Just days after the Tulsa Drillers came within one game of winning the 2014 Texas League Championship, it was announced that the team had ended its 12-year affiliation with the Colorado Rockies to become the AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Team management made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon at ONEOK Field.
“The Drillers organization is proud to announce its affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers,” said co-chair Dale Hubbard. “The Dodgers are one of baseball’s most famous and successful franchises, and they have a great history of developing players within their minor league system. We are very appreciative of our 12-year relationship with the Colorado Rockies, but we are excited about this new chapter in the long history of professional baseball in the city of Tulsa.”
The new major league affiliation is the third major league parent in team history. From 1977-2002, a total of 26-years, the team was affiliated with the Texas Rangers and saw future hall-of-famers Sammy Sosa, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez in Drillers jerseys during the team’s first quarter century in Tulsa. Then came 12-years with Colorado, and players like Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday seeing time playing at the old Drillers Stadium and ONEOK Field.
According to the book Let’s Go Tulsa, authored by Tulsa baseball historian Wayne McCombs, the Dodgers become the 10th different major league affiliate for the city of Tulsa. The old Tulsa Oilers first-ever affiliation was with the St. Louis Browns from 1921-1929. In addition to the Browns, the Oilers partnered with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1933), Chicago Cubs (1940-1942; 1946-1947; 1956), Cincinnati Reds (1948-1954), Cleveland Indians (1955), Philadelphia Phillies (1957-1958), St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1976).
The announcement coincides with the announcement earlier Wednesday Oklahoma City Redhawks becoming the Dodgers AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. It established the Dodgers a foothold in the Sooner State for the very first time and it will be the first time in twelve years that both of the minor league baseball teams in Oklahoma are owned by the same club in the majors.
Representing the Dodgers at the downtown Tulsa press conference were President/CEO Stan Kasten, Special Advisor to the Chairman and Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda, Vice President of Player Development De Jon Watson, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen and Chief Financial Officer Tucker Kain.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Hubbard family and making Tulsa our home for the Dodgers’ double-A team,” said Kasten. “Having our top two minor league teams within the state of Oklahoma will certainly be great for our organization and for the Dodger fans in the state.”
The initial period of affiliation will be for two seasons in 2015 and 2016. The Dodgers franchise has appeared in 18 World Series. There are over 60 players, managers and executives in the Baseball Hall of Fame who spent some of their professional careers with the Dodgers.
The Drillers will continue playing in the Texas League North Division and will return to the field in April 2015