With summer comes baseball, but Austin is one of the largest cities that doesn’t have a major league team. What Austin lacks in a major league team, it makes up with its minor league team — the Round Rock Express. Just a 30-minute ride north to the Dell Diamond and you can enjoy the Express, co-owned and named after Nolan Ryan (his nickname was “The Ryan Express”).
The best part is you don’t even have to enjoy baseball to have fun at a Round Rock Express game. Between the funny team names (Sacramento River Cats, Albuquerque Isotopes, Omaha Storm Chasers), giveaways, cheap drinks and old ladies shaking their tail during the chicken dance, even a sports curmudgeon will have a good time.
It wouldn’t be minor league baseball without silly between-inning games. If you are the perfect state of drunk-but-not-too-drunk, it could be your lucky day to win a tricycle race. During Baseball’s Greatest Flick promotion, you and your whole section could be invited to a private screening at Flix Brewhouse with two Round Rock Express players. I’ve never been picked for a between-inning game, but hopefully, one day, my dream of victoriously rolling a tire around a baseball field will come true.
There are plenty giveaways on the calendar too. Express games have typical giveaways, like bobbleheads and team photos, but you’ll also find some unconventional promotions as well. There’s Nolan Ryan Snow Monkey giveaway day Aug. 4 pesented by Chicken Express (based on an obscure podcast reference). June 16 is used car night. Four people will leave with a “new” used car. It’s always worth hanging out with your friend’s weird boyfriend if you leave with a free car.
You can find all of your favorite baseball stadium food at Dell Diamond as well. Come with an empty stomach so you'll have room for a five-course baseball stadium dinner of nachos, pretzel, hot dog, second hot dog and funnel cake for dessert. If you are on a budget, Monday’s are dollar hot dog and soda days. Thirsty Thursday’s feature cheap beer, just don’t forget you have to drive back to Austin.
If that’s not enough to get a sports virgin to Round Rock, there are fireworks at Friday games, concerts on select Saturday nights (catch Bob Schneider this Saturday), kid friendly events on HEB Sundays, and two for one tickets on Tuesdays. If you get hot, you can always hang out in the pool in right field. Yeah, there are a pool and spa in right field.
If you’re into baseball, I guess there’s that too. The Round Rock Express is a Triple A team for the Texas Rangers. Suspended major leaguer Manny Ramirez will be playing against the Express May 21 – 24 for the Sacramento River Cats. Get your tickets early for that one.
Bring a group and, not only will you get discounted tickets, but you'll be recognized on the scoreboard. No one's stopping you from making up a fake group name. The team has home games until the end of August so why not become a regular.
You never know, Will Ferrell might show up.
Get the full Round Rock express schedule and ticket links here.