OKC Dodgers, AAA Baseball in Oklahoma City
In 1904 pro baseball came to Oklahoma City for the first time with the formation of the Oklahoma City Metropolitans. The sport became a mainstay in the community has been part of the landscape ever since.
For the next century the franchise went through of series of name changes as different Major League Baseball teams took over ownership. From the Boosters, to 89ers to the RedHawks, the names were as varied as the teams themselves.
However, after the 2014 season, the L.A. Dodgers came calling and made the franchise its minor league AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The organization’s name was changed to the Oklahoma City Dodgers and they brought with them the long legacy of the Dodgers franchise to be an impact in the community.
“One of the things we’ve always taken a lot of pride in is that we want the Oklahoma City Dodgers experience to improve the quality of life for people in Oklahoma,” Dodgers president Michael Byrnes said. “The experience we provide at the games is a key piece to that.”
Home Sweet Home
Before the Oklahoma City Thunder arrived, the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (2 South Mickey Mantle Drive) was the centerpiece of downtown Oklahoma City’s entertainment district. Constructed in 1998, the $34 million park has a seating capacity of more than 9,000 for Dodger home games.
What makes the Bricktown Ballpark more than just a stadium, is the historical value it adds to the community and city. Three statues of some of histories best baseball players stand guard over the park, all of whom have ties to Oklahoma. They include Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and Warren Spahn.
Once fans get inside, the Dodgers want the experience to be more than a game.
“One of the areas we take a lot of pride in is we want to provide quality family entertainment,” Byrnes said. “So we have a dedicated professional who’s sole responsibility is to script all the elements that go on during a game. All the things to make the experience a fun. We do a lot of things to be as interactive with the fans as possible. The entertainment element is kind of in our blood and how we’re programmed.”
Tickets to Oklahoma City Dodgers games can be purchased individually, 7-game packages or season long. Fans can call (405) 218-100 or go online at okcdodgers.com. Walk-up crowds are also welcomed and tickets can be bought at the ticket office, which opens at 10 a.m.
Fans looking to cover themselves with Dodger gear and paraphernalia do not have to travel far once they arrive at a game. The Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark has an Oklahoma City Dodgers team store located near the front entrance where shirts, hats, pennants and other baseball souvenirs can be purchased.
The team store opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. On game days, it opens back up at 6 p.m. through the final out of the contest. Closed Saturday and Sunday when there is no game.
Apparel can also found online at shopokcdodgers.com.
In their first season under the Dodgers banner, Oklahoma City came out swinging for the fences. They racked up an 86-58 record to claim the best record in the PCL and the best record for any Oklahoma City team since the 1965 89ers. It was good enough to earn them the American Northern Division title.
Oklahoma City changed managers in the offseason and are no under the watch of Bill Haselman. After being drafted in 1987, Haselman played 13 years in the major leagues. Part of his minor league stints included stops with the Oklahoma City 89ers from 1991-92.
“The Dodgers brand itself is so impactful; it’s internationally known,” Byrnes said. “There is certainly a better understanding of our fan base. A player playing here in Oklahoma City could be playing for the Major League Dodgers tomorrow. That link is very clear in term of what they are striving for and where they ultimately will end up.”