Minor-league baseball thrives in Albuquerque, apparently all because of some clever name: The so-so Dukes petered out a while back, but a fresh franchise, under the name of the Albuquerque Isotopes, has been drawing crowds since 2003.
It’s hard to judge whether the appeal is the cool Isotopes Park (1601 Avenida Cesar Chavez NE, 505/883-7800, www.albuquerquebaseball.com), the whoopee-cushion theme nights, or just the name, drawn from an episode of The Simpsons. Regardless, a summer night under the ballpark lights, cheering for the ’Topes, is undeniably pleasant; it helps that you can get in the door for $6, and the best seats are just $24.
For an even smaller-scale ball game, you can head up to the ball field at Santa Ana pueblo (near Bernalillo), home of the Tamaya Tigers, where semipro pueblo teams, as well as Navajo teams from Shiprock and Gallup, face off all summer long. (Isotopes Park then hosts the All-Indian All-Star Playoffs when the pueblo tournament season wraps up in mid-September.)
Albuquerqueans also go crazy for UNM Lobos basketball, packing the raucous University Arena, a.k.a. “The Pit” (Avenida Cesar Chavez at University Blvd., 505/925-5626, www.golobos.com).
In the winter, you can catch a hockey game, represented by the New Mexico Scorpions (www.scorpionshockey.com) at Santa Ana Star Center in Bernalillo.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition