The Ballpark in the 1920s
In the early 1900's Oscar Huber was hired by the Albuquerque Coal Company to manage the small mining town of Madrid with a specific purpose to decrease mining accidents and improve mining output. Oscar quickly realized that many of the accidents were caused by over worked, over stressed and over 'served' miners. To address this problem, he started the Madrid Employees Club which funded 'after work' community activities which included softball games. The Miners from each of the mines formed their own team. After work the mining 'league' would play softball. This quickly grew from the men's league to a AA Minor League Team called the Madrid Miners. The Miners began winning pennants and became a popular team to come watch. They had fans from Albuquerque and Santa Fe who would drive out their 'tin lizzie' and tailgate the games. Up to 6000 visitors would attend ball games in an area that was home to just over 3000 residents. Rival teams included the Albuquerque Dons, Santa Fe Loosens, Las Vegas Maroons, and Bernalillo Lumberjacks. Fans learned to love the Miner's pitcher EJ "Chief" Bowles, and their amazing hitters Johnny "Red" Garcia, and Harry "Pop" Stowers.
In the early 1920's the construction on the Oscar Huber Ballpark was started with the grandstand construction completed in 1928. The grandstand's unique tin roof gave the ball field a unique look and easily identifiable in photographs. The Madrid ballpark was the first lighted ballpark in New Mexico and possibly North America. In addition, the Madrid ball field was turned into a Christmas wonderland with large cutouts of "Geppetto" and "Pinocchio," Ferris Wheel and miniature train set that children could ride around the outfield. Thousands of people would come to see the Christmas display in Madrid from all over the State.
The Ballpark in the 1930s and 1940s.
During the WPA, the Madrid Ballpark was selected to receive extensive stonework, which still stands today. The Italian Mason from Cerrillos were hired to teach the men of the Santa Domingo Pueblo masonry skills. The rock came from Lamy and Pecos. In today's dollar, the cost of the stonework would be over $2.5 million dollars. The WPA stone work makes the Madrid Ballpark a truly historic and unique ball field with no others of its kind. Madrid began its' decline the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. All of the Christmas lights were turned off and the ballpark Christmas display ended. Because Madrid supplied much of the coal to Los Alamos, the dropping of the atomic bombs over Japan signified an end to the coal mining business for Madrid. Miners moved on and Madrid became a ghost town.
The Ballpark from the 1950s to Today
In the 1970s, artist and hippies began moving to Madrid. The family of Oscar Huber formed the Madrid Land Owners Association and included the ballpark as 'common' property to all landowners. From 1970 through 2000 the Ballpark was primarily neglected. In 2006 the Madrid Landowners Association worked with the County of Santa Fe to reconstruct the Grandstands. Reconstruction of the Grandstands was completed in September of 2014. The 'Friends of the Madrid Ballpark' continues to work on the reconstruction which includes repair of the infield and outfield, adding an outfield fence with funds contributed by both 'Friends' and the Madrid Cultural Projects. The rock walls still require much attention as does the general area were there was once a tennis court and now serves as a playground. We are committed to the continued improvement of this historic space which includes saving the WPA walls, maintaining the newly constructed grandstands and building out a community park and playground for all to enjoy.