better known for their support of basketball or volleyball teams, the city of Mayagüez remains as a strong baseball stronghold in the island nation. The team's fan base has a reputation for loyalty bordering in the extreme, and average game attendance by Indios fans has been consistently high (and at times the highest) in the Puerto Rico winter league during recent seasons.

At any given year -should the Indios make it to the LBPPR tournament playoffs- assistance to the team's baseball park and post-game celebrations tend to be particularly high because they usually coincide with the celebration of the patron saint feasts (fiestas patronales) for the city of Mayagüez; it is not unusual for a championship game to coincide with Candlemas (2 February) or Candlemas Eve.

The Indios' management team is led by its owner, Daniel Aquino Méndez. Dan Rohn was the team's manager during the 2006-2007 season.

Contents

The early years

Mayagüez had a semi-professional baseball team prior to 1938. Once the LBPPR was created, the Mayagüez team became a part of it.[3] A management team led by Alfonso Valdés Cobián owned the team during its initial years.

The Indios won their first LBPPR championship in 1949. Originally the Indios played their home games in the facilities of La Liga de Paris.[2] The team moved from their previous grounds to then-new Isidoro García Baseball Stadium, located near the southwest corner of the city, later that year.

The Babel Pérez era

Babel Pérez assumed the management of the Indios after Alfonso Valdés. (He had been worked for Don Alfonso since the late '40s) The Indios won two championships under his helm, in 1962-1963 and 1965-1966. Joe Christopher was a major player for the Indios during the period.[4]

Pérez died suddenly in Bamberg, Germany in 1971, while visiting one of his daughters and new grandson. Gloria Mendez, widow of Babel Perez, owned the team until its sale in 1974, entering into baseball history as the first female to own a baseball team.

The Luis Gómez Monagas era

A new management team lead by Luis Gómez Monagas, a successful insurance businessman, and father of Christianna Gomez. (and later one-time Uncle-in-law of Colombian actor and folk singer Carlos Vives) bought the Indios in 1974. At the time, after winning the 1965 - 66 league championship the Indios had had a dry spell, having earned only two championships in more than 15 years and consistently ending in last place in every LBPPR tournament between the 1966 - 67 season and the 1973-74 season, except the 1969-70, when the team made the playoffs in a very surprising fashion. And also twice have been threats to move the franchise twice to the city of Bayamon, without any success, thanks to the fans who avoided the move of the franchise and finally the franchise stayed in Mayagüez. To make matters worse, the Isidoro García baseball stadium was in such state of disrepair that it was literally unsafe for fans, players and field keepers.

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The historic 1977-1978 team

The 1977-1978 team literally saved the franchise from bankruptcy and oblivion. Managed by Rene Lacheman, and provided with a powerful lineup that featured Ron LeFlore, Jim Dwyer, Kurt Bevacqua and José Manuel Morales in the 1-4 spots, the team barely made it to the playoffs, to consequently sweep the semi-final and final series. The final game for the series had Mayagüez beat the coincidentally named Bayamón Cowboys with a score of 18-2. The team eventually made it to Mazatlán, Mexico, where it won the 1978 Caribbean World Series.

This was a turning point in the team's history. Fan support gave the Indios' management team enough financial solvency to save the franchise. From winning only three championships in 40 years, the team went on to win 12 championships in the 28 years following the 1978 season. Collective fan protests demanded repairs to the baseball stadium from its owner, the then-named Parks and Leisure Administration of Puerto Rico (now called the Puerto Rico Department of Recreation and Sports), a government agency that still owns and controls the facility despite offers from the municipality of Mayagüez to purchase or maintain it. The stadium was remodeled soon after (1980).The Indios under Gomez ownership went on to win four more championships{83-84.85,86,87-88,88-89 } for a total of five during his tenure.

The Luis Iván Méndez era

In 1989 Gomez sold the team to Luis Iván Méndez, a former commentator for the team's radio broadcasts. This was a controversial move, since Méndez's extreme passion for the team was viewed with skepticism by some local fans, who considered him to be brash, arrogant, and motivated chiefly by money. As a broadcaster, Méndez had been a devil's advocate during the team's lean years, providing much necessary feedback to improve its lineup, but his comments were rather blunt at times, something that alienated team fans (he was even confrontational with a few of them). The fact that Méndez was the first non-native of the city to own the team (Méndez is a native of nearby San Sebastián, Puerto Rico) did not help. Some fans even suspected Méndez of wanting to move the team to his hometown, which had a successful AA League franchise.

Objectively, though, Méndez not only attempted to raise fan support to a near-religious status, but was also responsible for five championships and three runner-up spots. He was responsible for establishing or endorsing many team rituals, changing the team's colors to burgundy and gold, and even demanding that the Indios wear their own uniform (and not wear one with the name "Puerto Rico") when going to the Caribbean World Series. Many fans decided to have a love-hate relationship with Méndez, praising his business smarts and baseball acumen while hating him personally.

The Daniel Aquino era

Méndez, who had grown tired of public criticism against him (and who faced a suspension from the LBPPR for assaulting a league peer), sold ownership of the team to Daniel Aquino, a native of the Dominican Republic who had earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from the nearby University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. The fans' reaction to Aquino, who was once the owner of the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican winter league, made the backlash against Méndez pale in comparison. Aquino had experienced considerable criticism in his home country for "watering down" the Leones' roster due to escalating payroll costs. Xenophobia played a role in criticism against Aquino, who repeatedly countered by saying that he had strong personal ties to Puerto Rico and Mayagüez, and that after his experience with the Leones' he had realized that he would not jump into managing any other baseball team if he didn't have a personal take on the team's outcome.

However, Aquino has proved to be a successful owner, helped in part by the inclusion of yet another controversial (and very vocal) baseball executive, Carlos Pieve, to his management team (this time as general manager). Aquino's first year as owner had the Indios win a league championship (2003), only to have them end up last the following year (2004), and subsequently win yet another championship the next year (2005). The team lost the 2006 final series against the Gigantes de Carolina and lost again against the team in the semifinal round of the 2007 playoffs.[5]

Puerto Rico Baseball League

On November 18, 2009, the Lobos defeated the Indios.[6] After defeating the Indios on November 19, 2009, the Gigantes gained the league's lead for a brief period of time.[7] On November 25, 2009, the Indios defeated the Leones to win their fourth game of the season.[8]

Best known former MLB players

Major League Baseball players who played with the Indios include Tommy Lasorda, Ron LeFlore, Kurt Bevacqua, Bobby Bonilla, Lance Parrish, Paul O'Neill, Ken Caminiti, Zack Greinke, Doug Glanville, Harold Reynolds, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Dennis Martinez, Roberto Hernandez and Wally Joyner.

Local MLB stars who were also part of the Indios are Wil Cordero and Jose Vidro. Cordero was raised at the Cócora section of town, across the street from Isidoro García Baseball Stadium.

LBPPR Championships (team managers)

The Mayagüez All-Time All-Star Team

On December 2003 a panel of five local sport newscasters announced their picks for an all-time Indios de Mayagüez All-Time All Star Team. This selection considered candidates from Indios teams from the previous 65 years. Their selected team lists as follows:

Retired Numbers

Number Name Position
4 Humberto "Pita" Martí Catcher
13 Ceferino "Cefo" Conde Pitcher
21 Roberto Clemente Walker (retired from all LBPPR teams) Right Fielder
23 Luis "Mambo" de León Pitcher

Indios iconography and traditions

Los Indios de mi pueblo and posthumous homage

Ramón S. Olivencia, a long-time news anchorman for various Puerto Rican news radio stations, and who was born in Mayagüez, made a habit of mentioning "Los Indios de mi pueblo" ("My hometown's Indians") instead of reading the team's name, whenever he had to read baseball scores from the previous night on his broadcasts. The phrase stuck and it is still in common use, long after Olivencia's passing. It is usually the reference in use by native "mayagüezanos" when referring to the team.

The Indios de Mayagüez were initially sponsored by the local Cervecería India, founded in 1938 by local businessman Alfonso Valdés Cobián. After Valdés' passing, the initials "AVC" were permanently added to the left sleeve of all team uniforms, in honor of the team's first owner.

Indio de Mayagüez, the team's mascot

Since the late 1970s, and well into the early 2000s, the "Indio de Mayagüez" character has become an unofficial cheerleader of the team. The Indio is namely a costumed fan wearing a woolen poncho and feathered headdress who demands cheers from the audience for the local team and boos for the visitors.[11] The Indio then finishes his session by placing a handkerchief (or a banner borrowed from a fan) on one side of the Indios dugout's roof, walking to the opposite side, and then running and sliding towards the handkerchief to pick it up head-first, as if he were stealing a base.[11]

At one time during the late 1990s, the cheerleader sled past the dugout's roof and landed on a nearby staircase, fracturing a leg and three ribs. After a long convalescence, the Indio returned to his usual chanting grounds on top of the stadium's first base dugout, calling for cheers wearing a cast and crutches. At times the Indio is allowed into the infield, runs the bases, and steals home plate.

Radio broadcasts

The Indios de Mayagüez radio broadcast crew has had one constant member during the last twenty-nine years (as of 2007), radio announcer Arturo Soto Cardona. A native of nearby San Sebastián, Puerto Rico, Soto's has been narrating Indios' games since 1977.

Fiercely territorial as some Indios fans are, a common practice for many of them is to turn the volume down on television broadcasts featuring the Indios, and turning a radio set on to the official Indios radio broadcast, which is aired on station WABA (850 kHz) and various other repeater stations along the western and southern coasts of the island. Soto's vocal inflections are so well recognized by fans that by just listening to his voice many can identify the difference between a pop-up fly and a hit before the ball actually lands.

A former member of the broadcast team, commercial spot coordinator David Castro had a reputation for having attended all Indios games home and abroad (except for one non-local game during the early 1960s) since the team's inception in 1938 until his retirement in 2005.

References

  1. ^ Edwin Kako Vazquez. "Los Indios de Mayaguez Puerto Rico 2006-2007". 1-800-Beisbol. http://1800beisbol.com/baseball/Deportes/Beisbol_Puerto_Rico/Los_Indios_de_Mayaguez_Puerto_Rico_2006-2007/. Retrieved 2007-01-05.  
  2. ^ a b "Beisbol de Puerto Rico Resumen Primera Semana Nov 14". 1-800-Beisbol. http://1800beisbol.com/baseball/Deportes/Beisbol_Puerto_Rico/Beisbol_de_Puerto_Rico_Resumen_Primera_Semana_Nov_14/. Retrieved 2009-01-05.  
  3. ^ Edwin Kako Vazquez. "Historia Beisbol de Puerto Rico". 1-800-Beisbol. http://1800beisbol.com/baseball/Deportes/Beisbol_Puerto_Rico/Historia_Beisbol_de_Puerto_Rico/. Retrieved 2008-01-05.  
  4. ^ Joe Christopher
  5. ^ Edwin Kako Vazquez. "Beisbol de Puerto Rico La Serie Final 2006 2007". 1-800-Beisbol. http://1800beisbol.com/baseball/Deportes/Beisbol_Puerto_Rico/Beisbol_de_Puerto_Rico_La_Serie_Final_2006_2007/. Retrieved 2008-01-05.  
  6. ^ "Arecibo y Carolina ganan en el béisbol profesional" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2009-11-9. http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/beisbol/acciondeportiva/arecibo_y_carolina_ganan_en_el_beisbol_profesional/345217.  
  7. ^ "Gigantes de Carolina se consolidan al tope de la liga invernal boricua" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2009-11-20. http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/beisbol/acciondeportiva/gigantes_de_carolina_se_consolidan_al_tope_de_la_liga_invernal_boricua/345432. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  8. ^ "Despiertan los Indios" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2009-11-26. http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/beisbol/accion_deportiva/despiertan_los_indios/346692. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  9. ^ Santiago, Carlos Manuel - Negro Leagues Star
  10. ^ Wilson, Artie - Negro League Baseball Player
  11. ^ a b Joe Connor (2006-01-16). "Welcome to Puerto Rico". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/worldclassic2006/news/story?id=2291369. Retrieved 2008-01-06.  

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