ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Saturday, July 23rd Isotopes Park will add 3 more members to the Albuquerque Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, which includes the creator of the Albuquerque Dukes logo Richard “Dick” Moots.
“I never expected it. When I got the call from John Traub, he says, we would like to put you into the Hall of Fame, and I said what hall of fame, and he says the baseball hall of fame. You did the Dukes logo, and I said 50 years ago, you are right. I am honored”, said Dick Moots.
Moots created the iconic logo in 1972, and it remains a popular part of Albuquerque culture and has been a symbol for the Duke City itself for generations. “I never dreamed that it would have lasted this long, and it’s because of the fans, they just really took to it, and its almost a symbol for the city these days it seems, one of them, and John Traub had a good sense to say hey, we are going to put you into the hall of fame”, said Moots.
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Moots also designed the Dukes mascot, uniform lettering, and programs, as well as the first official logo for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Joining Moots in the hall of fame on July 23rd is Dave Stewart and Ron Cey.
The Next Level Baseball Academy looks to develop and get local baseball players national recognition. Their U-16 team did get some national looks last weekend, as they participated in a USA Baseball tournament in Arizona. Next Level didn’t win that tournament, but four of their players were chosen to try out for the U-16 USA Baseball Team.
“We went out there and we played great. A lot of big kids, a lot of muscle, great talent from other states. Good talent and they showed up, they played their best and we played our best, and we showed what we could do”, said Alaijah Gonzales.
Gonzales, a soon-to-be junior at Volcano Vista, was one of the four athletes chosen for the tryout. “It’s a big deal. We had 4 kids that got selected to do that USA tryout. There was only 35 kids at that event and we were the only team that had 4 kids representing”, said Next Level Baseball Academy Recruiting Coordinator, Jamarkus James.
Gonzales is the only New Mexico representative from his team that tried out for USA Baseball, and while he hasn’t heard if he or his other teammates have made the team, just making it to this point is big for Next Level and New Mexico baseball as a whole. Next Level Academy owner, Jim Dixon knew that this tournament would be a big deal coming in, so he brought in some outside help.
“We knew this is at the highest level of baseball for youth and who better than to reach out to my good friend Ray Birmingham”, said Jim Dixon. “He is humble enough and hard working enough to ask me what should he do here and there, and its good because its a team effort to make New Mexico baseball players and kids that play baseball better people”, said Ray Birmingham.
Former UNM Baseball Coach Ray Birmingham has been helping the kids at Next Level Academy and being a former coach for USA Baseball, his presence was huge for these players. “He was a DI coach and everyone wants to go DI. HE talked about a lot of things, he taught us what people look for in a player. You have to be a good person, you have to hustle, be on the grind”, said Gonzales.
New Mexico United got back in the win column on Wednesday night, with a 1-0 victory over Rio Grande Valley Toros. This victory marked the Black and Yellow’s first in Albuquerque since May 24th. Justin Portillo was the man of the match, after he sunk the go-ahead goal in the 2nd half off of a PK.
NM United now sits in 5th place in the USL Western Conference, as they hold an 8 win, 3 loss, and 5 draw record. NM United will now have a quick turnaround and will play the same team next on Saturday. NM United vs. RGV round 2, will kick off at 7 pm on Saturday at Isotopes Park.