One of America’s Great Ballfields

Oscar Huber Ballpark, Madrid, NM, March 2011

Oscar Huber Ballpark, Madrid, NM, March 2011

Many years ago, as a young pup of a reporter, I was sent to Madrid, NM, on a quiet Saturday to chronicle an old-timers day in the old mining town-turned art colony.

Madrid’s community center sits next to the Oscar Huber Ballpark which, legend has it, was the first lighted baseball field west of the Mississippi. The legend has enough different versions – first in New Mexico? first in the entire US? – that I remain, in professional terms, a skeptic. As in, I’d never put it in the newspaper without a bit more investigation.

But whatever the roots of the story, it is a wonderful ballfield, carved into a hillside at the north end of town. The ballpark dates to the 1920s, and the Madrid Miners were apparently quite the home nine in their day. When I visited for old-timers day, I rounded up a couple of the guys who had played on the Miners and dragged them out to the infield to tell stories. The field was just dirt flecked with little bits of hard black coal – they hadn’t played ball there for years. But the old grandstands were still there, home to Madrid’s annual blues festival.

Lissa and I stopped by last weekend on our way up to Santa Fe to see the new grandstand they’ve just completed – a replica of the old.

Still lovely.