Want to coach or play baseball/softball at RFSC?
Fill out the appropriate forms below.

BACKGROUND CHECK  PLAYER REGISTRATION 

 

400 Stanton Avenue
Pueblo, CO 81003
Ph: (719) 583-6195

Inside the Runyon Field Sports Complex

 Tony Andenucio Field at the Runyon Sports Complex is the second largest of the six fields. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN) Tony Andenucio Field at the Runyon Sports Complex is the second largest of the six fields. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN)

 


Tony Andenucio Field, 'Number 2', is an off-shoot of the main field, built in 1985

This is the first of a six-part series taking an in-depth look at the six fields at the Runyon Field Sports Complex. Chieftain sports writer Austin White will be providing a history of each field as well as how it was named and what events take place on each of the six fields at the complex during the year.

BY AUSTIN WHITE | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 24, 2018

Unlike the advice given in "Field of Dreams," building it does not always mean they will come. That was the problem faced by the Runyon Sports Complex back in 1997 when the park was beginning to wear down and threatening to be closed by the county.

At the time, the complex included Hobbs Field and a "Number 2" field to the west of it that was mostly run down and filled with garbage and rocks. A chain link fence indicated the home run wall and no lights adorned the field that was first "built" in 1985.

That "Number 2" eventually transformed into what fans know today as Andenucio Field.

In 1997, Mark Carmel was a county director and was recently named president of the Runyon Field board when the county decided to implement a more professional management style as opposed to volunteers running the show. Carmel helped put a board together that included almost every Pueblo sports organization that existed at the time.

"This was probably one of the greatest examples of a significant collaboration that occurred community wide," Carmel said. "We had a board of directors and an advisory board literally comprised of the people that were responsible for all of the recreation in this town."

A donation of $85,000 from Bob Rawlings, former publisher of The Pueblo Chieftain, was used to put in state-of-the-art lighting at the soon to be renamed "Number 2" field. During the field's makeover, Carmel reached out to the Andenucio family about putting Tony Andenucio's name on the field.

The family was delighted to have the potential of such an honor for not only Tony, but the entire family as well. The reason Tony was picked for the naming had everything to do with his baseball prowess in his hometown of Pueblo.

Andenucio earned a contract to play second base for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942. However, his time in the majors would be cut short as he was drafted by the U.S. Army later in 1942 and he served three years before being discharged in 1945.

The Nuch, his nickname since Andenucio is sort of a mouthful, returned home to Pueblo and started to compete in fast pitch softball. He played for Veterans of War Post 61 starting in 1948 and was named All-American VFW in 1949 and 1951. The 1949 season was almost glorious for the squad as they came up short in the national title game 1-0.

"He was roly-poly looking, but Tony was as fast as greased lightning," Rev. Fred Johnson, who played semipro ball with Nuch, said to the Greater Pueblo Sports Association. "And at the same time he was the longest hitter I ever played with."

Off the field, Andenucio ran "Tony's Cigar Store" which was labeled as "the meeting place for real men." The store sold not just tobacco products, but one could get a shoe shine, a haircut and hang around with a game of pool or poker.

Dave Socier, a former sports writer for The Pueblo Chieftain, said to the GPSA, "My prayer is that someday you grow to emulate Tony Andenucio as a ballplayer and as a man."

Flash back to 1997, 20 years after Andenucio's death, and the GPSA Hall of Famer would be immortalized at his hometown complex. But the field was still not quite up to standards.

Dave Dudley, current general manager of the Runyon Sports Complex, described how the field was filled with rocks and it used to be the parking spots for Hobbs Field before they started to string together the pieces of a field.


"To be honest, the place was a dump," Dudley said. "We're just lucky to have a place like this for our kids so we're really lucky in the long run."
DAVE DUDLEY
RUNYON SPORTS COMPLEX GENERAL MANAGER


With the lights in place though, the focus turned to fixing up the actual playing field which had been kept together by volunteers. One of them was Ray Pusedu, who helped create Andenucio Field by cutting the grass himself with his own tractor.

But like most industries and business, success is all about knowing the right people and having ample timing, all of which existed for the complex. Carmel brought in Mike and John Barnes as the first professional managers, around the same time the Colorado Rockies started to become bigger in the state.

The scoreboard on Tony Andenucio Field site above the left-field wall. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN)The scoreboard on Tony Andenucio Field site above the left-field wall. (CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN)

The Runyon representatives met with field pros from the Rockies and learned how to better manage the field and where to get their supplies from as well.

"Our pros got with the Rockies field pros, we started sourcing material from the same place the Rockies source their material," Carmel said. "We rebuilt the field and got it up to snuff…This field has been a real high-caliber field almost from the onset after we made the decision to move forward with it as Andenucio Field."

Recently, the field underwent some touch ups with a new scoreboard about five years ago and awnings over the bleachers to help combat the heat. Trees were also planted to provide more shade and Dudley is happy about the impact those have made.

Today, Andenucio Field is home to all kinds of high school baseball games throughout the year. All of the Pueblo area schools are welcome to use the field for home games during their spring season, and fall and summer league teams play there as well.

The field was named in honor of Anthony 'Tony' Andenucio and was dedicated in June of 1997.(CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN) The field was named in honor of Anthony 'Tony' Andenucio and was dedicated in June of 1997.(CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/CHRIS MCLEAN)

The biggest draw every year, though, is the Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament, a 12-team summer tournament that draws high school competition from across the country. Joe Andenucio, the son of Tony, is the director of the tournament that just put on the 39th installment a week ago with the Cheyenne Post 6 Sixers taking their second ever title at "The Nuch."

Football has even been played at Andenucio Field since the place was not really used once fall ball ended. Games took place there for a five-year span, but Dudley said they eventually stopped because the field would be torn apart too much for the grass to recover by spring.

And last Wednesday, Andenucio Field helped welcome in the next era of baseball in Pueblo by hosting an announcement conference to the public. Jeff Katofsky, owner of the Orem Owlz, along with several county members, took to a podium on Andenucio Field to display excitement and planning for a new downtown stadium to host the team, along with six more fields at Runyon.

Be on the lookout for the second season of inside Runyon when those six fields become a reality.

awhite@chieftain.com