Tomorrow the Corpus Christi Hooks, who are celebrating their 10th year of existence, will play their first home ever game away from Whataburger Field when they host the San Antonio Missions in a Texas State League Futures game at Minute Maid Park.
While Minute Maid Park is usually home to the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball, the facility will transform into a Minor League Ballpark for one night as the Double-A Hooks of the Astros farm system play the San Diego Padres farm club the Missions.
Of course there are some people who might think based on the performance of the Astros the past few 100 plus loss seasons that Minute Maid Park was already playing host to a Minor League ball club.
Despite appearances at times the Astros are in fact a Major League ball club.
Even though the Houston region is home to the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Atlantic League, tomorrow’s game will mark the first affiliated regular season Minor League Baseball game played in Houston in over half a century.
Although there are three Ballparks that the Hooks normally play at within four hours of Houston, for those unable to travel to Frisco, San Antonio or Corpus Christi the Futures Game will be their first chance to see them play in person.
For many years I have traveled to Frisco, Texas to see the Hooks play the Rough Riders at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.
I even ventured out to see the Hooks at their home Ballpark a few years back but bringing the team to the base in Houston is an excellent way to build the brand while giving fans a chance to see the future of the big ball club.
Staging a Minor League game in Houston is also a great way to gauge potential interest in moving one of the team’s clubs closer to the home region as has been a recent trend among the relocation of Triple-A clubs.
Besides market research another thing the Futures Game has going for it is rarity since the chance to see a Minor League Baseball game within a Major League Ballpark does not come along that often.
It is likely that the atmosphere within the Ballpark will be a cross between the intimacy of a Minor League game and the spectacle of excess of a Major League game.
The trick with any event like this is striking the right balance between the two.
The players will also need to strike the balance of not getting overwhelmed at the prospect of being inside a Major League Ballpark and just play their game.
While the stands may be larger the distance between the bases and from the pitcher’s mound to home plate remains the same between a Minor League and Major League diamond.
As noted before I cut my in person baseball watching teeth mostly in the Minor Leagues and have a special place in my heart for the game at that level.
While there are always exceptions, the game at the Minor League level always seemed to be more about the players and less about the pay check.
While every Minor League roster includes high paid prospects for the most part the rosters are filled with guys just trying to make a living playing the game that they love for as long as they can.
Minor League Baseball is also very much about the fan experience. From the kids running after foul balls to the people filling out their score cards there is a certain atmosphere that makes the Ballpark come alive.
In recent years the corporate aspects of the Major League game have made their way into the Minor League system so it will likely not be too long until the Minor Leagues become just as corporate driven as their MLB counterparts.
One can only hope that Minor League games remain affordable to the point where families can continue to go to experience the game in person and pass that love of the game on to future generations.
At its core the game of baseball will always be best experienced live. There are certain elements that even the best surround sound high definition television cannot replicate.
Besides, one cannot catch a ball or a free t-shirt from the comfort of their couch.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to get ready for.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson