Taco Trauma Turns Triumphant in San Antonio

It took 18 years, but Randy Neuenfeldt has finally defeated the Puffy Taco.

In 1992, 11-year-old Neuenfeldt was selected as the contestant in the San Antonio Missions’ “Puffy Taco Race.”  His task was a simple one — to beat this guacamole-soaked anthropomorphic food dish in a race around the bases. This seemed like an eminently attainable task, considering that the Puffy Taco had never, ever won. Not once. Ever. 

I mean, look at “him”:

puffy taco.jpg
(Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)

But this particular night in 1992 was different from all other nights, before or since. The Puffy Taco somehow managed to win.

puff.jpg“As I went around third, the taco was ahead of me,” explained Neuenfeldt, who is now married with two children. “He was goofing around, doing a dance, and he ended up going a little too far and touched home plate ahead of me. The PA guy saw that and ran with it: ‘Ladies and gentleman, you’ve just witnessed history! For the first time ever, the Puffy Taco has won a race!’  Everybody was booing, and I thought they were booing me for losing the race. I was crying as they brought me off of the field.”

But time heals all wounds, and as the years passed Neuenfeldt came to accept and even embrace his status as the only person to ever lose to the Puffy Taco. But he never forgot.

Rick Hill never forgot either. Hill was the frazzled Missions intern who selected Neuenfeldt to participate in the race, and therefore largely responsible for the humiliation that ensued. Last February, Hill wrote a blog post for mysanantonio.com in which he recounted the incident.

“I half-carried, half-dragged [Neuenfeldt] off the field,” wrote Hill. “I offered him another
chance but both he and his parents were too dumbfounded to respond so I
sulked back to my desk.”

The post ended with these fateful words:

“I hope a certain boy who turns 28 this June will drop me a line. I
owe him…another shot at beating the Puffy Taco.”

As luck would have it, Neuenfeldt saw the post and sent Hill an email (subject line: “the boypuffffffff.jpg that lost”). Hill then contacted the Missions, who were more than happy to help right this 18-year-old wrong. They even arranged for Jimmy Gonzalez, the 1992-era Puffy Taco who defeated Neuenfeldt, to reprise his role for the re-match.

Puffy Taco vs Neuenfeldt Part II occurred on Thursday, in front of a robust crowd of some 7200 fans. Over 100 friends and family members came out to support Neuenfeldt, who was wearing a t-shirt that read “I Eat Tacos Like You For Breakfast” on the front and “Run Randy Run” on the back.

Neuenfeldt and his Puffy Taco nemesis competed in several between-inning contests before the main event, building anticipation to a fever pitch. Would things turn out differently in 2010? 

The answer, as always, can be found in the pictures. 

Here’s Neuenfeldt, ready for action:


In the homestretch:




The Man of the Hour:

“Good lord, I was out of breath,” said Neuenfeldt when asked about the race. “Why are the bases so far apart? But it was great to have my shot at redemption, and now there’s a sense of closure.”

The San Antonio media did a commendable job in covering this epochal event, as any cursory Google search will make clear. But it was the aforementioned mysanantonio.com that truly stood out. For far more Puffy Taco coverage, including photo galleries, related links, and an excellently-produced and highly dramatic video, click HERE.   


One comment

  1. txag08

    Henry and Ballapeño are pretty cool characters. I usually don’t like costumed mascots… but I like them. Probably because I still think it’s awesome that the Missions would have a jalapeño and a puffy taco as mascots. It’s just so San Antonio. I was talking to a friend about the possibility of an MLB team in San Antonio when they were flirting with the Marlins a few years back. He said it’d be cool, but we’d have to rename them and call them the Burritos or something. I agreed.

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