Summer is always a great time to visit the Lone Star State. For baseball fans, it is even more so. Not only does Texas boast a pair of major league baseball teams -- the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers -- there are more than a dozen minor league baseball teams that call Texas home. In fact, there is even the "Texas League," a AA minor league system which has four Texas ball clubs and four from neighboring states.
From Triple-A affiliates to independent ball clubs, there are minor league teams playing every level of baseball in Texas.
The top level of minor league baseball is Triple-A. In Texas, there are three teams playing at that level -- the El Paso Chihuahuas, Round Rock Express and Sugarland Skeeters. As baseball fans are aware, there are usually quirks associated with minor league ball. In one such incident, the Chihuahuas and Express play in the Pacific Coast League, while the Skeeters play in the Atlantic League. All three of these teams play in some of the nation's top minor league ballparks, making attending a game an even more enjoyable experience.
At the next level of minor league baseball -- Double-A -- Texas is even better represented. To begin with, there is the aforementioned Texas League. This league features four home-state teams -- the Corpus Christi Hooks, Frisco Roughriders, Midland Rockhounds and San Antonio Missions facing off against four out-of-state teams -- the Arkansas Travelers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Springfield (MO) Cardinals, and the Tulsa (OK) Drillers.
As most Texas visitors will note, two of these teams play in two of Texas' most popular tourist towns -- San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Catching an evening ballgame is a great way to cap a vacation to either of those cities. Texas also has a trio of teams -- the Amarillo Sox, Grand Prairie AirHogs and Laredo Lemurs -- in the independent AA American Association.
Oddly enough, Texas doesn't have a single team playing single-A minor league baseball. However, it does have a few more independent league teams. The Alpine Cowboys play in the infamous Pecos League, which was chronicled in a documentary series on FoxSports1. The Cowboys also happen to play in one of Texas' most stories stadiums, the very unique Kokernot Field. So, anyone finding themselves way out in West Texas while on vacation in Texas, would do well to take in a game while in Alpine.
Then you have the United League, an independent minor league baseball league made up entirely by teams from Texas. The four team league features the Brownsville Charros, Ft Worth Cats, RGV Whitewings and San Angelo Colts. While the United League is technically the lowest level of minor league baseball played in Texas, several former United League players have worked their way up the minor league ladder and a handful haven't even gotten onto MLB rosters. And, as an aside, the United League also has the Texas Winter League, which features round robin competition between teams comprised of up-and-coming players. All games during the Texas Winter League are played at Harlingen Field in the Rio Grande Valley, making the TWL very popular among the many 'Winter Texans' who spend the season in the RGV.
The 15 minor league baseball teams that call Texas home are scattered throughout the state, in big cities and small towns. So, no matter where you find yourself vacationing in the Lone Star State, odds are you are close to a minor league team. And watching a minor league game is not only a good way to cap a Texas vacation, it is a great way to glimpse future baseball stars before they hit it big.