HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Astros have invited the Asheville Tourists franchise to be their Advanced Class A affiliate for the 2021 season and beyond. Should the Tourists accept the offer, it would become official in the coming weeks.
With the addition of Asheville, the Astros have rounded out their four minor league affiliates for the 2021 season, which also includes Triple A Sugar Land, Double A Corpus Christi and Class A Fayetteville. The Astros have an ownership stake in all three franchises.
“The Astros are very excited about partnering with the Tourists franchise and setting up roots in the City of Asheville,” said Astros General Manager James Click. “Asheville is one of the most historic franchises in all of minor league baseball and we look forward to adding to that history.”
“We are thrilled to receive the invitation from the Houston Astros and to partner with them as part of their organization,” said Tourists President and Owner Brian DeWine. “Baseball’s return to Asheville this Spring will give us a season we will never forget.”
Professional baseball has been played in Asheville, N.C., dating back to the 1800’s with the Tourists team name dating back to 1915. The original home of the Tourists was McCormick Field, built in 1924, which played host to several legendary ballplayers, including Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In 1934, the Tourists joined affiliated baseball as a Red Sox minor league club and have been affiliated with 11 different Major League teams over the last 75 years. They’ve spent the last 26 years as the Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies (1994-2020), with all of those seasons played at McCormick Field, completely renovated in 1992.
The Tourists previously served as the Astros Class A affiliate twice, for a year in 1967 and then again from 1982-93, with the 1984 club winning the South Atlantic League Championship. Two players from the Astros Hall of Fame suited up for the Tourists in the 1980’s, Craig Biggio (1987) and Shane Reynolds (1989).
The Tourists are owned and operated by DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball LLC.
The Astros announced their affiliation with Triple A Sugar Land in November and will commence play at Constellation Field for the 2021 season. Sugar Land joins the organization after spending the last 10 years in the Independent Atlantic League (2010-20), which included two league titles (2016, 2018). Their home, Constellation Field, which opened in 2012, is located approximately 22 miles from Minute Maid Park.
The Astros will be returning to Corpus Christi for their 16th consecutive season in 2021, dating back to the club’s move to the Texas League in 2005. The home of the Hooks, Whataburger field, which also opened in 2005, underwent a renovation in the 2019-20 offseason, which improved the stadiums netting, batting cages, weight room and clubhouse. Other upgrades were made to the suites, the stadium’s berm, irrigation, and the playing surface.
The Astros have operated the Class A Fayetteville franchise since the 2017 season, originally joining the Carolina League as an expansion team. The team operated as the Buies Creek Astros for two seasons (2017-18) before moving to their permanent home in Fayetteville, N.C., and rebranding as the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. The Woodpeckers play at Segra Stadium, which opened for the 2019 season.