The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They play home games in Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at an elevation of 5,100 feet (1,555 m) above sea level.
Founded in 2003
Albuquerque, New Mexico
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Pacific Coast League|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Colorado Rockies (2015–present)|
|Previous||Los Angeles Dodgers (2009–2014)|
Florida Marlins (2003–2008)
|Minor league titles|
|Division titles (3)|
|Nickname||Albuquerque Isotopes (2003–present)|
|Calgary Cannons (1985–2002)|
|Colors||Black, red, white|
|Ballpark||Isotopes Park (2003–present)|
|Albuquerque Baseball Club, LLC|
|General Manager||John Traub|
Albuquerque was previously represented in the PCL as a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate by the Albuquerque Dukes, which won several PCL championships in the 1970s and 1980s before moving to Oregon in 2001 and becoming the Portland Beavers. Two years later, the Calgary Cannons moved from Alberta to Albuquerque and became the Isotopes. The team was affiliated with the Florida Marlins from 2003 to 2008 and the Dodgers from 2009 to 2014. They have won three division titles (2003, 2009, and 2012), but have yet to win a league championship.
The team's name recalls the fictional Springfield Isotopes from the long-running TV series The Simpsons, first appearing in the Season 2 episode "Dancin' Homer" (aired in 1990) where main character Homer Simpson temporarily becomes their mascot, the titular Dancin' Homer. In the episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer", which first aired on March 4, 2001, Homer attempts to thwart the team's plan to move to Albuquerque by going on a hunger strike. Subsequently, when the Albuquerque Tribune asked its online readers to help choose a new name for the Cannons, "Isotopes" received 67 percent of the 120,000 votes cast.
Though team president Ken Young admitted that the name came from the series, he said at the name's unveiling, "We picked it because over the past year it has become a popular name, and it does have something to do with Albuquerque." The "Isotopes" name was deemed appropriate, since New Mexico has a number of well-known scientific and military facilities dealing with nuclear technology, such as Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), as well as the site of the Trinity test. In addition, uranium mining was a significant industry in the state during the Cold War.
In the three months after the team's name was announced in September 2002, before the team ever took the field, the team sold more merchandise than the Albuquerque Dukes sold in any single season, and led minor league baseball in merchandising revenue in 2003. The team said they were able to tell when episodes featuring the Springfield Isotopes would air in different markets based on clusters of orders from different viewing areas. The team has no working agreements with the Fox Broadcasting Company or The Simpsons. However, statues of Homer, Bart, Lisa, and Marge Simpson (originally created as a promotional item for the 2007 film) are located at Isotopes Park.
In January 2001, a group of businessmen spearheaded by a businessman named Ken Young and an entrepreneur named Mike Koldyke entered into an agreement with the current owners of the Calgary Cannons with the sole intention of bringing the team to Albuquerque for the 2003 season. Albuquerque, at the time, had been without a baseball team since March 2000 as the prior team, the Albuquerque Dukes, had been moved to Portland, Oregon, following the sale of the franchise to Marshall Glickman and Mike Higgins. After the two sides agreed to the sale of the Calgary Cannons, Ken Young and Mike Koldyke gave the city of Albuquerque a major condition before making the move to Albuquerque. The city of Albuquerque would have to either build a new stadium or renovate the pre-existing Albuquerque Sports Stadium. A few months later, in May 2001, the city of Albuquerque approved a vote to allocate $25 million towards the renovation of Albuquerque Sports Stadium, thus completing all contingencies required for the move of the Calgary Cannons. Ken Young and Mike Koldyke then finalized the purchase of the Calgary Cannons and, prior to the 2003 season, completed the move to Albuquerque as well as changing the team name from the Cannons to the Isotopes.
As it turned out, the renovation of Albuquerque Sports Stadium turned into a construction of a completely new facility, Isotopes Park. While Isotopes Park retained its predecessor's general structure and dimensions, all that remained of the old stadium was the playing field.
The team immediately saw a tremendous amount of success and popularity come their way in the following baseball seasons. Following the move to Albuquerque, the Isotopes played their first official game in Albuquerque on April 11, 2003; 3 years after the Dukes left for Portland. At Isotopes Park, the baseball team was greeted by over 12,000 fans in their opening day game. In the Isotopes' opening season, the baseball team saw over 575,000 fans enter their stadium to watch their newly acquired team perform. During the 2003 season, Albuquerque saw immediate success as their new team won the 2003 Central Division Title and in addition to that, entered the 2003 Pacific Coast League Playoffs.
In July 2009, Albuquerque received an unusual amount of nationwide attention following the arrival of Manny Ramirez. The outfielder at the time was under intense scrutiny for a suspension he received after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, more commonly known as PEDs, and was slated to play a total of three games with the Albuquerque Isotopes before returning to the major league. The Albuquerque Isotopes ran multiple promotions for the arrival of Manny Ramirez including advertisements, wigs bearing an extreme similarity to the hair of Manny Ramirez, etc. which ultimately led to a then-attendance record with over 15,000 fans attending the outfielder's opening game with the Isotopes. In addition to this, there was a large amount of harsh criticism towards the team from numerous sports media outlets including ESPN and sports commentators such as Bob Costas.
Albuquerque Isotopes roster
- In September 2009, Mitch Jones was named the winner of the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, for the most home runs, 35, in minor league baseball.
- In 2014, Joc Pederson, after leading the league in OBP (.435), runs (106), home runs (33), walks (100), and OPS (1.017), and setting Isotopes single-season records for walks and runs scored, was voted the 2014 PCL Most Valuable Player, named to the post-season All-PCL team, and named the PCL Rookie of the Year, which is awarded to a player in his first year at the Triple-A level. He was also selected to Baseball America's 2014 Minor League All-Star team.
- In the USA Network series In Plain Sight, the character Raphael Ramirez (Cristián de la Fuente) plays for the Isotopes.
- In the AMC series Breaking Bad, which is set in Albuquerque, Walter White can be seen wearing an Isotopes hat.
- In the NBC series The Voice, music producer Adam Blackstone wore an Albuquerque Isotopes hat during Season One Battle Rounds preparations.
- In the AMC series "Better Call Saul", prequel to Breaking Bad, an Isotopes air freshener is seen hanging in the cab in the opening scene of Season 4 .
- Klebnikov, Sergei (July 8, 2016). "Minor League Baseball's Most Valuable Teams – 14. Albuquerque Isotopes". Forbes. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- "Doh! Go Isotopes!". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. May 13, 2003. p. C8.
- Latta, Dennis (September 5, 2002). "Team President Throws Isotopes Name Into Play". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque Publishing Company. p. A1. Archived from the original on August 22, 2003. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
- Oakey, Steve (September 12, 2002). "To Attract Homer, Isotopes Need to Have Duff on Draft". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Copley Press. p. D2. Retrieved June 11, 2007.(subscription required)
- Latta, Dennis (December 15, 2002). "Isotopes Hit a Leadoff Homer at Cash Register". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque Publishing Company. p. D1. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2007.(subscription required)
- Ruiz, Don (August 1, 2004). "In Search of Elusive Huntington Tapes". The News Tribune. p. C08. Retrieved June 11, 2007.(subscription required)
- Latta, Dennis (February 1, 2003). "'Topes, Simpsons Aren't in the Mix". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque Publishing Company. p. D8. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2007.(subscription required)
- "Homer and Marge". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- "Albuquerque Baseball History | Albuquerque Isotopes News". Albuquerque Isotopes. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Journal, Randy Harrison, Ken Sickenger of the. "Notable moments in Isotopes history". www.abqjournal.com. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Hill, Benjamin (September 15, 2009). "Jones slugs way to Bauman Award: Home run crown, first big league action mark milestone season". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
- "2014 Pacific Coast League batting leaders". Baseball Reference.com. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- Dilbeck, Steve (August 28, 2014). "Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson, already PCL's top rookie, is named MVP". LA Times. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- "2014 All-PCL Team Announced". milb.com. August 25, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
- "Joc Pederson Tabbed PCL Rookie of the Year". milb.com. August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- "Pederson captures PCL's MVP Award". milb.com. August 28, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- Eddy, Matt (September 2, 2014). "Minor League All-Star Team 2014". Baseball America. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- Wild, Danny (December 3, 2013). "Isotopes pay tribute to 'Breaking Bad'". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "Catch Adam as Musical Advisor to Adam Levine". adamblackstone.com. Adam Blackstone. May 20, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2012.