McAllen to host Mexican baseball teams amid souring US-Mexico relations

McALLEN — As relations have soured between the United States and Mexico, with President Trump raging against Latin American immigrants, McAllen’s relationship with its southern neighbor has fortified.

More than 10 youth baseball teams from northern Mexico will participate in a tournament next month at the city’s new ball fields as McAllen continues to nurture a strong partnership with Mexico.

“Our relationship with Mexico is obvious,” McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “We rely on Mexico every day, and they rely on us. Our relationship is more than rhetoric. It’s a relationship that’s been here for decades. It’s not just business relationships, it’s familial.”

The McAllen International Friendship Youth Baseball Tournament will be held at the city’s youth baseball complex in north McAllen on the weekend of Nov. 16. About 25 teams will play in the tournament, including about 15 teams from northern Mexico, mostly from the greater Monterrey area.

The tournament guarantees three games and has a $125 registration fee per team, though the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will be handing out some scholarships for Mexican teams to participate.

“These are our neighbors,” Mayor Jim Darling said Tuesday. “We do a lot in Mexico, and they do a lot here. And these are kids, kids playing baseball.”

In addition to playing ball, all teams participating in the tournament will receive a free entry into Tamale Fest, a festival celebrating South Texas culture taking place in McAllen that same weekend.

This is the first large event the city has promoted at the youth baseball complex since it opened in July after years of delays and construction. The complex features 12 fields, including one Miracle Field, which complies with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. There is also a concession area in the middle of the complex.

City leaders said they’re looking forward to having more people get a glimpse of the complex, especially an international audience, despite all kinds of statements from Washington about the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We live it every day. It’s not a political motivator for us,” Darling said about the border, and Mexico. “We’re closer to Reynosa than San Antonio — 8,000 people cross the bridge every day, just walking here. It’s different for us. It’s every day life. It’s not political football.”