Fallen Tiger inspires new baseball field

By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer

Nearly a year after his death, friends and family of Oscar Acosta hope the memory of the former major and minor league coach will manifest into a new baseball field that bears his name.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Rod Adair, R-Roswell, secured $125,000 in capital outlay funds last month for the field, which will be built in Elida, Acosta’s hometown.

The New York Yankees minor league manager died in a car accident in April 2006 in the Dominican Republic while on a scouting trip. He was managing the Gulf Coast Yankees, a Rookie League affiliate in Tampa Bay, Fla.

“He died so unexpectedly,” Oscar’s older sister Yolanda Acosta said. “It was a shock and we’re still mourning him so much. But the warmth and the love of Elida and Portales and the surrounding areas was so helpful.”

And it’s because of that love and support that funds are being raised for a field that will provide Roosevelt County youths a state-of-the-art venue to perfect their game.

“(Oscar’s older sister) Yolanda understood that they did need a new field at Elida and Oscar was really committed to his hometown,” said Debra Hammer of Cordova Public Relations, which is representing the family. “Yolanda thought that something with his name attached would be really nice to remember him by and since he’s kind of a hometown hero, she wanted some place for the kids to play so that there could be a future Oscar Acosta.”

With the capital outlay funds, organizers are little more than halfway to their goal of $300,000.

An Oscar Acosta Memorial Fund has been established at First Financial Credit Union in Portales.

“He would be really proud,” Elida baseball coach and long-time friend Jimmy Ward said.

“You ought to see the one we play on,” Ward said. “It’s a wheat field. It would be a lift for the whole school system. It would help everybody.”

Following his graduation from Elida in 1977, Acosta received a baseball scholarship to Lubbock Christian and pitched three years of professional baseball in the minor leagues before a torn rotator cuff ended his playing career.

After his playing days, Acosta served as a pitching coach and scout for the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs before managing in the Yankees organization. His professional coaching career spanned 15 years.