Sugar Land Skeeters
|Sugar Land Skeeters|
|League||Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (Freedom Division)|
|Location||Sugar Land, Texas|
|Ballpark||Constellation Field (2012–present)|
|League championships||2 (2016, 2018)|
|Division championships||5 (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019)|
|Former league(s)||Constellation Energy League (2020)|
|Colors||Blue, black, yellow, white|
|Media||Fort Bend Star, Fort Bend Independent, Fort Bend Herald, Houston Chronicle|
The Sugar Land Skeeters are an American professional baseball team located in Sugar Land, Texas. The Skeeters play in the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB), which is an independent league not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They have played their home games at Constellation Field since the beginning of the 2012 season.
The Skeeters entered the Atlantic League as an expansion team in 2010. They are the first Atlantic League team to play outside of the Northeast; the team is also the first of a planned western division to include four to six other teams. The Skeeters are the first independent league baseball team in Sugar Land and the first in the Greater Houston metropolitan area since the Houston Buffaloes' final season in 1961.
The team's name, "Skeeters", is a Southern slang word for mosquito, and was the result of a team-sponsored name-the-team contest. Part of the reason for the naming is that mosquitoes are very common on summer nights in Southeast Texas.
The Sugar Land Skeeters have played in three Atlantic League Championships. In 2014, they were swept 3–0 by the Lancaster Barnstormers in the best-of-five game series. They returned for the second time in 2016, where they won the ALPB title, 3–0, against the Long Island Ducks. Matched up against the Ducks again in 2018, the Skeeters won their second ALPB Championship in franchise history after a 4–1 win in a decisive Game 5.
In 2008, Sugar Land, Texas, residents voted for the allocation of civic revenues toward the construction of a new baseball park. Initially, the Omaha Royals were interested in moving to the city, but eventually declined because of the construction of Werner Park in suburban Omaha, Nebraska. City of Sugar Land officials contracted Opening Day Partners to build the ballpark to bring professional baseball to the region. The city knew that the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB) would not approve of an affiliated team in the Greater Houston area, so Sugar Land chose the independent circuit. The American Association and the United Baseball League were also considered since both organizations had teams located in Texas. The city decided on the Atlantic League mainly because Opening Day Partners' other teams were already members of that league. Sugar Land's entry in the Atlantic League was officially announced on May 18, 2010.
The Skeeters began using a bullpen car in 2012. On August 20, 2012, the Skeeters announced that they were signing former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens. They also announced that Clemens would be the starting pitcher for the Skeeters on August 25, 2012. The Skeeters sold out the night of Clemens' start, where he pitched 3 1⁄3 innings in a 1–0 win.
The Sugar Land City Council approved an ownership change on October 28, 2014. The Council's action cleared the way for Houston-area residents Bob and Marcie Zlotnik, who had been one-third minority partners since the 2012 season, to assume full ownership of SL Baseball, LLC.
Also in the 2014 season, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball All-Star Game was held at Constellation Field, home of the Skeeters. Usually, in each annual All-Star Game, the best players from the Freedom Division battle it out with the best players from the Liberty Division. However, in the 2014 event, the best players from all around the league faced the Skeeters. The Skeeters won on their home field by a score of 5–3. Nick Stavinoha was recognized with the MVP Award for the game. The game attendance was 7,555, which was the fourth highest All-Star Game attendance at the time.
On September 17, 2015, the Skeeters announced the signing of former MLB All-Star Rafael Palmeiro, who had been in retirement for ten years. His son, Patrick Palmeiro, was also a member of the team that year. Shortly after signing with the Skeeters, the elder Palmeiro said, "We discussed me playing earlier this year and it's something I've looked forward to since then. The chance to play with my son is an opportunity the Skeeters have offered me and I'm very excited to make it happen this weekend." On September 18, 2015, Rafael Palmeiro debuted for the Skeeters batting third, which was the spot right after his son. The father-son duo combined for five RBIs to lead Sugar Land to a 10–4 victory over the Camden Riversharks.
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2017 season, Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti stepped down from his position with the expiration of his contract. Gaetti, the only manager in franchise history at the time, was hired as the club's inaugural skipper in 2011 and managed the club for their first six seasons (2012–2017).
The Skeeters returned to the championship series in 2018 against the Long Island Ducks, winning three games to two to win their second championship overall and second in three years. They returned to the championship series again the following year, also against Long Island (making it the third time in four years that these two teams faced each other in the finals), but lost in the maximum five games.
2020 (Constellation Energy League)
In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Skeeters organization announced they would launch their own four-team independent league—the Constellation Energy League—with play beginning on July 3, thereby going on hiatus for the 2020 ALPB season. On June 29, 2020, the Skeeters announced that opening day would be pushed back to July 10 due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases over the preceding two-week period.
All games were played at Constellation Field, with a maximum of 1,800 fans (31% of stadium capacity) allowed at each game in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Rosters were composed of former MLB players and other professionals who had previously played in minor league or independent baseball. Skeeters skipper Pete Incaviglia managed one of the teams, the father-son duo of Roger Clemens and Koby Clemens managed another team, and former MLB pitchers Greg Swindell and Dave Eiland each managed their own teams. The names of the four teams were: Sugar Land Skeeters (managed by Pete Incaviglia), Team Texas (managed by Roger and Koby Clemens), Sugar Land Lightning Sloths (managed by Greg Swindell), and Eastern Reyes del Tigre (managed by Dave Eiland).
|Sugar Land Skeeters|
|Season||W–L Record||Win %||Finish||Playoffs|
|2012||64–76||.457||4th in Freedom Division||Did not qualify for the playoffs|
|2013||95–45||.679||1st in Freedom Division||0–3 (lost first round to Somerset)|
|2014||80–60||.571||2nd in Freedom Division||3–5 (lost championship to Lancaster)|
|2015||68–71||.489||3rd in Freedom Division||Did not qualify|
|2016||74–66||.529||2nd in Freedom Division||6–0 (won championship against Long Island)|
|2017||67–73||.479||3rd in Freedom Division||Did not qualify|
|2018||81–43||.653||1st in Freedom Division||6–4 (won championship against Long Island)|
|2019||72–66||.522||2nd in Freedom Division||5–4 (lost championship to Long Island)|
|2020*||17–11||.607||1st in Constellation Energy League||—|
In December 2010, StarTex Power bought the rights to name the future ballpark of the Skeeters. The initial name of the field was StarTex Power Field. A year later, StarTex merged with Constellation Energy and the name Constellation Field was born on December 2011. Constellation Field opened on April 26, 2012, when the Sugar Land Skeeters hosted the York Revolution. The ballpark cost US$37 million to build and is owned by the City of Sugar Land.
Logos and uniforms
The official colors of the Sugar Land Skeeters are imperial blue, nighttime black, rawhide yellow, white, and refinery red. Aside from nighttime black, each color is a regional allusion: "imperial blue" for the Sugar Land–based Imperial Sugar company, "rawhide yellow" for the cattle industry, and "refinery red" for the area's oil refineries. The team's primary logo consists of a mosquito flying over a Texas contour with its proboscis marking Fort Bend County which is located in the Southeast Texas area. The "Skeeters" wordmark centered below is made up of sugarcane-inspired lettering – a reference to the industry's importance to the region. Centered to the right above the contour is "Sugar Land" in black letters with a "lone star."
Television and radio
On April 24, 2014, the Sugar Land Skeeters announced a deal with ESPN that allowed for all home games at Constellation Field to be exclusively broadcast on the Internet channel ESPN3 for the 2014 season, an agreement that was renewed for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Away games are heard on radio station KBRZ.
The Sugar Land Skeeters utilize two mascots. Their primary mascot is Swatson: a large, green mosquito who performs stunts, engages in fan activities, and is often found throughout the stadium during games. There is also a secondary mascot, the Rally Sloth, who is used in the middle of the ninth inning whenever the Skeeters are trailing. The Rally Sloth was first used in 2019 and was the main mascot of the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths of the 2020 Constellation Energy League.
Sugar Land Skeeters roster
|Active (25-man) roster||Coaches/Other|
- Roger Clemens – former MLB player who signed with the team in 2012
- Rafael Palmeiro – former MLB player who signed with the team in 2015
- Tracy McGrady – former NBA player who became a professional pitcher for the Skeeters in 2014
- Scott Kazmir – MLB pitcher before and after his 2012 stint with the Skeeters
- Delwyn Young – former MLB player who signed with the team in 2014
- Jason Lane – former MLB outfielder who pitched for the Skeeters in 2012–2013 and returned to MLB as a pitcher
- Ryan Langerhans
- Scott Elarton
- Daryle Ward
- Derek Norris
- James Loney
- Hector Olivera
- Willy Taveras
|Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Team Records Held by Sugar Land Skeeters|
|Most Wins in a single season||95 wins||2013|
|Highest Winning Percentage in a single season||.679 winning percentage||2013|
|Highest Attendance Total in a single season||456,511 people||2012|
|Highest Attendance Average per game||6,650 people||2012|
|Highest Attendance in a single game||8,606 people||July 4, 2016|
|Individual Awards Earned by Sugar Land Skeeters Player|
|Atlantic League First Team (Outfield)||Adam Godwin||2013|
|Atlantic League First Team (First Base)||Aaron Bates||2013|
|Atlantic League First Team (Catcher)||Travis Scott||2013|
|Atlantic League Second Team (Catcher)||Koby Clemens||2013|
|Atlantic League Second Team (Closer)||Gary Majewski||2013|
|Atlantic League Manager of the Year||Gary Gaetti||2013|
|All Star Game MVP||Nick Stavinoha||2014|
|All Star Game MVP||Travis Scott||2015|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Catcher)||Chris Wallace||2015|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Second Base)||Delwyn Young||2015|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Third Base)||Patrick Palmeiro||2015|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Pitcher)||Roy Merritt||2015|
|Atlantic League Player of the Year||Jeremy Barfield||2016|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Outfield)||Jeremy Barfield||2016|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Relief Pitcher)||Andrew Johnston||2016|
|Atlantic League Championship Series MVP||Juan Martinez||2016|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Second Base)||Josh Prince||2017|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Third Base)||Bryan Pounds||2017|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Pitcher)||Jake Hale||2017|
|Atlantic League Championship Series MVP||James Russell||2018|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Outfield)||Anthony Giansanti||2018|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (First Base)||Matt Chavez||2018|
|Red, White, and Blue All Defensive Team (Catcher)||Derek Norris||2018|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Outfield)||Anthony Giansanti||2018|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (First Base)||Matt Chavez||2018|
|End-of-Season All Star Team (Relief Pitcher)||Felipe Paulino||2018|
|Atlantic League Manager of the Year||Pete Incaviglia||2018|
- "Three finalists named in Sugar Land name-the-team contest". Namesugarlandsteam.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- "Sugar Land seeks proposals for ballpark". Ballparkdigest.com. 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- "Today's big ballot issue: new ballpark in Sugar Land". Ballparkdigest.com. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- "Atlantic League to expand to Sugar Land". Ballparkdigest.com. 2010-05-17. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- Caldwell, Dave (October 11, 2012). "A Baseball Veteran Returns to the Mound: The Bullpen Car". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Berman, Mark. Roger Clemens to sign with the Sugar Land Skeeters, FOX-TV Houston, August 20, 2012.
- Baldwin, Chris. Roger Clemens takes advantage of meek minor leaguers: AARP Rocket not Majors ready, but oh the joy, HoustonCultureMap, August 26, 2012.
- "Skeeters Intend to Host Four-Team Pro Baseball League at Constellation Field". sugarlandskeeters.com. June 13, 2020.
- "Constellation Energy League to Be Delayed to July 10". sugarlandskeeters.com. June 29, 2020.
- "Constellation Energy League Announces Team Names and Logos". sugarlandskeeters.com. July 2, 2020.
- "Constellation Energy League to Be Delayed to July 10". www.sugarlandskeeters.com. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- "Schedule | Sugar Land Skeeters". www.sugarlandskeeters.com. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- "It's the 'Sugar Land Skeeters'". Ballparkbiz.wordpress.com. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- Barron, David (April 24, 2014). "Skeeters to stream home games via ESPN3.com, team website". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 28, 2014.