The Texas AirHogs, a longtime member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, have terminated their membership in the league effective immediately, according to a press release from the league.
The AirHogs, based in Grand Prairie, had been members of the American Association since 2008 and were league champions in 2011. With the exit of the AirHogs, the American Association currently sits at 11 active members, including the Cleburne Railroaders.
“Although we are disappointed by the departure of the AirHogs from the American Association, we are excited about the Railroaders’ 2021 season,” Cleburne Railroaders President and Co-Owner John Junker said. “Our league is stronger than ever and is focused on growth in the state of Texas. The Railroaders are looking forward to bringing our fans some great baseball and fun entertainment in 2021. #JumpontheTrain”
American Association Commisioner Joshua Schaub said with the loss of the AirHogs, the league will look at future expansion in Texas.
“We are disappointed in the loss of the Texas AirHogs, but we are determined to continue expansion in the state of Texas,” Schaub said. “We have a great operator in Cleburne with the Railroaders, and we anticipate announcing future expansion in Texas in 2021.”
During the Railroaders’ first three seasons, Cleburne had a natural rivalry with the AirHogs, initially known as the Grand Prairie AirHogs, thanks to their geographic proximity.
Neither Cleburne or Texas participated in the COVID-shortened 2020 regular season for the American Association, which had only six teams in action.
In the 2019 season, the AirHogs finished last in the South Division with a 28-72 record while the Railroaders finished tied for second at 57-43 but missed out on a playoff berth by virtue of a tiebreaker. Cleburne won the season series over Texas, 8-5, in 2019.
Across three seasons of Railroader vs. AirHog baseball action, Cleburne went 26-16 against Texas since the start of the 2017 campaign.