|Round Rock Express|
Founded in 2000
Round Rock, Texas
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Pacific Coast League (2005-present)|
|Texas League (2000-2004)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Houston Astros (2019-present)|
|Minor league titles|
|Nickname||Round Rock Express (2000-present)|
|Colors||Navy blue, red, silver, white|
|Ballpark||Dell Diamond (2000-present)|
|Ryan Sanders Baseball|
|General Manager||Chris Almendarez|
The Round Rock Express are a Minor League Baseball team of Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros major league club. They are located in Round Rock, Texas, and play their home games at the Dell Diamond. The team is named for Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who was nicknamed "The Ryan Express." Ryan, along with son Reid Ryan and Don Sanders make up the team's ownership group, Ryan Sanders Baseball.
The Express was established as a Double-A team of the Texas League in 2000. The team won the Texas League championship in 2000. The team was replaced by a Triple-A PCL team in 2005. The Triple-A Express carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it.
The ownership group led by Nolan Ryan and Don Sanders began its operations in Round Rock in 2000 as the Dell Diamond opened, moving the Double-A Texas League's Jackson Generals to the new park, affiliating with the Houston Astros and setting attendance records for the Double-A level. By 2003, Corpus Christi had offered the Ryan-Sanders group $20 million to build a stadium and move a professional franchise there, and the ownership group was convinced Round Rock could support Triple-A baseball.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Coast League's Edmonton Trappers franchise, left isolated by the departure of the Calgary Cannons after the 2002 season for Albuquerque, was under pressure from the rest of the league to relocate to the United States. After the 2003 season, the Ryan group purchased the Trappers franchise with plans to relocate that franchise to Round Rock for 2005, once the Corpus Christi stadium would be ready for the Double-A franchise. The Triple-A club would carry on the Round Rock Express identity; the Double-A club would become the Corpus Christi Hooks, and the Ryan group was able to negotiate an affiliation swap with the New Orleans Zephyrs to obtain the Astros' Triple-A affiliation for the newly-arriving PCL club.
In 2006, the Round Rock Express clinched the Southern Division of the league's American Conference with a win-loss record of 85-59. After defeating the Nashville Sounds in five games to take the American Conference championship, they advanced to the PCL championship series, but lost to the Tucson Sidewinders in three straight games.
In 2011, after 6 seasons of serving as the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and 11 seasons of being affiliated with the Astros overall, the Express became the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Through the end of the 2018 season, attendance figures have dropped 8% since changing affiliations from Houston to Texas (see table below). Each of the top 9 season attendances all occurred in the 11 seasons the team was affiliated with Houston.
On September 20, 2018, the Express announced a 4-year Player Development Contract with the Houston Astros.
|2000||9,430||70||660,110||Houston Astros (Double-A)|
|2001||9,554||70||668,792||Houston Astros (Double-A)|
|2002||9,573||70||670,176||Houston Astros (Double-A)|
|2003||9,799||70||685,973||Houston Astros (Double-A)|
|2004||9,847||70||689,286||Houston Astros (Double-A)|
|2005||9,726||72||700,277||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2006||9,413||72||677,706||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2007||9,466||70||662,595||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2008||9,286||72||668,623||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2009||8,707||72||626,899||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2010||8,408||71||596,985||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
|2011||8,587||72||618,261||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2012||8,389||71||595,584||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2013||8,181||72||589,042||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2014||8,390||71||595,700||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2015||8,623||69||595,012||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2016||8,627||71||613,226||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2017||8,724||70||610,681||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2018||8,809||70||616,636||Texas Rangers (Triple-A)|
|2019||8,542||70||597,928||Houston Astros (Triple-A)|
The "Play Ball" episode of The Simple Life, a reality television series starring young wealthy socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, took place during an Express game. The show aired on July 21, 2004, as the fifteenth episode of the show's second season.
The team made headlines in 2010 when it "signed" Billy Ray "Rojo" Johnson, described in a press release as an East Texan who grew up in Venezuela and had run-ins with the law. In reality, Johnson was actor Will Ferrell, who briefly took the mound at Dell Diamond to promote his nearby charity golf tournament.