PLAY BALL: Tulsa Drillers pitcher Chris Anderson delivers the first pitch of 2016 at ONEOK Field before a record crowd.
Courtesy RICH CRIMI
The Tulsa Drillers baseball franchise is celebrating its 40th season of play this year. Professional baseball has been played in Tulsa since 1905, but the Drillers franchise was born in 1977. Local businessman Bill Rollings and Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Clark purchased a Texas League team that had been playing in Lafayette, Louisiana, and they moved it to Tulsa.
The Drillers served 26 seasons as an affiliate of the Texas Rangers before joining the Colorado Rockies organization in 2003. The Drillers are currently in its second season as the Double-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the Drillers’ 40 seasons of play, a number of future major league stars have played for the team. The list includes Mark Teixeira and Troy Tulowitzki as well as Major League s Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez. Rodriguez is expected to eventually become the first former Drillers player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 2010 season was the first season that the Drillers played in their new home: ONEOK Field. Since the team’s move to downtown Tulsa, more than 2.3 million fans have attended Drillers games at ONEOK Field.
For the Drillers’ 2016 season, 19 fireworks shows and a number of other promotions are scheduled to help celebrate the Drillers’ four decades of play.