It took a while to finesse the language on the arch that will bear Jerry Archibeque’s name although no one doubted his significance to baseball, young people and the Bernalillo community.
During the Oct. 24 Bernalillo Town Council meeting family members described how Archibeque took followed the lead of a friend who was a Little League president in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
“Back when Jerry’s son was little and watching him playing baseball on the roads or school grounds, Jerry had a vision to develop a place where his son and other children in the community could play baseball,” Sandra Lucero, his sister-in-law said during the meeting. ” Jerry went on a mission devoting his time researching, strategizing and meeting with certain people and elected officials.”
Backed by his family, friends and community members, Archibeque won the blessing of Mayor H. J. “Lalo” Torres to use an old softball field on the site of the town’s former lumber mill. The mill water tower, sawdust incinerator and railroad switch engine are all that remain of that industry in what is now Rotary Park.
With the aid of his South Valley friend and a district Little League official, Archibeque pursued an official Little League charter from the international organization based on Williamsport, Pa. The charter arrived too late for a 1973 season, but in 1974 Coronado Little League was off and running eventually attracting as many as 800 players.
While waiting for the charter, Archibeque recruited as his board of directors Vice President Amado Trujillo, Secretary Shirley Archibeque, Jerry’s daughter, Player Agent Melvin Martinez, and Safety Officer Frank Padilla. Archibeque served as president and as a coach for many years and was instrumental in starting a softball program.
Generations of players were among the 503 people who signed a petition urging the council to name the complex of three Little League fields and one softball field for Archibeque.
Archibeque told the Signpost he still remembers the words of Ray Bennett, the district Little League manager who supported the Bernalillo effort.
“Mr. Bennett, he told me you are joining the biggest, the largest youth organization in the world, just remember that,” Archibeque said. “I feel great. I’m happy for my family and for the Little League and for all the community that helped us out in creating the Coronado Little League.”
Naming the complex is the first work of a new in-house naming committee at Town Hall. Family members and the committee worked on different wordings for the complex sign and a way to recognize the many people who contributed to the success of Coronado and later programs that use the fields.
Ultimately the mayor and councilors settled on a sign with three lines designating the ballfields as the Jerry Archibeque Complex, Home of Coronado Little League, Established 1974. Also to be added to the concession building are plaques naming the original five-member board and recognizing the league women’s auxiliary.