We are in the process of moving this content to our new website.
Thank you for your patience during this transition period.

NOW IN STOCK

Updated for 2015: the laminated, sturdy Baseball Travel Map
-Only $9.95-

ALL THE PARKS

Images of all 30 MLB parks! Touring The Majors® poster
Get it now for just $19.95!

Take me out to the BaseballParks.com store!

Showdown in Bricktown


Sacramento overpowers Braves in second annual game

In 2004, Minor League News named Oklahoma City's SBC Bricktown Ballpark the nicest in all of Minor League baseball. That's quite a compliment considering the number of parks there are in the Minors, but it's well-deserved. The facility's architecture accomplishes a rare triple-play, in that it is aesthetically pleasing, functional and different than what you find elsewhere. And its setting, in the incredible urban-renewal neighborhood called Bricktown, is simply perfect.

So when the rulers of Minor League Baseball decided to resurrect the concept of a playoff between the winners of the two Triple-A leagues in 2006, Oklahoma City seemed the natural place to hold it. The previous incarnation of the premise died with barely a whimper, as a playoff series in Las Vegas each September failed due to lack of interest ... and ticket buyers.

But the inaugural Bricktown event, a winner-take-all contest on September 19 2006, was the exact opposite of the moribund series in Vegas. A huge, boisterous crowd filled the beautiful park (now called AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, after SBC morphed into AT&T) to watch Tucson overpower Toledo, ensuring that the one-game championship would come back for an encore in 2007.

So for the second-annual Bricktown Showdown, the Sacramento River Cats, the winners of the Pacific Coast League playoffs, came to Oklahoma City to take on the Richmond Braves, fresh off a come-from-behind victory in the International League finals. Many wondered if the event would generate the same kind of enthusiasm as it had in its first year. Never fear: Oklahoma City did not disappoint the baseball world with the show it put on.

There are so many positive things you can say about the host facility of the event, but let's start with the entrances to the park. There are three main entryways, and the plaza in front of each is named for the player honored by the statue found there. Behind third base is the Mickey Mantle Plaza, which rises above the canals that snake around the Bricktown area. A photo of this is found in our Pacific Coast League Photo Album.

At the entryway behind home plate you'll find the statue of another famous Oklahoman, Johnny Bench (above left). The newest statue at the park is at the right-field entrance, where Warren Spahn, in full wind-up (above right), provides the photo op for fans entering from the east.

Because this was a premium event for Minor League Baseball -- and it was televised on ESPN2 -- there were a number of special features before and during the game. The first had retired reliever Goose Gossage making a presentation of the 2007 Most Spectacular Pitcher award to Kevin Pucetas (above left), who registered an incredible 1.86 ERA at Augusta that season. One of the most popular promotions in the Minors is the Zooperstars, whose zany cast of inflatable characters criss-cross the country each summer, playing to packed ballparks. In the center photo above, Whale Gretzky of the troupe sprays silly string at the fans. Birdzerk, shown above right with an accomplice dressed as an ump, also entertained the spectators.

The pregame ceremonies were conducted with all the fanfare that befits a championship game. The players and coaches were introduced before the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem (above left). The first pitch (above right) was thrown by Richmond's Blaine Boyer a few minutes later. The lead-off batter for the River Cats was Nick Blasi. It didn't take long for Sacramento to build an insurmountable lead, with Lou Merloni (the game's MVP) and Brant Colamarino homering in the third inning, propelling the PCL champs to a 5-0 advantage.

Sacramento held onto the lead, thanks largely to the effective relief work of winning pitcher Kazuhito Tadano. He allowed only three hits over four and a third innings in the middle of the contest, and that helped his team breeze to a 7-1 victory ... and with it, the championship of Triple-A baseball! PCL President Branch B. Rickey presented the trophy to the winners following the game (above right).

So Oklahoma City hosted a game in which both teams were from more than 1,000 miles away, yet the attendance was an incredible 11,124. That's impressive. Here's hoping that the Bricktown Showdown becomes an annual staple of the Minor League postseason!