Founded in 1977
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (3)||
|Division titles (4)||
|Nickname||Tulsa Drillers (1977–Present)
Lafayette Drillers (1975–1977)
|Ballpark||ONEOK Field (2010–present)|
|Drillers Stadium (1981–2009)
Oiler Park (1977–1980)
|General manager||Mike Melega|
The Drillers play at ONEOK Field (pronounced "one-oak"), in downtown Tulsa's Greenwood district. The team previously played at Drillers Stadium on the Tulsa County Fairgrounds at 15th and Yale in midtown Tulsa. The Drillers held their first home opener at ONEOK Field on April 8, 2010, losing 7–0 to the Corpus Christi Hooks in front of an over-capacity crowd of 8,665. In their first season in the new ballpark, the Drillers drew total attendance of 408,183, the highest season figure in the history of Tulsa professional baseball.
The Drillers came into being in 1977, when the two-year-old Lafayette Drillers were moved to Tulsa. Before that time, the Triple-A Tulsa Oilers had been the city's minor league club, but owner A. Ray Smith moved that team to New Orleans due to concerns over the dilapidated condition of Oiler Park. The new team opted to keep the Drillers name carried over from Lafayette—appropriate given the importance of oil to the Tulsa economy.
The Drillers set up shop at Oiler Park, which was renamed Driller Park. However, it was obvious that the old stadium was at the end of its useful life, and plans were already underway for a replacement. Tulsa County completed 8,000 seat Robert B. Sutton Stadium in 1981, naming it for its chief benefactor, a local oil executive. Sutton, however, was convicted in 1982 of fraud, and as a result the County renamed the park Tulsa County Stadium, and renamed it Drillers Stadium in 1989.
From 1976 to 2002, the Drillers were the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. In 2002, Rangers owner Tom Hicks purchased the Shreveport, Louisiana Texas League franchise with the intention of moving the team to Frisco, Texas, a suburban city north of Dallas, Texas. At the time, the Shreveport Swamp Dragons were affiliated with the San Francisco Giants; Hicks cast aside this association and bought out the remaining two years of Tulsa's Player Development Contract. The Drillers then signed a two-year agreement with the Colorado Rockies. After the 2014 season they signed an affiliation agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Batting coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed in a freak accident on July 22, 2007. While standing in the first base coach box, he was hit in the head by a line drive. Although CPR was administered at the scene, he died less than an hour later. The Drillers and Travelers suspended their game, which the Travelers had been leading, 7–3, in the ninth inning. The Drillers also postponed their game the following night. The coroner concluded that Coolbaugh was actually hit in the neck with the line drive instead of the head, which ruptured an artery in his neck, killing him.
The Drillers have been Texas League champions three times: in 1982, 1988, and 1998. As well as Eastern Division Champions in 1999, and 2002. The Drillers also appeared in the Texas League playoffs during the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons.
Tulsa businessman Bill Rollings acquired the Lafayette franchise and moved it to Tulsa in 1977. Country music entertainer Roy Clark was a co-owner of the team for six years. Went Hubbard bought the team in 1986. In March 2006, Chuck Lamson (a former Drillers pitcher and executive) bought out much of Hubbard's stock in the team; Lamson became president and majority owner of the team. In December 2010, Lamson sold his stock back to Hubbard. This transaction made Hubbard the sole owner of the team; his sons, Dale and Jeff, became co-chairmen. Went and Dale Hubbard are residents of Walpole, New Hampshire; Jeff Hubbard, a former player (in 1987) and coach (in 1991) for the Drillers, lives in Durham, North Carolina. Went Hubbard died in September 2012.
For 13 years the Tulsa Drillers' radio (and sometime television) announcer was Mark Neely, but in January 2009 it was announced that Neely had been hired to be the new TV play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres. In February the Drillers announced that Neely's replacement would be Dennis Higgins, former announcer for the Wichita Wranglers. Since the 2005 season, the Drillers have been broadcast on KTBZ (AM), Sports Radio 1430, "The Buzz" in Tulsa.
Notable former players
Tulsa Drillers roster
7-day disabled list
- Barry Lewis, "Downtown debut: Drillers lose first game at new ONEOK Field: Sellout crowd of 8,665 more than 800 over capacity watch ONEOK Field opener", Tulsa World, April 9, 2010.
- Lynn Jacobsen, "Drillers exceeded expectations in 2010", Tulsa World, September 8, 2010.
- http://sports.aol.com/mlb/story/_a/tragedy-strikes-on-baseball-field/20070723020009990001 AP Sports, retrieved 02007-07-23[dead link]
- Tulsa Drillers[dead link]
- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/baseball/mlb/wires/07/25/2010.ap.bbm.coach.killed.coroner.0215/[dead link]
- "Tulsa Baseball Timeline" at Tulsa World.
- Barry Lewis, "Moniker has lasting print on franchise", Tulsa World, April 19, 2007.
- Wayne McCombs, Baseball in Tulsa (Arcadia Publishing, 2003), ISBN 978-0-7385-2332-3, p.76. Excerpt available at Google Books.
- Barry Lewis, "Lamson's long history with the Drillers", Tulsa World, December 23, 2010.
- Barry Lewis, "Lamson sells his interest in Drillers", Tulsa World, December 23, 2010.
- "In memoriam: Went Hubbard", Ballpark Digest, September 9, 2012.
- Goodridge, Gerald. "John Anderson Named Teegins Award Winner". newson6.com. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Bill Haisten, "Neely leaving Drillers for Padres, Tulsa World, January 23, 2009.
- "Higgins gets Driller radio job," Tulsa World, February 6, 2009.
- "Drillers Games To Air On AM 1430 In 2009", Tulsa Drillers press release, December 5, 2008 (retrieved January 24, 2009).
- Tulsa Drillers official website
- ONEOK Field official website
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Bill Rollings. First person interview conducted on May 7, 2012 with Bill Rollings, the man who saved Tulsa baseball. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.