Kelly Gavin/Manager Photography/Texas Rangers Ballclub
On March 29, 2013, the Texas Rangers’ 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres was part of Alamodome history as the first ever baseball game to be played inside the structure during its 20-year history. Sponsored by HEB and Ryan-Sanders Baseball, both ball clubs participated in what was called “Big League Weekend,” that gave the city of San Antonio a chance to watch two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams play in a spring training exhibition game.
In Friday’s opening game, the Rangers edged out the Padres behind RBIs from Nelson Cruz, A.J. Pierzynski, Mitch Moreland and Leonys Martin, and starter Alexi Ogando pitched four innings collecting four strike outs and allowing three runs. Texas played five other pitchers through the game, but it was Robbie Ross that collected the very first win in the Alamodome and Joe Nathan who notched the save.
San Diego did make the first impression when starting outfielder Will Venable hit a solo home run to straight away center in just the second at-bat of the game. Venable, a former San Antonio Mission, will now be the first batter to ever hit a home run in the Alamodome. Former Missions ballplayers Jedd Gyorko and Jonathan Galvez also had home runs on the night. The Missions are the Double-A affiliate to the Padres.
The weekend series provided San Antonio fans an opportunity to watch some of today’s baseball stars, such as Rangers infielders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, and starting pitcher Derek Holland.
“This is a feather in the Rangers cap to be playing down here in front of this many people in sort of a neutral ground so to speak,” said Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman who was hitless Friday.
The crowd of 34,691 made a huge impression on the game with everything from ‘Let’s go Rangers’ chants’, to the old fashioned wave, and showed San Antonio was well invested Rangers baseball.
“I thought for a while they [San Antonio crowd] had the place rocking,” Manager Ron Washington said. “If I’m not mistaken, they were for the Texas Rangers. They was loud, they expressed their opinions, and it was a good night.”
The Alamodome was converted into a 133,000 square foot custom designed baseball field. The majority of the field was composed of a MLB approved Astroturf similar to that of the old Houston Astros Astrodome.
Recently Texas has had its most successful run as a franchise making the playoffs three consecutive season including back-to-back Worlds Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. Following this final spring training series the Rangers open the season against now American League West rival Houston Astros Sunday night on ESPN.