Las Cruces – Celebrating New Mexico's 100 years of statehood. This week's question Is it true that playing baseball was once a crime in New Mexico?
The answer from Dr. Jon Hunner, NMSU Professor of History:
Apparently, playing baseball on Sunday was a crime in New Mexico based on interpretation of the legal code of 1897. In 1912, the year of New Mexico statehood, every region of the country had a recognized minor league baseball circuit except the Southwest. While Arizona clamored for a professional team, promoters in New Mexico succeeded in joining the first professional league in the Southwest.
The Rocky Mountain League, a 'D' class circuit was located along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in east-central Colorado. Initially, New Mexico did not have any entries into this league, but the Canon City Swastikas moved their home to Raton, New Mexico on June 4, 1912. Three days later, the Colorado Springs Millionaires moved to Dawson, New Mexico. Maybe the sudden interest sprang from the May 1912 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that playing baseball on Sunday was not a crime after all, just a misunderstanding of the law. The Rocky Mountain league folded on July 15, 1912, but New Mexican boosters would get a second chance when baseball promoter and Texas league founder, John McCloskey, organized the Rio Grande Association, a 'D' class circuit that would begin play in 1915 across three states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.