American League Champions Coming to Alamodome
First Place Royals and Resurgent Rangers Highlight 2016 MLB Weekend
It's slated to be an American League showdown for the ages as H-E-B Big League Weekend officials announced the 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals will face off against the 2010 and 2011 American League Champion Texas Rangers March 18-19 in San Antonio.
SPRING TRAINING IN SAN ANTONIO - This will be the fourth year for H-E-B Big League Weekend, a two-game Major League Baseball exhibition hosted at the iconic Alamodome in downtown San Antonio. Attendance has averaged nearly 30,000 fans per game over the first three years of the event.
Ryan Sanders Baseball, whose principal ownership group includes Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, produces the event in partnership with the Texas Rangers, the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau and the San Antonio Missions.
"We're excited to bring in two baseball powerhouses in the Royals and the Rangers to the Alamodome," said Big League Weekend Executive Director J.J. Gottsch. "We're committed to bringing in the best teams possible. With both the Royals and Rangers very much in the postseason hunt, we're excited for the fans in San Antonio to see this high caliber of play next March."
DEFENDING CHAMPS - The Royals are in the playoff chase again this year after making it to the postseason last season for the first time in twenty-nine years. After winning the AL Wild Card game in 12 innings, they went on to sweep the ALDS and ALCS, posting an 8-0 record to start the playoffs. They went on to play the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, losing in 7 games. Their 89 wins for the season were the most for the franchise since 1989.
ALL-STARS GALORE - In 2015, Kansas City sent seven players to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game: OF Lorenzo Cain, P Wade Davis, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Alex Gordon, P Kelvin Herrera, 3B Mike Moustakas and C Salvador Perez.
EVERYONE IS WATCHING - The Royals have the most wins in the American League this year (85) and success off the field has followed as well. The Royals broke the previous franchise record of 2,477,700 in 1989, when fan number 2,477,701 entered Kauffman Stadium last Wednesday. The Royals television broadcasts are also the highest-rated in Major League Baseball.
RANGERS RESURGANCE - The Texas Rangers have rebounded from an injury-plagued 2014 season to be strong postseason contenders in 2015. Under first year manager Jeff Banister, Texas has posted one of the top records in the majors since the All-Star break at 34-21, and lead the American League with a 41-37 (.547) road record. Designated hitter Prince Fielder, first baseman Mitch Moreland, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, and lefthanders Derek Holland and Martin Perez have all made major contributions after being hampered by injuries for most of 2014. Righthander Shawn Tolleson has emerged as one of the AL's top closers, leading the league with 32 saves since May 20.
THE NEWCOMERS - Texas added righthanded starter Yovani Gallardo and rookie center-fielder Delino DeShields in the off-season and both have paid huge dividends. But it was the moves made by the club in late July and August that allowed for the Rangers' surge over the final two months. Four-time All-Star LHP Cole Hamels was acquired to solidify the rotation, LHP Jake Diekman and RHP Sam Dyson added depth to the bullpen, and Mike Napoli and Will Venable provided additional offense.
BIG LEAGUE CROWDS, BIG LEAGUE FUN - Over 75,000 fans packed the Alamodome when the Rangers hosted the San Diego Padres in the inaugural Big League Weekend games in 2013. It was the first baseball event in the building's 20-year history. In 2014, The Silver Boot rivalry kicked off in San Antonio as the Rangers took on their in-state rivals Houston Astros. Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Rangers in the two-game exhibition.
MORE THAN A GAME - In addition to the two games each year, there are several other events surrounding the weekend that make it special for any baseball fan. Some events include the Big League Weekend Fan Fest, a sports collectible show and post-game concerts on the field.
BIG NAME DINNER - One event that has now become a tradition with the weekend is the Legends Dinner that takes place the night before the first game. The dinner, hosted by Nolan Ryan, has included Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry and a very entertaining Pete Rose last year. Information on next year's dinner, including guests, sponsorships and ticket purchase, will be announced at a later date.
SPRING BREAK IN SAN ANTONIO - The timing of the exhibition series will coincide with spring break for the second consecutive year. "Next March is going to be an exciting time to come to San Antonio, offering visitors not only exciting baseball with H-E-B Big League Weekend, the World Champion San Antonio Spurs, season openings at SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and all the great attractions and events for which our city is known. San Antonio needs to be in everyone's Spring Break plans for 2016!" said Casandra Matej, the Executive Director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau.