Just when the Swensons thought they had life all figured out, and they will go quietly into the gentle night, something out of this world happened. George and Patty Swenson, a local retired couple, were looking for an adventure to fill their days, nights and weekends.
Patty is a retired school teacher at Valley View Elementary. One day, Patty was subbing at Valley View when another teacher, Misty Avalos, asked if she wouldn’t mind being a host mom to the Roswell Invaders baseball team. Patty didn’t know what hosting entailed at the time but talked it over with her husband, George.
George, 74, a retired air traffic controller, who moved here from Midland, Texas, 35 years ago, thought about it. He figured after being married 50 years and with their children grown and gone, two extra bedrooms and nothing but time on their hands, why not. It was another of the many adventures in their marraige.George felt like it couldn’t hurt. Not only have the Swensons taken on the role of being a host family for their fifth year, but they have also hosted as many as five players. This year they’re hosting three players.
“Our boys, Chris and Rob, are grown and gone,” Patty said. “We felt like we could help boys achieve their dreams. We actually treat the boys like family. We fix meals for them and sit down at the table together to eat.”
Before being a host family, the Swensons were apprehensive about opening their homes to kids. It has helped that Invaders manager Relly Mercurio selects good players and kids. The summer goes fast, the players stay from the end of May until the first part of August.
The Swensons’ family approach has them still in contact with the players they hosted five years ago. Elliott Waterman was one of the first players to stay with them and A.J. Funk. One of their favorite memories was hosting players from Venezuela, and after the season they met the players in Miami, Florida, on their way to Key West, and lunched with them.
“Once a kid is at our house, they become family,” Patty said. “We tend to stay in touch with them.”
In fact, the Swensons are the de facto general managers for the Invaders — without them, a lot of things wouldn’t get done. They also line up other families to host the other players on the Invaders’ roster. Why do they do this when there is nothing in it for them?
“They’re the best,” Invader pitcher Carson Corff said. “I had them last year, they are a big reason why I wanted to come back this season. I get along with them, they’re very loving and giving and they do everything they can for us.”
Corff is a pitcher and throws in the high 80s on his fastball and he throws a wicked changeup. He would like to move up as far as his skills will take him. Corff likes Roswell, and has had lots of conversations with fans about the team’s green pants.
George and Patty believe in paying it forward. They want to give young kids the opportunity to achieve their dreams. All of the players have the dream and hopes of making it to the Major Leagues and they don’t want things like money, a place to stay, and food to eat to be a determining factor. By being a host family, this is one less thing an athlete has to concern themselves with.
“They’re great,” Kyle Herrick said. “They’re the best I ever had as a host family. They have treated me like family ever since I have come in and it’s been like that ever since. This helps not having to worry about a place to live.”
Herrick is on the roster for the first time and has aspirations of developing into a Major League prospect. He throws in the low 90s and has a two-seam fastball to go along with his cutter, slider.
The Invaders ask a host family to provide a player with their own room for the season, provide access to a washer and dryer if possible, access to a bathroom and kitchen and a safe environment. Lastly, they would like for the family to attend games and provide moral support for the player.
One of the nice parts about being a host family for the Swensons is they get to see former players like Ethan Rosebeck move up to the next level in his career. Rosebeck spent the night with the Swensons when he was coming from Arizona to his new team, the Utica Unicorns.
Being a host family has been worth it to the Swensons. One exciting part of being a host family was when the Invaders won the Pecos League championship in 2015 in Santa Fe.
Patty feels like the community and city are starting to support the baseball team. She also recommends a family night out at the park for good, clean, wholesome fun.
“We call the players our summer sons,” George Swenson said. “We love helping them achieve their dreams.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.