Risso to pitch for Raton minor squad

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On the heels of a postponed national TV appearance, 60-year Paul Risso of Los Lunas has been offered his shot of a lifetime: a chance to pitch for a professional ball club.

Risso — who was featured on NBC’s “Today Show” this past Tuesday — was signed to a one-day contract by the independent Pecos League. Risso’s segment was scheduled to run on Tuesday, July 2 but was postponed to this past Tuesday, July 9. Video of the segment can be seen online at www.today.com

“He’s been trying out for us for five years. We told him, ‘Man, I don’t think it’s going to work,’ but he wanted to go to spring training anyway,” Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn said of Risso’s latest tryout in 2012. “Obviously he’s not a front-line guy, but he actually got some hitters out. … And since he’s so dedicated, I figured, let’s give him a shot.”

Dunn said Risso will not start but will pitch one inning for the Raton Osos against the host Santa Fe Fuego on July 17 at Fort Marcy Park.

Risso was featured in an article in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press last month, charting what ultimately turned into an unsuccessful bid to play for the independent St. Paul Saints.

Risso appeared in a News-Bulletin feature in June and an Albuquerque Journal article on Tuesday, July 2 in advance of a scheduled airing of his “Today Show” segment, which caught Dunn’s eye.

While Risso understands that skeptics may see his one-game, one-inning stint as merely a publicity stunt for the fledgling eight-team Pecos League, the sexagenarian is out to prove them wrong.

“Is there a human-interest element to this? I don’t think there’s any way around it – not many 60-year-old guys are doing stuff like this,” Risso said. “But to be honest with you, if I was lobbing the ball out there, they’re not putting me on the field.”