We have an opening date for the new Amarillo ballpark, which is set to host its first Class AA Texas League game on April 8, 2019.
The Elmore Sports Group is planning a series of franchise shifts for 2019. The current San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) are moving into the new Amarillo ballpark next season, but the Amarillo club will not use the Missions name. The Missions name and brand will remain in San Antonio, as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will begin play there next season. Meanwhile, the Helena Brewers (Rookie; Pioneer League) will move to Colorado Springs to take the place of the Sky Sox.
A new downtown Amarillo ballpark is currently under construction. According a 2019 home schedule announcement that was issued on Thursday, the ballpark’s first Texas League game will see the yet-to-be-named Amarillo club square off against the Midland RockHounds on Monday, April 8.
The home season includes 70 home games of a 140-game schedule that will run through September 2. It will mark the first time in 37 years that the Texas Panhandle will welcome affiliated baseball into town.
“Our staff is thrilled to bring professional, affiliated baseball back to Amarillo and the Panhandle,” said Amarillo Professional Baseball President and General Manager Tony Ensor. “With this schedule release, the countdown has officially begun on our march for professional baseball’s return to Amarillo. Our staff has already initiated the creative building process to prepare for a special inaugural season and we look forward to making Amarillo’s team the best in all of Minor League Baseball. On April 8, 2019, the hard work, dedication, and passion that so many people in our community have put into making this a reality for Amarillo and the Panhandle will be culminated when the team takes the field for the first time.”
The Texas League is made up of two divisions – North and South – with Amarillo being added into the Southern division. South Division teams include the Corpus Christi Hooks (Houston Astros), Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics) and Frisco Roughriders (Texas Rangers). In the North, teams include the Arkansas Travelers (Seattle), Tulsa Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers), Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals), and Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals). Amarillo will face North division teams at home a total of 28 times and will see South division teams a total of 42 times. The season consists of two halves – crowning a first-half and second-half champion with 70 games each at home and on the road within the two divisions. Playoffs and the championship series begin immediately following the end of the regular season in early September.
The inaugural season in Amarillo kicks off with 10 home games in April, including an opening three-game series versus Midland and seven games total against Corpus Christi. May is loaded with 17 home games, kicking off with a seven-game slate against Springfield and Arkansas followed by three more games with Corpus Christi and seven with Midland.
To start June, the team will welcome the Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate, the Frisco Roughriders, into town for a three-game set while also hosting Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa for a six-game home stretch before taking pausing play for the 2019 All-Star Break from June 24-26. The team will cap off the month with a final four games against Corpus Christi.
The team will begin the 11-game month of July with a four-game set against Frisco on the Fourth of July (July 4-July 7). From July 16-22, they will welcome back Springfield and Northwest Arkansas for a final homestand before concluding the month on the road. August and the first part of September will include 19 more home games to round out Amarillo’s first regular season including eight more matchups against Frisco, four more home games with Midland, and an eight-game homestand against Tulsa and Arkansas to end regular season matchups.
History of professional baseball in Amarillo dates back to 1922-1923 with the Gassers who were a part of the West Texas League and Panhandle-Pecos Valley League. In 1927, the game returned to Amarillo as the Texans in the Western League until 1929. In 1939, the Amarillo Gold Sox were born and played in the West Texas–New Mexico League from 1939-1942 and 1946-1954 with a gap from 1942-1945 due to World War II.
Following no baseball in 1955 and three seasons from 1956-1958 in the Western League, Amarillo joined the Double-A Texas League for the first time and made affiliations with the Baltimore Orioles (1959), New York Yankees (1960-62) and Chicago Cubs (1963). In 1964, the Texas League contracted, and when Amarillo returned to the league a year later, the team was dubbed the Sonics (Houston, 1965–1967) and then the Giants (San Francisco, 1968–1974). In 1975, the franchise moved from the Texas Panhandle, but after only one season, in 1976, the Amarillo Gold Sox returned, and this time as the San Diego Padres affiliate, who moved their Double-A farm club from Alexandria, Louisiana. The Gold Sox spanned for seven more seasons in Amarillo before the franchise moved to Beaumont, Texas in 1983 season and became the Beaumont Golden Gators.