It was snowing earlier when I walked over to Taos High's baseball field to talk with some of the Blizzard players.
They were all in good spirits though and excited for the season to start. On Wednesday (May 14), they'll play their first game at Santa Fe and on Friday (May 16) they'll play their first home game, at 7 p.m., under the lights at THS, a.k.a., the Taos Tundra — which it certainly resembled today.
The team's manager, Chris Tuttle, told me that one of his team's top goals is to bring a championship ring back to Taos.
One of the biggest obstacles the Blizzard are facing right now, however, is off of the the field. Eighteen of the team's 22 players are still in need of a host family. The vast majority of the players on the team are recent college grads trying to keep their dreams of playing pro ball alive. Since they only make $50 a week playing in the Pecos League, however, host families are essential for their survival. Host families give the players a home away from home, a place to do their laundry, and provide the players with groceries to eat.
Tuttle played two seasons in the Pecos League, for the Trinidad Triggers, and said he still keeps in touch with his former host families. He also said he helped out around the house as much as he could, mowing their lawn, staining and painting a garage and anything else they needed. "These boys are willing to do the same," the manager said.
Host families are a new part of the Blizzard experience. Last year the Blizzard were mostly a travel team, only playing 12 or 13 games, I believe, in Taos. They didn't even live here. They lived in Las Vegas because it was right on I-25, making it more convenient for them to travel to their games. This year the Blizzard have 38 home games scheduled so they'll need to live here.
Last year when Santa Fe played here, there were probably more Fuego fans in the stands than Taos fans. Pretty much all of the Fuego fans were host families, but they weren't just fans in the stands, they seemed like they part of the Fuego team.
If hosting a ball player isn't something you're able to do, you can still support the team by attending their games which, if nothing else, will help give them a home-field advantage here in Taos. (They're pretty fun to watch).
And if you're interested in giving a ballplayer a home for the next few months, you can contact the team's manager at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Oh yeah, tomorrow (May 13), "The Pecos League" TV show will debut on Fox Sports 1, at 7:30 p.m. From what I've heard about the show, it will show a side of baseball in the lower leagues that nobody knows about — the side that is far from glamorous. Check it out and I think you'll see what these guys are going through to keep their dreams alive.