It is no doubt that 2020 was a difficult year for everyone in sports. For the Tulsa Drillers, the year was dramatically changed with the cancellation of the entire Minor League Baseball season, but the team continued to pursue ways to be a part of the Tulsa community. Those efforts
It is no doubt that 2020 was a difficult year for everyone in sports. For the Tulsa Drillers, the year was dramatically changed with the cancellation of the entire Minor League Baseball season, but the team continued to pursue ways to be a part of the Tulsa community. Those efforts did not go unnoticed as the Drillers, along with the Amarillo Sod Poodles, have been named the Texas League’s Co-Organizations of the Year for 2020.
This year’s award marks the fourth time in the past eight years that the Drillers franchise has received the honor and the seventh time overall since the award began in 1989.
“In order to celebrate the great efforts our clubs have put forth during 2020, the baseball season that never was, the Texas League has decided to recognize two teams for their ingenuity, creativity and incredible work ethic in providing events in their communities ranging from college baseball games, COVID- related outreaches and digital programs, etc.” said Texas League President Tim Purpura. “The Texas League is very pleased to recognize the Amarillo Sod Poodles and the Tulsa Drillers as co-Organizations of the Year for 2020. Congratulations to both clubs, their owners, management and fans for keeping things positive during trying times.”
This year’s honor came under much different circumstances than the previous times.
The cancellation of the 2020 Minor League Baseball season presented a never before seen scenario for franchises. Once the cancellation was announced, the Drillers immediately started to look for ways to make the best of a bad situation.
When it became clear that a baseball season could be held safely, but on a smaller scale than normal, the Drillers agreed to join the Texas Collegiate Baseball League and began development of a team. The team, led by manager Tom Holliday, brought elite, college baseball talent from all over the country to Tulsa for a 30-game regular season.
From June 30 through August 4, the TCL season brought 16 total games to ONEOK Field before a limited-capacity audience when baseball seemed unlikely just weeks earlier. These games were the first publicly attended sporting events in Tulsa since the beginning of the pandemic and helped to give citizens a small sense of normalcy.
On the field, the TCL Drillers advanced to the TCL Championship Game, coming within one win of claiming the league title.
Once the TCL season ended, the Drillers organization continued to look for unique ways to utilize ONEOK Field. These efforts resulted in new partnerships within the Tulsa Arts community as the Drillers partnered to host the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, the Tulsa Community College Signature Symphony and the Tulsa Opera.
The first of these events was an outdoor concert by the Tulsa Symphony that brought national media attention as it was the first symphony performance in the United States since the pandemic.
That event was followed a few weeks later by a concert from the TCC Signature Symphony and then a performance from the Tulsa Opera.
In November, ONEOK Field and the Drillers hosted early voting for the 2020 Presidential Election. With help from the Tulsa County Election Board, ONEOK Field became the exclusive early voting location in Tulsa County with over 15,000 voters safely casting their ballots at the stadium.
Overall, in a year that saw the cancellation of many events, the Drillers safely brought over 50,000 thousand people to downtown Tulsa to create a positive impact for fans as well as nearby businesses.
Efforts that resulted in the recognition as Texas League Co-Organization of the Year.