A great source of local entertainment is a Sacramento River Cats home game. Being at the ballpark is an enjoyable experience, even for those who aren’t die-hard baseball fans.
For those with only a passing familiarity with the team: The Sacramento River Cats is a minor league baseball team that’s in the Pacific Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League. The Pacific Coast League is one of two Triple-A leagues in the United States. The other league is The International League.
The combined 30 teams in these two leagues match up with the 30 major league teams as Triple-A affiliates.
The River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
- 1 History
- 2 Connection To The San Francisco Giants
- 3 The Raley Field Experience
- 4 Sacramento River Cats Schedule & Tickets
- 5 Media Coverage
- 6 Wrap Up
The team was founded in 1978 in British Columbia, Canada. The original team name was the Vancouver Canadians. After the 1999 season, the team was purchased by a group led by the late Art Savage. Mr. Savage had been president and CEO of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League from the team’s inception in 1990, through 1997.
The team was moved to West Sacramento and became the Sacramento River Cats beginning in the 2000 season. Since moving, the team has won four Pacific Coast League titles.
Connection To The San Francisco Giants
The connection between Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) is a two-way street.
A Path to The Major Leagues
Very few baseball players go straight to the Major Leagues. Drafted (and some un-drafted) players work their way up through the minor league levels and some eventually make it to the major leagues.
A player who is drafted out of high school or college by the San Francisco Giants is employed by the Giants no matter which level of minor league he is currently playing at. A player who makes it to the Major Leagues would play for the Giants unless he is first traded.
MLB Player Rehab
At any given point in time, there could be one or more Giants players on the River Cats’ roster with a status of “rehab.”
Per the the Major League Players Association Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF), with the player’s written consent, a player on the Major League Baseball 10-day or 60-day Disabled List (DL) can be assigned to a minor league club for up to a maximum of twenty days “for each injury, or reoccurrence of an injury, for the purpose of rehabilitation.” Pitchers can be assigned for up to a maximum of 30 days.
While always a temporary situation, one or more current MLB players appearing in the lineup adds extra excitement to a game.
Three time World Series championship team member and four time National League all-star Madison Bumgarner was the starting pitcher for the River Cats in May 2018. The game was a sellout.
Two time World Series championship team member Hunter Pence played for the River Cats during the same month.
The Raley Field Experience
Raley Field is just minutes from both Interstate 5 and from the Business 80 section of Highway 50.
You can use your favorite mobile mapping app to get to Raley Field.
If you use Google Maps, don’t be alarmed if you see “possibly closed” on gameday. This alert is referencing the business office, which is only open on weekdays until 5:00 PM.
The main parking lot has gravel sections, so it’s probably best to not drive a fancy sports car or a low rider to the ballpark unless you’re planning to park in the VIP section.
Non-VIP parking costs $10. Parking is free for a carpool of four or more people. For free carpool parking, that day’s Lasher’s Elk Grove Subaru parking permit must also be presented.
There are 10,624 fixed seats at Raley Field. The stadium has an official capacity of 14,014 when the lawn and standing room are included.
The capacity at Raley field is the fourth highest in all of U.S. Triple-A baseball. Only the Buffalo Bisons, the Indianapolis Indians and the Salt Lake Bees have more capacity.
Because of the persistent summer sun and heat in Sacramento, seating along the third base line is preferable to seating along the first base line during afternoon games. Fortunately, most games start at 7:05 PM.
The lawn, which includes Toyota Home Run Hill, has shade trees. Early birds can stake a claim to the shade.
The lawn area also features a mini Bogle vineyard. Bogle is the most widely recognized brand among Sacramento Area wineries. A vineyard within a ballpark may well be a features that’s unique to Raley Field.
For a private gathering of up to 120 people, there’s the Jackson Rancheria Home Run Terrace above left field.
Merchandise & Concessions
River Cats merchandise can be purchased at the On Deck Shop, just to the right of the main stadium entrance. The shop is open to the public even when games are not in session. For information, call 916-376-4796.
Six new restaurant storefronts were added to the concourse in 2017. They include an Irish-style pub called Coop & Kennel Pub and a ’50s-style restaurant called Cadillac Diner.
Craft beer can be purchased in the Beer Garden, next to the left field foul pole.
Old Sacramento is right across the river from Raley Field. It’s about ten minute walk from the Raley Field parking lots to Old Town Sacramento via the Tower Bridge.
There’s also a daytime Sacramento Historic River Cruise offered by Hornblower.
Sacramento River Cats Schedule & Tickets
In addition to being the primary online ticket source, TicketMaster has the best calendar view of the River Cats’ schedule.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Raley Field box office. Ticket prices vary by game, but they generally range from $10 to $55.
There are a number of club, season ticket and partial season ticket options. For more information on these, call 916.371.HITS (4487) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you can’t make it to the ballpark, there are plenty of ways to stay current with the River Cats.
The Sacramento River Cats and CBS13/CW31 partnered to broadcast nine Saturday home games during the 2018 regular season. The games will be available locally in the Sacramento market on CW31.
All 142 River Cats games are broadcast on Money 105.5.
The play-by-play announcer for the River Cats is Johnny Doskow, a resident of Folsom. His signature exclamation, “Holy Koudelka,” is well known by River Cats fans. Johnny’s Twitter handle is @JDoskow.
Happy birthday to the voice of the River Cats, lover of pastel polos and all-around broadcast legend Johnny Doskow 🎂
— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 31, 2018
As many sports teams are now doing, the River Cats tweet live updates during games. Twitter is also a good place to find out about specials. Here are the latest tweets from the River Cats.
To get another visual perspective on the ballpark and the team, check out the tag #sacramentorivercats on Instagram.
Additional photos are available on the Sacramento River Cats location page.
The River Cats’ Facebook page is another good source for the team’s schedule and related events.
For anyone lives in the Greater Sacramento area and beyond, consider taking yourself (and your family) out to the ballgame. The Sacramento River Cats organization has done it right—they have made for an enjoyable fan experience.
As a bonus, a visit to the ballpark can be preceded or followed by a visit to Old Sacramento.