Batter up! Spring training is headed to San Antonio. The 2017 H-E-B Big League Weekend at the Alamodome takes place on March 17 and 18 with a two-game Major League Baseball (MLB) exhibition as the American League West Division Champion Texas Rangers set out to play the American League Central Division Champion Cleveland Indians. In its 5th year, H-E-B Big League Weekend has been a host to thousands of baseball fans from across the country. In just its first four years, more than 240,000 made their way to San Antonio for the event—and that number is expected to grow exponentially this year.
One of the most interesting aspects of Big League Weekend is the opportunity for fans to see the infamous Alamodome turned into a baseball facility. Usually used as a football stadium or concert venue, the transformation for Big League Weekend requires a 133,000 square-foot custom field for the Alamodome floor, which is created through a collaboration between Ryan Sanders Baseball and AstroTurf. Additionally, more than 300 cubic yards of dirt is brought in each year for the base around the infield, and custom dugouts, bullpens, netting and walls are also installed.
A Brief History of H-E-B Big League Weekend
Starting in 2013, H-E-B Big League Weekend was created through a partnership with Nolan Ryan, the Texas Rangers, Ryan Sanders Baseball, the San Antonio Missions and the city of San Antonio. While the main attraction for the weekend is of course the exhibition games themselves, there are also a variety of other events surrounding the games that help to give fans an extra special experience. Every year the Texas Rangers invite a rival team from around the league to play the two-game exhibition. As already mentioned, this year’s opponent is the Cleveland Indians. Throughout the history of the event, the Rangers have compiled a tied overall record from the past four years:
W – Texas Rangers 5, San Diego Padres 4
W – Texas Rangers 5, San Diego Padres 2
L – Texas Rangers 5, Houston Astros 6
L – Texas Rangers 6, Houston Astros 13
L – Texas Rangers 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 11
L – Texas Rangers 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 11
W – Texas Rangers 7, Kansas City Royals 5
W – Texas Rangers 13, Kansas City Royals 6
As the Rangers prepare to play the Indians in 2017, they’re hoping to improve on their overall record.
Two days spent at H-E-B Big League Weekend can truly make any baseball fan’s dreams come true. In addition to the exhibition games, there are multiple events that feature meet-and-greets with retired players, opportunities to purchase limited edition baseball collectibles, and the chance to get your groove on at post game concerts.
Kings of the Diamond Dinner
On March 16, Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan, and American League Manager of the Year, Terry Francona, will host the Kings of the Diamond Dinner to kick off Big League Weekend. According to H-E-B Big League Weekend, “The annual dinner has included several of baseball’s most influential players including Hall of Famers: Lou Brock and Gaylord Perry (2014), Pete Rose (2015) and the Kansas City Royals George Brett last year.
“We’ve had the opportunity to hear candid conversations from the game’s best over the last three years,” Ryan Sanders CEO Reese Ryan said. “By bringing in Terry, fans will get to see the game from the perspective of not only a player, but one of the winningest managers in baseball.”
Fan are also always excited to see Nolan Ryan, who is known for being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility on July 25, 1999, on 98.79% of the eligible ballots, a figure which remains the second highest in history. Ryan is also the only player to ever have his uniform number retired by three different teams with the Angels (#30), the Astros (#34) and of course, the Rangers (#34).
The Kings of the Diamond Dinner will take place on Thursday, March 16 at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour before the dinner begins at 7 p.m. The event will benefit HeartGift, the Miracle League of San Antonio and the Nolan Ryan Foundation.
To purchase individual tickets or a table for the Kings of the Diamond Dinner, contact Elisa Fogle via email or by phone at 210-229-1847.
Ultra PRO Sports Collectibles Show
Filled with baseball card giveaways, opportunities to get autographs and photos with players and coaches from the league, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia, the Ultra PRO Sports Collectible Show is in its third year as part of H-E-B Big League Weekend. The 2017 Show will feature former Houston Astros star outfielder, Jose Cruz, who was named a National League All-Star in 1980 and 1985. Cruz’s number (#25) was also retired by the Astros in 1992.
Fans have the chance to get a signed autograph from Cruz beginning at 5:30pm on Friday, March 17, and 12pm on Saturday, March 18. Additionally, the first 2,500 fans in attendance each day will be given a commemorative H-E-B Big League Weekend baseball card, as well as a pack of Topps baseball cards and other Ultra PRO collecting supplies.
Some of the main items featured in the show include a rare 1930s Babe Ruth baseball, and authentic signed photos, jerseys, bats, baseballs and thousands of baseball cards ranging from 1950s Mickey Mantle to brand new 2017 Topps cards.
The Ultra PRO Sports Collectible Show is located on the South Club Level of the Alamodome, and admission is free for all H-E-B Big League Weekend ticket holders. The event will run from the time the gates open each day (4:30pm on Friday and 11:30am on Saturday) through the end of each game.
Post Game Concerts
One of the most anticipated events of H-E-B Big League Weekend is always the post game concerts. This year’s headliners for the weekend’s concerts are Smash Mouth and Los Lonely Boys.
“We are excited to add two iconic musical groups to our H-E-B Big League Weekend lineup,” said J.J. Gottsch, H-E-B Big League Weekend Executive Director. “Fans will get the unique opportunity to come down the playing field after the game to listen to these great bands.”
Smash Mouth will perform following Friday night’s game, while the Los Lonely Boys will take the stage on Saturday after the completion of game two.
For more information or to find out how to purchase tickets for the weekend’s games, be sure to visit the H-E-B Big League Weekend official website. Here are some additional notes to keep in mind:
- Tickets start at $10.
- Friday’s game starts at 7pm and Saturday’s game at 2pm.
- Doors open two hours before game time, giving fans the chance to watch batting practice and pre-game ceremonies.
- Thinking about bringing a large group to the game? Discounted tickets are available for groups of 20 or more.