The second incarnation of the El Paso Diablos (independent; American Association) came to an end yesterday, as the team wrapped up its season and history at Cohen Stadium.
The original Diablos and flamboyant owner Jim Paul are still remembered fondly in some Minor League Baseball circles: an aggressive promoter whose approach to giveaways and promote are now standard practices in professional baseball. The original Diablos of the Class AA Texas League attracted 300,000 fans a year at a time when that was a sky-high figure. But after Paul sold the team, its fortunes faded and the franchise was moved to Springfield. That’s when the independent American Association moved in, buying the Diablos marks and setting up shop in Cohen Stadium.
Yesterday saw the last Diablos game at Cohen Stadium; with the Tucson Padres (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) moving to a new downtown ballpark, it makes little sense for the team to continue operations, and in fact the team has accepted a lease buyout from the city. From the El Paso Times:
Only a few hundred fans sprawled over the thousands of Cohen Stadium seats during this week’s final homestand. The weekend was a bit better. But Wednesday night brought out only 300 to 400. Still, some were there, enjoying a warm summer night, a gentle breeze, a little baseball and a farewell.
“We went to games in Dudley Field when we were dating in 1975,” said 53-year-old Rene Morales, who was there with his wife of 30 years, Connie. “It was a great place to go. Baseball and tickets were sometimes free and parking was free and concessions were cheap. We lived closer to Dudley, so it was easier for us. But we’ve been coming to Cohen all along, too. It’s going to be sad … very sad.”
Connie Morales said, “We have all the Diablo souvenirs from over the years — bats and caps and those ice cream cup helmets and everything. And Paul Strelzin made it so much fun. We’re here tonight (Wednesday) and we’ll be here every night to the end. It’s going to be sad.”
Meanwhile, bonds for the new ballpark have been sold at a slightly higher rate than anticipated.
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