If you haven’t been to a Fuego game, you’re missing out. Living up to the City Different’s reputation, a baseball game in Santa Fe is unlike any other: there’s the drinking section that caused such a hullabaloo—which is the closest you can get to a modern-day internment camp; some of the best people-watching around; and in-house snacks like the fiery Frito pie that will have you grabbing onto the towel rack later, screaming “Oh, Doctor, you can hang a star on that one!”
A team “host mom” passes around a hat for tips at the bottom of the fifth to augment what she said was the players’ $54.75 weekly salary (team manager Bill Moore would neither confirm nor deny the amount when asked by SFR, claiming “it isn’t anybody’s business”); and, any given game, local politicians like City Manager Robert Romero and Councilor Ron Trujillo—who championed the team—commingle with the commoners.
“With all the hell they gave me for this, I better be here, right?” Trujillo said at a recent match against the Alpine Cowboys.
And then there’s the team mascot.
It’s Elmo. No, that’s not an acronym; it’s a person in an actual Elmo suit topped with a Fuego T-shirt who works the stands with the chutzpah of a regular San Diego Chicken and delights fans young and old.
Underneath the suit is 14-year-old Dominique Romero, a Santa Fe High School varsity cheerleader who became the furry character by default, after Trujillo’s son Hunter stepped down.
“There was no one else wanting to be the mascot, so I just jumped in there,” the sister of number 13, Jerome Romero, says behind the bulky red head.
Asked to describe people’s reactions to her antics, she said, “It’s crazy,” adding that the best perk of the job is startling fans. “It’s fun!”
Romero claims the origins of the hand-me-down suit are “a mystery,” as is her secret Bruce Wayne/Batman identity to her schoolmates: “I really don’t speak of it much.”
Carrying a small stuffed Elmo likeness, she was quick to dispel any rumors that she might be a teen mascot mom.
“I found it in the baby section of a store,” she disclosed.
As to what it takes to make it in the biz, her advice to future potential mascots was concise and to the point: “You have to be outgoing and be ready to do anything,” Romero said, adding that fear of what people might think should be nonexistent. “Technically, you’re hiding: No one knows who you are.”
Despite all the rooting, the home team lost that game 18-3—but Romero carried on.
She nonchalantly took over a fan’s foldaway chair when he wasn’t looking, and later, joined a ladies’ knitting circle and crocheted away.
The crowd, for a lack of a better term, was tickled.