Some of the best young baseball players in the Four Corners have a chance to get to the hall of fame.
While enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum may be a long reach away, the Durango Yard Dawgs team of 12-year-old players has a chance to play this summer in the Cooperstown Dream Park tournament in New York with more than 100 teams from across the country.
To get there, they will need some support from their communities.
“I have been looking forward to this opportunity ever since I started coaching these kids in (8-and-under),” said Yard Dawgs coach Marco Lucero. “It is always amazing to have the community behind you. I have said I want the Four Corners to be a hot spot for baseball. If Bayfield is good, if Durango is good, if Farmington is good, it only makes the region that much better. Without community support, we couldn’t make this tournament possible. With their support, we are able to make a dream come true.”
The cost to attend the tournament is $1,295 per player and coach, so the team needs to raise roughly $20,000 to make the trip. The team has been able to raise an estimated 50% of that total but must come up with the other half by March 1.
The Yard Dawgs are made up of players from Aztec, Bayfield, Cortez, Durango and Farmington. Together, they’ve won big tournaments such as the National Championship Sports TPS Smashing Pumpkins tournament last fall.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Lucero said. “In the beginning, it was a challenge as we could never get enough kids the same age to put a full team together. So the first three years, we actually had to play a year up because a few of my kids were a year older, so I had enough for a team. Last year was the first year I was actually able to put a full team together of kids all the same age.”
This year has been particularly tough on the Yard Dawgs because of COVID-19. The four players from Aztec and Farmington haven’t been able to work out regularly with the players from Colorado because of New Mexico’s public health guidelines. The team normally trains as a team in Farmington, but the Yard Dawgs haven’t been able to do that for the last nine months. With snow now on the fields in Durango, the boys haven’t been able to get outside and practice together.
Lucero hopes the trip to Cooperstown, New York, would be an added boost to the young boys after a tough year of uncertainty when all they have wanted to do is play together.
“This is the first year that we will be going into every game knowing we have a chance to win,” he said. “It would be a true blessing to represent the Four Corners in New York.”
While the team has accepted donations to its team Venmo account, @Dgo-Dawgs, it has also started a raffle fundraiser with $10 tickets. There are nine prizes, including everything from Yeti coolers filled with spirits to carpet cleaning services and auto detailing as well as gift cards, an Apple watch and a smart TV.
It’s part of the creative ways the Yard Dawgs have arranged to try to get to baseball’s most famous town.
“None of our kids or parents have ever been to the hall of fame,” Lucero said. “It’s like the Mecca in the baseball world. I have two friends whose kids went when they were 12, and they said it was an amazing experience.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the Durango Yard Dawgs can make a donation on the team’s Venmo or contact coach Lucero at [email protected]