How a Russian Hacker Ended the White Sands Pupfish
8/23/2021 – Alamogordo Daily News Article – The White Sands Pupfish were known as Pecos League Team number one. On the Pecos League’s digital platform the original team numbers were White Sands #1, Las Cruces #2, Roswell #3, Alpine #4. The Pupfish played in Alamogordo, and Alamogordo was the first city to sign a lease to host a Pecos League Team. Matt McNeile’s efforts were remarkable and the Pupfish were born. Many people ask to this day why are the Pupfish no longer in the Pecos League?
The Pupfish have deep history playing the entire decade from 2011-2019. Despite never qualifying for the Pecos League playoffs after 2011 the Pupfish produced players that would go on to play in the Major Leagues. Chris Smith reached the MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays and Yermin Mercedes reached the MLB with the Chicago White Sox. Mercedes was the most popular player to ever play in the Pecos League with his huge early success with the White Sox.
Things changed for the City of Alamogordo during the 2018. An Alamogordo city employee received an email request to change banking information from someone who appeared to be a Cooperative Education Services (CES) representative. CES is a New Mexico purchasing cooperative. The email appeared to come from a person known to work for CES. The email contained an outdated version of the CES logo. The city accepted the change in banking information and paid all the CES invoices, only to discover that the email was fraudulent. The city paid the invoice in the amount of $250,000. The City believed they would recover the money.
The City was already facing budget cuts and coupled with this loss, things would change for organizations like the Pupfish. Alamogordo never recovered the money, so the City decided to restructure the terms of many of their programs including the Pupfish deal in Alamogordo. In the new deal the Pupfish would be responsible for paying a ballpark lease, making all improvements, maintenance and repairs to the ballparks while the City would keep all revenue from alcohol sales. This deal went into effect in the 2019 season.
Matt Chambers the 2019 Field Manager of the Pupfish stated “This is a real simple deal, The City of Alamogordo makes profit off of the Pupfish Beer Sales, while the Pupfish are liable for all repairs and expenses associated with the team. The Pupfish are left with whatever ticket sales and sponsorships are left. It is very tough to get sponsorship dollars in Alamogordo. I don’t see how this deal will work compared to other Pecos League Cities.”
In 2021 the Mountain Division South of the Pecos League saw the Santa Fe Fuego, Roswell Invaders, Alpine Cowboys and Tucson Saguaros. Without the Pupfish it made things tougher on travel. Moving Santa Fe into the South it broke up traditional rivals Santa Fe and Trinidad.
Source: Pecos League, via Pecos League Facebook page, 24 February 2022. Photo courtesy of White Sands Pupfish Facebook page