Round Rock Express to Field Temporary Expansion Team in Collegiate Wood Bat League
ROUND ROCK, Texas – Baseball is set to return to Dell Diamond this summer! The Round Rock Express announced on Thursday morning that the club was granted a temporary expansion team in the Texas Collegiate League (TCL), the state’s first major collegiate summer wood bat league. The team will be dubbed the Round Rock Hairy Men in a nod to the area’s local urban legend.
The TCL has expanded to field 10 teams for the 2020 season, each made up of active collegiate players competing in a 30-game regular season that runs from June 30 until August 2. Dell Diamond is scheduled to host 15 games in the regular season, with the home opener set for Tuesday, July 7. Stadium capacity will be capped at under 25% to ensure a comprehensive social distancing plan can be implemented properly. Round Rock’s schedule will be announced and tickets for all TCL games played at Dell Diamond will go on sale Monday, June 15 at 10:00 a.m.
The Round Rock Express continue to wait for further clarification from Major League Baseball (MLB) regarding the status of the 2020 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) season. In the event that an agreement is reached to begin the MiLB season prior to the conclusion of the TCL season, Express officials have a plan in place to host both TCL and MiLB games concurrently.
“Given the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 Minor League Baseball season, we are moving forward with hosting other events at Dell Diamond in accordance with public health guidelines,” Express President Chris Almendarez said. “The Texas Collegiate League provides us the opportunity to host live baseball games in front of fans while we await a decision about Round Rock Express baseball. We are excited to give our fans the opportunity to come back out to Dell Diamond and cheer on some of the best collegiate players from Central Texas and beyond this summer.”
The TCL is made up of 10 teams from across Texas and neighboring states. Four current members of the TCL will be competing in 2020, the Brazos Valley Bombers (Bryan, TX), Acadiana Cane Cutters (Youngsville, LA), Texarkana Twins and Victoria Generals. Five MiLB clubs are forming teams to join the TCL in 2020, including Amarillo (Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres), Frisco (Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers), Tulsa (Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers), Round Rock (Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros) and San Antonio (Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers). Amarillo will be fielding two teams.
“As we all cope with the changing landscape in sports in 2020, it is a true honor for all of our ownership groups to team up with these great operators from Triple-A and Double-A Minor League Baseball to help propel the TCL forward as one of the best summer wood bat leagues in the country,” Texas Collegiate League President Uri Geva said.
The league will be divided into two divisions, North and South. The North Division includes Amarillo’s two teams, Frisco, Texarkana and Tulsa while the South Division includes Acadiana, Brazos Valley, Round Rock, San Antonio and Victoria. The 30-game schedule features a three-game home and away series against each divisional opponent as well as a three-game home and away series against one cross-divisional opponent for a total of 15 home games and 15 away games. The postseason consists of a three-game divisional series played by the top two teams in each division, followed by a one-game, winner-take-all championship for the Gerald Haddock Trophy.
Each team’s rosters are composed of active collegiate players from colleges and universities at all levels across the United States. Teams are limited to 35 active players for home games and 30 active players for away games. Unlike traditional Round Rock Express rosters, the players in the TCL are amateur collegiate athletes and therefore not employees of MLB clubs. Round Rock’s full roster and coaching staff will be announced at a later date.
“The Texas Collegiate League is consistently chock full of some of the best collegiate baseball players from our state,” Express General Manager and TCL Alumnus Tim Jackson said. “Traditionally, TCL rosters are made up of players from around the country, but we are confident in our ability to field a team made up primarily of talent from Central Texas. We are utilizing all of our connections with collegiate programs to highlight as many local athletes as we can this summer. We are honored to allow these athletes the opportunity to play at professional venues like Dell Diamond and hope our community comes out to rally around these guys.”
Since the league was established in 2004, more than 500 TCL players have been drafted by MLB clubs, with nearly two dozen ultimately making it to the bigs. Notable TCL alumni include Jake Arrieta, Brandon Belt, Clay Buchholz, Matt Carpenter, Chris Davis, Paul Goldschmidt and former Express stars Brett Nicholas and Hunter Pence. For more information about the league and the 2020 season, visit TCLBaseball.com and follow the TCL on Twitter.
Round Rock’s TCL moniker for 2020 is a nod to the area’s infamous “Hairy Man” urban legend in which a young boy became separated from his parents as early settlers headed west through Round Rock, eventually growing into a rather hairy hermit. The Hairy Man would frequently chase away strangers and hide in trees to scare passersby, sometimes sitting in a tree canopy that grew over the road while dragging his feet on the top of the stagecoach. One day, he fell in front of a stagecoach and was unfortunately trampled to death, doomed to haunt the shady road that bears his name to this day.
Round Rock Hairy Men logos, uniforms and hats were originally designed by Brandiose to be used for the annual Round Rock Express “What Could Have Been Night” in which the club explores alternate worlds where “Express” was not chosen as the team’s nickname in 2000. Round Rock Hairy Men merchandise is available through the Railyard Team Store by clicking here.
“We had been planning to host a Round Rock Hairy Men night for several years, so we are excited to expand upon those plans and share the local legend with baseball fans in Central Texas and beyond with our TCL team this season,” Jackson said. “By using our Hairy Men marks, we also want to be clear that although our staff will be treating each and every Hairy Men game as they would a normal Express game, these are not the traditional, affiliated players that come through Round Rock each season.”
The safety and well-being of staff, guests and the community is of the utmost importance. All guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of Texas will be strictly followed and enforced during the TCL season and all other events at Dell Diamond. Round Rock Express staff are also working closely with Williamson County and City of Round Rock officials to ensure Dell Diamond meets or exceeds all recommended standards. Social distancing protocols will be followed at all TCL games, including a reconfiguration of the seating bowl to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for fans.
The full Round Rock Hairy Men schedule will be released at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15 to coincide with single-game tickets becoming available for purchase. Additional information about the team’s coaching staff and roster will be announced in the near future. Follow the Round Rock Hairy Men on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest news and information.
Round Rock Express Baseball Club, owned and operated by Ryan Sanders Baseball, LP, is the Triple-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros and a member of the Pacific Coast League.