Minor league ballparks are known for having a host of odd, interesting and perhaps tummy-turning foods. But the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies (the San Francisco Giants affiliate) are the only team in baseball that will have more than a dozen taco trucks inside their stadium this week.
On Thursday, the Grizzlies host their third annual Taco Truck Throwdown, a celebration of tacos and the trucks that serve them. The throwdown has already been celebrated in Minor League Baseball, twice earning "Promo of the Year" nominations in the MiLBY Awards and getting recognized by GameOps.com.
Taco Truck Throwdown is also dear to me, as I helped start it in 2011 and still help the Grizzlies organize it today.
It's an extension of my previous job — when I wrote for The Fresno Bee newspaper — that aims to honor the taco pushers who I view as the O.G.s of the current food truck craze. For me, Taco Truck Throwdown is a way to highlight our community here in Fresno, an ag-rich area with a huge Latino population that makes it one of the country's top food producers.
Taco trucks were driving down dusty roads feeding farm workers long before gourmet food trucks became a thing, and as a proud Central California resident, I'd put ours up against the best anywhere. These are true family-run small businesses where it's often the dad, mom and children serving up their heritage on a plate — the tacos literally vary depending on what part of Mexico the family is from.
What's that have to do with baseball? Well, the Grizzlies were smart enough to tap into the taco truck community in Central California. Since then, the event has been a big success that runs concurrently with a baseball game.
The first year we had seven trucks and sold 7,977 tacos. Last year, we had 13 trucks and sold 14,450 tacos. The game — one of the highest attended last season for the Grizzlies — even had a better draw than a White Sox-Orioles game the same night.
I'm biased, obviously, but I'd say not only is Taco Truck Throwdown one of the tastiest events you'll find in a baseball stadium all year long, but it's also one of the best events in Minor League Baseball that truly reflect its community.
One more cool thing: Manny Ramirez will be playing in Fresno on Thursday night for the Round Rock Express. It's my mission to get him to eat a taco or 12. I'll let you know how it goes.