Before the Chihuahuas, baseball was Browns, Diablos | Lifestyle
With the El Paso Chihuahuas season in full swing, I’m reminded of my years covering the former El Paso professional baseball team.
I started as a rookie sportswriter at the El Paso Herald-Post. Bob Ingram, as sports editor, covered the team full time. But when he was on vacation, I was designated as a pinch-hitter to cover the team.
I soon learned the team had different names. Bob Ingram wrote a book titled “From Browns to Diablos.” In it, he detailed the origin of the team. First, they were the Browns. That was the first team that was mentioned in the newspaper. Then came other names. Even the Los Angeles Dodgers sponsored the team for a few years.
The first baseball park was built in Washington Park in south Central El Paso. It consisted of rough-hewn boards where people could sit for 25 cents apiece. If they would stand, admission was free.
Later, Rio Grande Park was built across the street from KROD radio and soon-to-be television station. I know. The radio station held a spelling bee in which I participated. I was attending Morehead Elementary School as a young student then.
THEN CAME DUDLEY FIELD in 1925. It was originally called Athletic Park but was changed to honor R.M. Dudley, one of El Paso’s most popular mayors. Unfortunately, he died while in office in 1926.
Other memories I have of the professional team:
The name of El Paso’s professional team when Dudley Field opened was named the Colts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy and Syd Cohen. Both started their playing careers at the old Rio Grande Park. Andy went on to a successful career as manager in the Minor Leagues. Andy also had a brief career in the Major Leagues with the New York Giants. Syd Cohen had a successful pitching career for the El Paso professional team.
George Simpson, a local druggist who had a pipeline to Georgia and Ty Cobb, brought several major league teams to El Paso. In 1951, he actually brought the New York Yankees to Dudley Field in which Mickey Mantle hit one of his towering homeruns.
I also covered the El Paso game in which Jose Cardenal, who had been sent to the El Paso professional team, allegedly went into the opposing team’s dugout armed with a knife.
And then there was Diablos owner Jim Paul, who was so successful with promotions at Dudley Field that they built a brand new stadium for him called Cohen Stadium. The stadium was torn down in 2019 to make way for a new city water park named Camp Cohen, which opened over the Memorial Day weekend.
And now we have the El Paso Chihuahuas, who were an instant success. Together with the city, MountainStar Sports Group built Southwest University Park for the team to play in. It opened in 2014 (and now is also the home of the El Paso Locomotive FC).
Ah, baseball. I have such pleasant memories of the of the sport. And I’ll always treasure them.
Veteran sports journalist, historian and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. His column periodically runs in El Paso Inc.’s B-Section. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by email at [email protected] or online at raysanchezbooks.com.