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Tulsa Drillers, Hoppel score Texas League awards

Texas LeagueThe Tulsa Drillers were named the Class AA Texas League Organization of the Year for 2013, while Midland RockHounds GM Monty Hoppel was named executive of the year.

“To be awarded the 2013 Texas League Organization of the Year is a tremendous honor for the entire Tulsa Drillers organization,” said general manager Mike Melega. “It truly takes a complete team effort to earn this recognition. I could not be more proud of our front office team, our seasonal staff and our community partners for working together to provide a wonderful experience for our fans at every game.”

The 2013 season was one of the most successful in the history of the Drillers franchise. The club had sellouts for 14 of their 69 dates at ONEOK Field, the most sellouts in one season in the 109-year history of professional baseball in the city of Tulsa.

Total attendance for Drillers games, including two home playoff games, totaled 401,364, the second highest total in Tulsa baseball history. Tulsa’s regular season attendance ranked fifth-highest among the 30 Double-A teams in Minor League Baseball.

In addition, ONEOK Field hosted its fourth straight sellout for the annual Bedlam Game between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University as well as several other special events.

“When considering each important area of the Drillers’ operation, I was impressed by how comprehensively Mike Melega and the Drillers staff met or surpassed the expectations of their fans and their partners,” said Texas League president Tom Kayser. “The Drillers treat each fan as a guest, whether they are visiting for the first time or are longtime fans. This attitude is a reflection of the policies begun under Went Hubbard and continued under his sons, Dale and Jeff Hubbard.”

“In addition, ONEOK Field is such a wonderful facility that is clean and fan-friendly with knowledgeable employees and a fantastic selection of top-notch food and beverage choices.”

For Hoppel, this is the fifth time he’s snared the executive of the year award/ Since the award’s inception in 1965, only legendary executives Bill Valentine of Arkansas (six) and Jim Paul of El Paso (five) have captured the Texas League honor on five or more occasions.

Monty’s previous awards came in 1991, 1995, 2002, and 2009. The first followed the purchase of the franchise by Miles Prentice and Bob Richmond, a partnership which entered its third decade in 2010. 

“It is once again an honor to be the Texas League Executive of the Year. I have always felt the Texas League has the best owners and staff of any league in Minor League Baseball,” Hoppel said. “I am humbled to be chosen because we have so many great operators.”

In 1995, the Angels passed the 200,000 single-season attendance mark, an accomplishment thought impossible in a market the size of the Permian Basin (the Angels drew 202,830 at Christensen Stadium).

The 2002 season saw the opening of First American Bank (now Citibank) Ballpark and the Scharbauer Sports Complex. Hoppel spearheaded, as he puts it, a remarkable “grass roots” effort that led to the sports complex becoming a reality, ushering the franchise (and sports in West Texas) into a new era. 

In 2009, a season in which many franchises nationwide saw at least a slight drop in attendance, the RockHounds per game attendance actually increased. Including the four playoff games, which drew 14,246, the RockHounds reached an all-time attendance record (296,529) for the second consecutive season, setting new marks in the seventh and eighth seasons at Citibank Ballpark, a remarkable feat.

This season, the increases in attendance continued, as the RockHounds set a new single-season record of 317,233. Despite being in the 12th year of Citibank Ballpark, 2013 marked the eighth straight season that the club saw anincrease in per-game attendance (most teams in Minor League Baseball suffer a dramatic decrease after the first couple years in a new ballpark).

Since Hoppel was named General Manager in 1990, the franchise has seen 5,587,277 fans come through the gates to support baseball in West Texas.

“This award is a true testament of our entire RockHounds staff,” Hoppel said. “We have such great people who all have contributed to our success. I can truly say that I have the best staff to work alongside, and I appreciate all their expertise and hard work.”


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