Tag Archives: texas rangers affiliates’ ballparks

Dell Diamond, Round Rock, TEXAS


Number of games: 1
Number of states: 39 States to go: 11
First game: June 4, 2022 (Round Rock Express 5, Oklahoma City Dodgers 2)

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In between my two games in Arlington, I took a day to drive down to Round Rock for a ballgame. I still needed to cross Texas off of the list, and with Frisco out of town (alas), Round Rock was the closest I could go to get a ballgame in. Rather than zip

down I-35, I took back roads down the way. Well, not farm roads, exactly, but state and US highways instead of the ubiquitous Interstate. Drove through a couple of old downtowns (depressed old downtowns, alas) and saw a fair number of ornate entrances to ranches. Listened to podcasts and to some of my preferred music. Had a sub sandwich and chilled out. It was a great day. Long non-interstate drives have become a hallmark of my ballpark travel, and I was glad to have this one.

Dell Diamond was the destination at the end of all of this, and it turned out to be a fine place to see  a ballgame on a hot June night deep in the heart of Texas. In some ways, it was standard triple-A fare–nice seats, decent concessions, and really good baseball that I could afford to see from right behind the dugout. The Express did a fine job of putting a Texan spin on the experience, and I’m glad I made the trip down.

There were ways in which the setting of this ballpark didn’t do it any favors. It’s sort of way off in the Austin suburbs, with nothing around it that is specifically Texan. I did appreciate that there’s a little bit of a park by the side of the ballpark, and that one could, if one wanted, take a little bit of a nature hike before going in for nine innings of baseball. So that was a little bit Texan. But I didn’t get a sense of neighborhood or region on the inside.


For starters, the name the Express is a pretty killer homage to Nolan Ryan. His statue greets fans here. The train in the play area is number 5714–Ryan’s career strikeout total. And, wonderfully, there is a sculpture of a bull named Moo-lan Ryan. You can’t go wrong there. So in Nolan-love, this ballpark wins the day.



Once inside, a sad reminder. The Express set out a big card to sign for the community of Uvalde that had just suffered their horrific school shooting a week and a half earlier.

The Express weren’t just giving their hearts, but also their money: the 50/50 raffle proceeds were going to the Uvalde community that entire week.

As I looked for dinner, I found the concessions felt appropriate and local. I had a hot dog with pineapple salsa, but could have had Tex-Mex or Ribs if my legendary GI issues would allow it. And the ballpark allowed a 360-degree circumnavigation and a fair amount of shade on a hot day.

This also was the first game I ever saw with an automated strike zone. It turned out to be…absolutely unnoticeable. Only at the start, when I heard Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary shout “The robot didn’t like that one!” at an early pitch by Round Rock’s starter Josh Sborz. It simply wasn’t any kind of issue. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this as a sports official: I suspect there are going to be some unintended consequences that we’re not thinking of yet. There are pitches that graze the strike zone–like the high one dipping down at the back of the plate–that we might now want called strikes. But on this night, as home plate umpire Brian Walsh dutifully relayed what the robot told him, it was a non-issue.

By the way, Texas, I-35 at night on my way to my hotel room in Waco was pretty scary stuff. I know that the speed limits (80, then 75) are appropriate for rural Texas. I had no issue with them the next morning in the daylight. But at night…aren’t we supposed to drive a little slower? Not a huge fan of that drive.

But I was a fan of this ballpark in central Texas and will recommend it to anyone.


Regional feel: 7.5/10. In some ways, this was just kinda nowhere-suburban. But once on the inside, there was a heck of a lot of Texas to be found in its Nolan Ryan-love and its cuisine.

Charm: 3/5. Not bad, but in some ways sort of typical of high-level minor league ballparks. 

Spectacle: 4.5/5. Did a fine job of having a few things going on, but mostly letting the high-level play take center stage. 

Team mascot/name: 4/5. 

Here’s Spike. Good name for a train-based team. Also the Ryan connection. This was a fine mascot.

Aesthetics: 3/5. 
Nothing terribly outstanding here, but a nice sky as the sun went down.



Pavilion area 4/5. I could view the game from absolutely anywhere, and I always appreciate that. 

Scoreability 4/5. A little confusing over a wild pitch/passed ball call, but that’s a tough one to get right.

Fans 3.5/5. Didn’t interact much: mostly people kept to themselves save the guy who looked to my scorebook and asked “Are you a scout?” Guy turned out to be a good dude when I told him no, just a fan who likes to score, but I still am confused why scorebook=scout. No scouts score the game.

Intangibles: 2.5/5. I wish something cool had happened to make this a great night, but as it is, it was just kinda hot.

TOTAL: 36/50


Two solo homers (one each from Andy Burns and Drew Avans) are all the offense the Dodgers can muster against five Express pitchers, most notably Kohei Arihara, who gets the win.

Two hits and two RBIs for the Express’s Yohel Pozo.

Written June 2022.



Avista Stadium, Spokane, Washington

Avista Stadium, Spokane, WASHINGTON

Number of states:  1
To go:  49
Number of games: 4
First game:  July 4, 2003 (Yakima Bears 13, Spokane Indians 7)
Most recent game: July 27, 2019 (Spokane Indians 2, Vancouver Canadians 1, 10 innings)

Can’t think of a more appropriate day to start the Minor League Ballpark Quest than the 4th of July, or a better way to start

it than on a road trip with the cool and awesome girlfriend Michelle.  And get this:  it was her idea. I had a think-out-loud moment where I said I wanted to go to a minor league game in all fifty states, and within minutes she wanted to do a road trip.  Michelle’s a bit of a baseball fan–competitive in my fantasy baseball league and a former employee of a minor league team, so she likes spending some days at the ballpark.  So I was glad to have her come along to get things going.

They’ve done nice work in Spokane with Avista stadium.  I’ll admit they started with a fairly lame promotion…the will-call window is inside a pickup truck.(Get it?  The ticket pickup window?  Yeah, I know, lame.)  But once you get inside, there are multiple positive attributes to the stadium.  For starters, they have a real sense of minor league baseball history.  There’s an entire museum exhibit with the

history of minor league baseball in Spokane.  Two things I did not know:  one, Spokane was the Dodgers’ first farm club after moving to Los Angeles, and that Maury Wills and Steve Garvey and other folks played there, and Tommy Lasorda managed there.  The other is that the Spokane Indians were the victims of the worst accident in American professional sports history when nine members of their team perished when their bus slid off a snowy road in 1949.  I like that there’s a little baseball museum inside the park to teach me stuff like that.

Other nice bits about their fantastic pavilion were clear listings of the lineups (and the fact that I wasn’t the only one copying them),

some fine music, programs for only a buck, and energetic hawkers.  Once I got into the stadium, I found a similar situation to Everett Memorial Stadium in that there were section leaders, mostly perky and attractive college kids,  welcoming you, telling you their names, and volunteering themselves to help in whatever way was necessary.  It made for a fine experience.  In truth, the only drawbacks to the experience were the game (Spokane gave up 8 runs in an endless sixth inning) and a few fans with anger management problems.  Some bastard kept yelling at the umpire during Yakima’s big inning, saying “Ladies and gentlemen, our home plate umpire, born and raised in Yakima!!!”  Does he think he’s clever?  Does the think he’s interesting?  Is he aware how stupid he looks?  Chill out, man, it’s the minor leagues.  If the ump’s bad (and he wasn’t), he’ll be gone soon enough anyway, and this idiot fan will be getting an ulcer about something else.

But I won’t let that override a fine experience, with multiple mascots (Otto the “Spokane-a-saurus”–decked out in patriotic duds and a white beard!–and a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty), a bunch of promotions, and free American flags.  The latter

led to a pretty funny moment–Spokane’s right fielder, Brandon Simon, ran out to his position with a flag in his hand in a patriotic gesture, but appeared (to me) to realize, once he was out there, that he had nowhere he could respectfully put the flag.  So, after a second of aimlessly meandering with his flag, he had to run back to the dugout to hand it to a teammate.

Also, Spokane looked to me to be a fine place–a place I could imagine living happily if ever I decided to leave the big city.  Nice riverfront walk–a good place to spend the evening watching fireworks.  It was a much smaller city than I’d imagined…I know it’s the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, but of course, I never stopped to think how little else there is between Seattle and Minneapolis.  But it felt cozy.

A great place to start the ballpark quest!  I imagine, when I finally cross the 50th state off and finish my quest, when I’m middle-aged and graying, it’ll still be near the top of my list.


Regional feel:  9/10
The museum and the outfield view combine to make this a very high score.

Charm:  4.5/5
It felt just right.

Spectacle:  5/5
Lots of wacky promotions–which I like in the low minors–and none interfered with play.

Team mascot/name:  3/5
Multiple mascots, but “Spokane-o-saurus?”  Please…probably done right about the time of Jurassic Park. And I’m PC enough to be bothered by the nickname “Indians.”

Aesthetics:  5/5
Lovely views and a good-looking stadium.

Pavilion area:  5/5
Again, the museum was perfect, diverse food options…a great feel.

Scoreability:  4/5

Fans: 3.5/5
Lighten up, guys!

Intangibles:  4.5/5
The crappy game didn’t help.

TOTAL:  43.5/50


Spokane’s Andrew Wishy gets 4 hits, including a home run, in a losing cause.  Kevin Richardson also homers for Spokane.  Jamie D’Antona homers for Yakima.  The top of the sixth features 8 runs, 7 hits, two errors, three walks, a hit batsman, a passed ball, and a balk.  That there is short-season A baseball!

The 2013 game ended on a 3-2 pickoff of the tying-run-on-first.  I hadn’t ever seen that before:  it was an awesome way to end a game.

Peter Van Gansen of the Tri-City Dust Devils hits a walk-off single in the 10th inning to lead the Northwest League to victory over the Pioneer League in the first Northwest League/Pioneer League All-Star Game.  You bet my family headed out there to see it…it was a splendid experience. Nice kids signing autographs.  Spokane Indians (like, members of the actual tribe) doing a traditional dance to start the festivities to show their ties to the team. Teams wearing uniforms with the team names listed in Spokane Indian language.  And my second home run derby.  It’s far more fun to watch a home run derby in person.

Written July 2003. Updated April 2016.