A DELIGHTED GRIN BREAKS OVER DICK MOOT'S FACE when he spies my Albuquerque Dukes baseball hat. The Spanish conquistador logo, which he hastily designed in 1972—after a newspaper contest to name what was then the city’s Triple-A Pacific Coast League franchise—has become a symbol for the Duke City itself. A Chicago native whose father was raised in Lake Arthur, New Mexico, Moots moved to Rio Rancho in 1970 for a job at Aquarius Press. Back then, designing the Dukes mascot, uniform lettering, and program covers was just another assignment for the prolific graphic artist, who also created the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s first official logo. Although the team moved to Portland, Oregon, after the 2000 season, the “Dukes” still take the field once a year, when the Albuquerque Isotopes don throwback uniforms for Dukes Retro Night.

My father taught me a lot about drawing horses and cowboys when I was in grade school. I just had a gift for drawing.

In Catholic school, the nuns would have me in the cloakroom drawing the saints. I guess I enjoyed it, because I didn’t complain. 

I was working for American Can Company in Chicago and having a very successful career doing container designs.

My wife and I came here to visit, and I brought my portfolio with me. The first place I went into—I just made a phone call to one of them—was the best advertising agency in town.

They said, “We’re not hiring here. But we’ve got someone in the building right now who just bought a printing company here in Albuquerque. They are looking for a creative design director.” It was Aquarius Press.

They had the contract for the game programs. The team, at that time, was called the Albuquerque Dodgers.

Albuquerque Tribune sports editor Carlos Salazar approached Dodgers general manager Charlie Blaney and said, “This is a perfect opportunity for you to rename the team. ‘Dukes’ has some history here.”

On the very last day of the contest, Carlos comes in with a bunch of ballots—a bunch of ballots. Up until that day, “Dodgers” was winning by far. Isn’t that interesting, how that happened?

It was just a month or so before the season.

The thing that amazes me is how enduring and popular this logo is. You see it everywhere. People just took to it. He’s friendly.

Personally, it was just another job.

I’ve known many artists over the years who just don’t have a business sense, or they can only do one thing. I was so fortunate to do so many different things.

I didn’t have a problem getting up and going out to my drawing board. It was always something that I looked forward to. 

I got to throw out the first pitch at a game several years ago.

I had to get my son-in-law to go over to the ballpark that day, because I hadn’t thrown a ball in forever. I said, “I’m gonna make sure I get the ball to the plate.” I did not want to be humiliated. 

I’ve got a friend from the senior center who found out that I did the Dukes logo. She was so excited she said, “Would you get me a logo? I want to tattoo it on my ankle.”

See for yourself

The Albuquerque Isotopes celebrate Dukes Retro Night on July 23. Official Dukes apparel can be purchased at abqdukes.com.