Sept. 19, 2007
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--- It's never too early to get excited about Lobo Baseball.
As Homecoming approaches, so too does the annual Baseball Alumni weekend, set for September 27-29. A variety of activities are scheduled for the weekend as baseball alumni come out in full force for a time dedicated to history, pride and tradition.
Walt Arnold, who led the Lobos in home runs from 1978-1980, teamed up with Lobo head coach Ray Birmingham as well as former teammates Rick Ronquillo and Ernie Blackstone to plan the weekend's events.
"The game serves as a great way to get the alumni involved and aware of the current team. It also allows alumni to meet alumni and revisit old friends," said Arnold.
Arnold and Birmingham both agree that the weekend serves as a way to promote community, spirit and excitement about Lobo baseball.
"The Alumni Game is a great way to get everybody together before the season starts," said Birmingham. "I am looking forward to a big turnout from former players and current students."
"I want everybody," continued Birmingham. "If you chased a foul ball for a Lobo baseball game, I want you here. If you wore a Lobo baseball t-shirt at anytime in your life, I want you here. If you dreamed about being a Lobo, but weren't, I want you here. I want Lobo people."
According to Arnold, Birmingham has made tremendous efforts to reach out and get alumni involved since he and his staff arrived this summer.
"Coach Birmingham is enthusiastic and his enthusiasm is contagious," Arnold said.
Birmingham also stresses the importance of recognizing the history, tradition and pride of Lobo baseball. Birmingham remembers some of his favorite Lobo alumni and the success they have had on and off the field.
"There are so many legendary alumni in baseball at the University of New Mexico," said Birmingham. "People who have not just gone on to baseball careers, but have gone on to careers in private business and are extremely successful."
Lobo alumni certainly hold a key place in Birmingham's heart as he recalls several players that are special to him.
Among them are Larry Harrison, who played for the Lobos in the early 1980s, as well as Kyle Rutledge, who was a Lobo from 1976-79.
"Sam Suplizio was a first team All-American. That guy was a legend, and he was a Lobo. Mark Johnson, who is one of the greatest Division I coaches in the history of college baseball, is a Lobo. Then, to top that off, Pete Domenici, one of the greatest Senators in the history of the American Congress, is a Lobo."
Arnold, a successful professional himself in the Albuquerque area, says the atmosphere surrounding the weekend is one of great memories and reliving stories.
"It is a time to reconnect stories, as some will remember one story and others will remember another part of the story," said Arnold. "It is similar to putting together a memory puzzle."
"I want my players to feel what the alumni have done and the accomplishments they've had," said Birmingham. "I want them to take pride in who they are and build on that tradition and that history of knowing who you are and the responsibility you have, not only to yourself, your parents and your institution, but to Lobos of previous times."
The activities will begin on Thursday, Sept. 27, with a happy hour at Coaches Bar and Grill on 1414 Central Ave. SE starting at 6:30 p.m.
A four-person scramble golf tournament is slated for noon on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Santa Ana Golf Club.
The Alumni Game will take place on Saturday, Sept. 29. Batting practice begins at 10 a.m. on Lobo Field with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at Isotopes Park. A tailgate party will follow the game at 4 p.m. before the Lobos face-off against BYU in the Homecoming football game.
Registration forms for the weekend's activities can be found on the baseball page at www.golobos.com.
"I want everybody to come," Birmingham said. "I want raving Lobos."