The Runyon Sports Complex is a hub of Southern Colorado’s competitive athletic spirit. The site of six baseball and softball fields carries a rich and diverse history in Pueblo. All fields are named after Pueblo baseball legends – Tony “The Nuch” Andenucio, O’Neal Hobbs, Max Salas, Sam Corsentino, Jim Dilorio and Ray Pusedu – each with his own tie to Pueblo and impact on the sport and spirit of local baseball.
Runyon has been a hotspot for the spirit of America’s pastime for nearly a century. Originally called County Park when it opened in 1938, the field that now houses high school baseball in Pueblo used to be a stop for some of the game’s most famous players. The Great Bambino, Babe Ruth, made a stop in Pueblo to play an exhibition game at Runyon the year of its official opening. The complex hosted a Western League team, the Pueblo Rollers, in 1941; it was a farm team of the St. Louis Browns. The league took a break due to World War II but afterward resumed until 1958, with Pueblo hosting farm teams of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs.
Officially named after Damon Runyon in 1948, the legacy of the Runyon Sports Complex began. Runyon was born in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1880 but grew up in the Steel City. A renowned sports writer, he started his journalistic career with The Pueblo Chieftain in 1910 and then moved to New York, where his sports writing and storytelling made him famous. Runyon’s stories “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure” were inspirations for the musical “Guys and Dolls,” which ran on Broadway for 1,200 performances and later became a film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.
Fast forward to 2021: Christie Koschke was named the first female general manager of the complex. Koschke was an accomplished high school and collegiate player in Pueblo – an ace on the diamond for Pueblo West High School who led the Cyclones to two state championships and then transitioned into a standout at Brigham Young University. Koschke then moved to the coaching side of things. She was the head softball coach at CSU Pueblo from 2013 to the 2021 season.
“I’ve grown up watching baseball at Runyon,” Koschke said. “My brother played here when I was young and there wasn’t always softball here. So I didn’t get the chance to play here, but I’ve grown up watching baseball take place here at Runyon.”
Runyon houses a multitude of tournaments over the summer and is the home to youth baseball for all leagues that take place throughout the calendar year. You can’t find a summer weekend where there aren’t games on all six fields from sunup to sundown.
“A tournament weekend is busy. It is truly an all-day, all-hands-on-deck process,” Koschke said. “Every field is filled at all hours of the day.”
A name that has been one of Runyon’s biggest promoters this season is Mario “Mo Mo” Bernal. The PA announcer for Hobbs Field, Bernal is the voice of high school baseball in Pueblo.
“I was born (in Pueblo) and I have probably spent more time at Runyon during my life than anywhere else in the world,” he said.
“The goal is to have this going on in every field here at Runyon in the future. Eventually, the goal is to have every game filmed and streamed online for everyone in Pueblo to see,” Bernal said.
The future of Runyon is bright. In 2016, Pueblo County residents passed a bond to improve and expand youth baseball and softball facilities and to expand the historic complex.
Once the plan is in effect, the goals of the project are to increase the number of fields at Runyon Sports Complex, improve the quality of all the facilities, maintain safety and meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The expansion process is still in the approval stages, but the full master plan is available at runyonsportscomplexmp.com.
“The amount of tournaments and leagues we have now is essentially capped,” Koschke said. “What expansion would do is allow us the freedom to do a lot more here. It would be a huge change for Runyon and I am just excited for the growth that will follow.”