Which of the 10 Sacramento River Cats Facts/Sutter Health Park Facts Will Impress You the Most? The 10 Facts on Sacramento River Cats are…
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10 Sacramento River Cats Facts You Didn’t Know
The Sacramento River Cats are one of Triple-A Baseball’s exciting teams every sports fan needs to learn about. In fact, the River Cats are a Minor League farm club for the San Francisco Giants. Any Sacramento fan that bleeds River Cats red and black will know every information possible, from the team winning its recent National Championship in 2019 to Dinger the Cat being the official mascot. However, there are new Sacramento River Cats facts that many baseball supporters never knew or never heard of in their lives. For details on what facts baseball fans rarely knew about, please refer to Top 10 Sacramento River Cats Facts You Didn’t Know below!
10: The River Cats were Sued After a Metal Sign Fell on a Fan in 2015
Injuries and accidents can happen to anyone without warning at any time, especially at a baseball game. Those injuries range from stubbing a toe on a hard door to making a large spill near the seating aisles. However, injuries resulting from those accidents can sometimes lead those situations to the courthouse. Unfortunately, that happened at the formerly-named Raley Field as the regular season was coming to a close. In September 2015, a fan named Alan Whitten decided to pursue legal action against the River Cats for an injury he sustained while attending a game.
It all started when Whitten was watching a Minor League contest with his family and friends. In fact, there was a feature that was situated above the group called the Strikeout Board. For every Sacramento strikeout, a worker would place a metallic “K” sign on the board. Unfortunately, one of those metal signs fell 15-20 feet onto Whitten and struck his neck. In order to seek damages for medical costs, the fan sued the River Cats for improperly protecting fans when the Strikeout Board was used. However, team officials refused to take responsibility because they believed Whitten assumed the risk of injury when coming to the stadium that day. As of today, the case has yet to be resolved!
9: Sacramento is the 3rd Team Since 2006 to Win Back-to-Back National Titles
The Sacramento River Cats are one of the country’s most successful teams in the Minor Leagues. They have played in the National Championship Game three times since its debut in 2006. In addition, Sacramento has won five Pacific Coast League titles since its inception in 2000. But in rare situations, winning a major championship in consecutive years can be a challenging and rewarding achievement. Believe it or not, the River Cats are the 3rd team since 2006 to win back-to-back national titles. In 2007, Sacramento made its first ever appearance in the Triple-A National Championship Game.
Unlike the World Series in the big leagues, the championship event was just a single game and not a series. Anyway, the River Cats defeated the Richmond Braves (now Gwinnett Stripers) in the 2007 edition 7-1. One year later, Sacramento repeated as champions when they managed to beat the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (now the RailRiders) 4-1. In 2019, the West Coast club won its recent title by defeating the Columbus Clippers 4-0. The River Cats are one of the three teams to win back-to-back national championships since 2006, along with the Clippers and Omaha Storm Chasers.
8: The Sacramento Baseball Stadium Hosted an Outdoor Hockey Game in 2015
Baseball stadiums have a reputation for hosting major events other than baseball. For instance, rock bands and country stars would take the stage at ballparks either following the games or during the off-season. In addition, baseball venues would serve as the annual home for college bowl games that take place every December. Perhaps the most popular use for ballparks is to have an outdoor hockey game being played on the field. Luckily, for the River Cats, their baseball stadium got to host the American Hockey League’s (AHL) version of the Winter Classic in 2015.
In December 2015, the Stockton Heat were taking on the Bakersfield Condors at the then-Raley Field. Unlike the NHL’s Winter Classic, the outdoor rink was installed sideways between home plate and second base. The experience was one of the rare moments where an AHL contest got to be played outside at the ballpark. Anyway, Stockton went on to defeat Bakersfield in the in-state rivalry 3-2. For those who don’t follow Minor League Hockey, the AHL is the highest level farm system in the NHL followed by the ECHL League.
7: The River Cats Went on a One-Month Road Trip Due to the Stadium’s Construction
When the Sacramento River Cats were getting ready to make their debut in the late 1990s, they had a busy schedule. First, they had to come up with a team name along with the main logo. Next, the Rivers Cats had to design their home and road uniforms that focused on jerseys and baseball caps. But the most important part about creating a team was to have a ballpark in place before the 2000 season started. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as the grand opening for the formerly-named Raley Field was delayed by a month.
During the 1999-2000 off-season, Sacramento was dealing with rainy weather that affected the construction timeline. With the opening deadline in April not being met on time, the River Cats had no choice but to embark on a month-long road trip to begin the 2000 campaign. While the now-Sutter Health Park was wrapping up construction, Sacramento went on a 36-game road trip that lasted from April to May.
Finally, the River Cats ballpark opened its doors to the public after dealing with construction delays resulting from poor winter weather. Sacramento was not the only club to deal with a long road trip due to venue construction, as the New York Islanders played its first ever home game at UBS Arena in November 2021 (one month later than expected).
6: Sutter Health Park Has Hosted Three No-Hitters Since its Opening in 2000
The Sacramento River Cats know a thing or two when it comes to throwing no-hitters. In fact, the team has accomplished nine no-no’s in its history. The River Cats are one of the couple teams to have thrown multiple no-hitters since the early 2000s: Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, and Nashville. In fact, Sutter Health Park is one of the active Triple-A cities to host multiple no-no’s along with Tacoma and Oklahoma City. To clarify, the Sacramento stadium has hosted three no-hitters since it opened in 2000.
In June 2006, the Portland Beavers (now El Paso Chihuahuas) threw a combined no-no against the River Cats at the then-Raley Field. However, that game was cut short in the 7th inning due to inclement weather. Three years later, Salt Lake Bees pitcher Sean O’Sullivan tossed a no-hitter vs. Sacramento in California. Recently, the River Cats threw a combined no-hitter against the Bees in 2021. Interestingly, Sacramento has taken part in the right and wrong ends of a combined no-no.
5: Before Sacramento, the River Cats were the Original Vancouver Canadians
The River Cats are one of the couple of professional sports teams based in Sacramento. The other notable local club that plays in the Northern California city is the Sacramento Kings of the NBA. Previously, the Sacramento Monarchs played in the WNBA from 1997 until 2009 and won the league’s championship in 2005. Anyway, the River Cats are pretty much the only sports destination for the city during the summer months. But did you know that the Sacramento River Cats were the original Vancouver Canadians?
The Canadians first began play in the late 1970s during a time where Canada was growing its presence in baseball. The Vancouver club was one of the couple teams to play in the North of the Border: Blue Jays, Expos, Calgary Cannons (now Albuquerque Isotopes), and Edmonton Trappers (now Round Rock Express). However, the Canadians were bought out by the late Art Savage with plans to move them to Sacramento. Perhaps the most remembered part about the relocation was that the team won the Triple-A World Series in its final year in Vancouver. Following the relocation, the British Columbia city received the current incarnation of the Vancouver Canadians in 2000 as a Class-A (now High-A) farm club.
4: The Sacramento Baseball Club has Only One Player in the Hall of Fame
Reaching the big leagues is every Minor League player’s goal when he starts his professional career. If that player has a successful turnout in the lower affiliate levels (High-A or Rookie), then he would be promoted to higher farm levels like Double-A or Triple-A. If the athlete has a great performance at the high Minor League levels, then he would either receive an invite to Spring Training or earn a call-up to the Majors. Most importantly, a successful run in the big leagues could land that player in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. But believe it or not, the River Cats only have one player inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Back in 2007, Catcher Mike Piazza was spending his final season with the Oakland Athletics. The catcher was most notable for his playing days with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. During the course of the season, he had to go on a rehab stint to return to action from an injury. Speaking of rehab, Piazza played three games for Oakland’s Triple-A team: the River Cats. In a Sacramento uniform, the catcher batted 0.412 with seven hits and one run batted in. In 2016, Piazza became the new member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York.
3: Since 2000, the River Cats had Four MVPs in the Pacific Coast League
Winning a high-profile award is considered a big deal in Triple-A Baseball, especially for those who are attempting to reach the big leagues. If an athlete wins Rookie of the Year or Pitcher of the Year, then this situation might increase his chances of getting called up to the Majors. Also, that player might face the possibility of receiving an invite to Spring Training from his team’s parent club. Fortunately, for the River Cats, they have made Sacramento proud by winning four Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards since Sutter Health Park’s opening in 2000. As a matter of fact, the team has won top player awards along with national titles.
The awards stretch began in the early 2000s when the Sacramento River Cats were just getting warmed up in the Minor Leagues. In the inaugural season, 2B Jose Ortiz became the first River Cats player to win Pacific Coast League MVP with a 0.351 batting average with 24 home runs and 108 runs batted in. Three years later, 1B Graham Koonce claimed MVP honors while batting 0.277 with 34 long balls and 115 RBIs.
In 2004, INF Dan Johnson won the league’s MVP award with a 0.299 batting average with 29 home runs and 111 runs batted in. By the way, Johnson was best remembered for hitting the game-tying home run for the Rays in Game 162 in 2011. In 2006, 3B Scott McClain earned MVP rights by batting 0.252 with 28 long balls and 107 RBIs.
2: San Francisco Giants Were Not the Parent Club When Sacramento First Began
The Sacramento River Cats have one of Triple-A Baseball’s close range farm club partnerships. Since the mid-2010s, the River Cats have served as the high-level affiliate for the San Francisco Giants. Since that collaboration began, the Giants have made the playoffs twice: 2016 and 2021. Sacramento is about a 2.0-hour drive from San Francisco, so players wouldn’t have to travel far when being called up to the Majors. But interestingly, the Giants were not Sacramento’s original collaborators when the River Cats started playing in 2000.
In the early 2000s, the Sacramento River Cats were the Triple-A team for the Oakland Athletics. The plan appeared to be the right fit because both of those markets were situated in Northern California. Also, Oakland was about a 1.5-hour driving time from Sacramento. However, the River Cats’ deal with the Athletics ended in 2015 as the San Francisco Giants became the Sacramento club’s new partner. Eventually, Oakland found a new Triple-A collaborator in the Las Vegas Aviators (formerly the Las Vegas 51’s).
1: Then-Raley Field Served as the Site for the 2005 Triple-A All-Star Game
Over the past 20-plus years, Sutter Health Park has witnessed some pretty exciting baseball events. For example, the Sacramento River Cats won three Triple-A Championships in the following years: 2007, 2008, and 2019. In addition, the then-Raley Field served as the home for the 2015 AHL Winter Classic between Stockton and Bakersfield. Since the park’s opening, the venue has been able to host three no-hitters. But in 2005, the River Cats stadium was the official site for the Triple-A All-Star Game.
For the first and only time in its history, the formerly-named Raley Field got to host the Minor League’s Midsummer Classic. The event’s official logo incorporated the yellow Tower Bridge along with the River Cats image. Some of the most high-profile players who took part in the All–Star Game were INF Ryan Howard (Scranton), 3B Edwin Encarnacion (Louisville), and OF B.J. Upton (Durham). Team Pacific Coast went on to beat Team International by the final score of 11-5. Meanwhile, Catcher Gerald Laird (Oklahoma City) earned All-Star Game MVP honors because he hit a grand slam.