Went to a baseball game last night. Not your average baseball game however. Those of us who have been to see the Venados de Mazatlán play are familiar with the party-like atmosphere where the game almost takes a back seat to the music, the beer and extracurricular activities taking place on and around the field. Last night however, was not a Venados game. Last night was El Juego de las Estrellas – or Game of the Stars. By stars, I mean the stars of Banda Music, the style of music popular in this region of Mexico. (See my earlier blog post on the subject here).
Last night featured such stars as members of Calibre 50, La Bandononoa Clave Nueva, La Adictiva Banda San Jose de Mesillas, Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda, El Komander, Roberto Junior, Diego Herrera, El Coyote, Chuy Lizarraga, El Yaqui (Banda Recodo fame), Carlos Sarabia and many more, but you get the picture. All links are to memorable YouTube videos featuring the artist.
This is an annual event although the complete history of it is unknown to me, so if you can fill me in, please leave information in the comments below. Thanks.
The event is free to the public. The event has many sponsors, but the main sponsor was radio station 102.7 who gave away the tickets. The doors were set to open around 5:00 and people were in line before 3:00 to try to get the best seat. The real best seats, the box seats and cabinas, were not available to the public. We were lucky enough to score two tickets from our niece, Vanessa, to whom we are eternally grateful. Don’t know for sure, but I believe we may have been the only two foreigners in the crowd, much like our night at Julión Alvarez, a couple of years back (blog post here). Our seats were right behind the dugout for the blue team which gave us much amusement as we watched the stars interact with fans obliging them with photos and autographs and kisses for the ladies. The volume of screaming girls was deafening at time. El Yaqui is definitely the favorite of the young girls, but Julión Alvarez was the overall fan favorite garnering much attention. He played on the yellow team, so we could only see him well when he took the field. Did I mention there was a baseball game going on?
Each team was introduced one player at a time with full name, banda affiliation and a partial recording of a song the crowd would know. The team “managers” were introduced last: both legends in the banda business. Germán Lizárraga managed the yellow team while René Camacho managed the blue team. With introductions concluded the seven-inning game finally began around 6:30. The blue team got off to an early lead and never looked back – but who cares, right? Many players were rotated out, some only playing a single inning. El Coyote was the opening pitcher for the yellow team and lasted less than an inning.
Chuy Lizarraga amused the crowd with a slow walk towards first after making contact with the ball to the infield for an easy out. Julión struck out his first time at bat, but made up for that with a single his next time up. Governor Malova showed up midway and joined the yellow team. He walked once and popped up to the shortstop the second time. This last at bat was booed by the crowd. Not sure if it was because the guy caught the ball and put the Governor out, or if they expected more from the big guy?
During the game there was a non-stop queue at each dugout to meet and greet stars. They were all extremely accommodating and gracious. Security had to intervene at times, but overall it was quite orderly. Somebody sitting in front of me was famous. I didn’t know who he was, but have since learned that he is Amilcar Gaxiola who pitched a no-hitter for the Venados this season. Thanks to our friends at Torres Mazatlan Vacation International for recognizing him and letting us know. The mystery is solved!
The house band was Banda La Corona Del Rey. There were in the stands in box seats just near the yellow team dugout. They played before the game started and during each change of sides. The vocals were often handled by the stars including Julión Alvarez, Roberto Junior and Eden Muñoz of Calibre 50. Before each player batted, the house music would change to one of their hits which helped remind us who was who at the plate.
Click any picture below to enlarge or view a slideshow.
And now you can watch this amazing video:
It was a great night for music fans and baseball fans alike. See you next year!