The award-winning Mariachi Plata de Western New Mexico University was invited to perform in Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park during the Mariachis de Nuevo México promotional game against the El Paso Chihuahuas on Tuesday, September 14.
Plus, the honor of throwing the first pitch will be given to WNMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jack Crocker, who is best known as a poet and songwriter but also has a storied baseball background having once pitched at the semi-pro level and been scouted by the Detroit Tigers.
As the only competitive university mariachi in the state, Mariachi Plata de WNMU regularly delivers award-winning performances at showcases like Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque and at events throughout southwest New Mexico. The chance to play for a new audience in an 11,000-seat outdoor venue excites the student members, who have had few occasions to don their traje and share their talents since March 2020.
“Our students passionately represent our musical tradition while embracing their modern identities — a practice we encourage as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an idea that’s embodied by the Isotopes’ Mariachis de Nuevo México series,” said Bryant Chaffino, who is the director of Mariachi Plata de WNMU.
In preparation for delivering the ceremonial first pitch, Dr. Crocker reflects on being recruited to Delta State University by Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer David “Boo” Ferris and approaching the mound as the starting pitcher for the first game Ferris coached there in 1960. After summers playing in semi-pro leagues, Dr. Crocker chose a graduate fellowship in English over a potential baseball career with the Detroit Tigers.
“While I had an adequate fast ball and change-up, my go-to pitch was a curve,” said Dr. Crocker. “My athlete’s heart is still there, and my right arm experiences a twinge every spring when baseball season begins.”
Fifty members of the WNMU Alumni Association Albuquerque Chapter will enjoy free tickets and box seats.
“Our Albuquerque Chapter is essential in building strong and cohesive communities of alumni statewide. Joining the chapter provides alumni with opportunities to serve as ambassadors and volunteer leaders while maintaining connections through alumni programs and events,” said WNMU Alumni Director Amanda Moffett Lane.
WNMU representatives will interact with attendees through a booth on the Isotopes concourse, and the university’s ensemble will be showcased through graphics on the stadium’s video board and public address announcements.